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The total economic value of an open access database of the living world

Every €1 spent on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility could result in benefits ranging from €3 to €12

GBIF—the Global Biodiversity Information Facility—is an international network and data infrastructure funded by the world's governments and aimed at providing anyone, anywhere, open access to data about all types of life on Earth. The GBIF Secretariat commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to undertake a total economic valuation of this mission.

Responding to accelerating climate change and biodiversity loss requires big decisions. Never has it been more important for these decisions to be supported by readily-accessibly, comprehensive and high-quality data.

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) provides open access to the world’s largest collection species occurrence data, empowering scientific discovery, conservation and policy-making, and across diverse fields. This collection, growing at an exponential 24% per annum, contains over 2.2 billion species occurrence records and 75,000 datasets.

By collating and combining data across the biodiversity value chain, GBIF amplifies the impact of thousands of data publishers, users and partners across national boundaries. Moreover, the economic benefits are significant.

For every €1 invested in GBIF, users gain €3 in benefits, with society reaping up to €12. This value is generated through the perceived value of open access data, time savings, and the impact of supported research, such as enhanced biodiversity conservation efforts, and contributions to Sustainable Development Goals.

Key Findings:

  • We estimate that, each year, €15 million is spent across the GBIF network to support its network, infrastructure, and services.
  • These investments into the GBIF network expand the scope of what is possible. Almost half of GBIF users would have found it impossible to achieve the same outcome in the absence of GBIF.
    • Users value open access to biodiversity data at €13 million per year.
    • GBIF saves users an estimated 845,000 hours of research time annually, valued at €35 million, by providing efficient and open access to required data.
  • GBIF's impact extends to the broader global economy, with potential benefits of up to €185 million per year through supported research and the associated economic and social benefits. In fact, over 90% of survey respondents said that their use of GBIF-mediated data contributed to Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Volunteers contribute their time for various value adding activities, such as translation or mentoring, and is valued at approximately €958,000 per annum. Note that this value only captures a limited set of roles for which there is sufficient data.
  • GBIF removes barriers for both users and data providers, ensuring open access to data for all and the provision of digital infrastructure and centralised services to uplift global collection and sharing of data.

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