Assessing the cost of global biodiversity and conservation knowledge
Juffe-Bignoli, D and Brooks, TM and Butchart, SHM and Jenkins, RB and Boe, K and Hoffmann, M and Angulo, A and Bachman, S and Bohm, M and Brummitt, N and Carpenter, KE and Comer, PJ and Cox, N and Cuttelod, A and Darwall, WRT and Di Marco, M and Fishpool, LDC and Goettsch, B and Heath, M and Hilton-Taylor, C and Hutton, J and Johnson, T and Joolia, A and Keith, DA and Langhammer, PF and Luedtke, J and Lughadha, EN and Lutz, M and May, I and Miller, RM and Oliveira-Miranda, MA and Parr, M and Pollock, CM and Ralph, G and Rodriguez, JP and Rondinini, C and Smart, J and Stuart, S and Symes, A and Tordoff, AW and Woodley, S and Young, B and Kingston, N, Assessing the cost of global biodiversity and conservation knowledge, PLoS ONE, 11, (8) Article e0160640. ISSN 1932-6203 (2016) [Refereed Article]
Knowledge products comprise assessments of authoritative information supported by standards, governance, quality control, data, tools, and capacity building mechanisms. Considerable resources are dedicated to developing and maintaining knowledge products for biodiversity conservation, and they are widely used to inform policy and advise decision makers and practitioners. However, the financial cost of delivering this information is largely undocumented. We evaluated the costs and funding sources for developing and maintaining four global biodiversity and conservation knowledge products: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems, Protected Planet, and the World Database of Key Biodiversity Areas. These are secondary data sets, built on primary data collected by extensive networks of expert contributors worldwide. We estimate that US$160 million (range: US$116–204 million), plus 293 person-years of volunteer time (range: 278–308 person-years) valued at US$ 14 million (range US$12–16 million), were invested in these four knowledge products between 1979 and 2013. More than half of this financing was provided through philanthropy, and nearly three-quarters was spent on personnel costs. The estimated annual cost of maintaining data and platforms for three of these knowledge products (excluding the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems for which annual costs were not possible to estimate for 2013) is US$6.5 million in total (range: US$6.2–6.7 million). We estimated that an additional US$114 million will be needed to reach pre-defined baselines of data coverage for all the four knowledge products, and that once achieved, annual maintenance costs will be approximately US$12 million. These costs are much lower than those to maintain many other, similarly important, global knowledge products. Ensuring that biodiversity and conservation knowledge products are sufficiently up to date, comprehensive and accurate is fundamental to inform decision-making for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Thus, the development and implementation of plans for sustainable long-term financing for them is critical.