Project title

To be confirmed: Unlocking biodiversity information for ecosystem assessments in the southern Africa region

Implementing Institutions

South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Other partners in neighbouring countries


Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe


Noting the capacity needs relating to data mobilisation and ecosystem assessments in the southern Africa region, this Project Development Phase aims to draw from South Africa's long-term experience in conducting ecosystem assessments to design a project that could transfer tools, technology and expertise to South Africa's neighbouring countries in this critical field.  Allowing this Project Development Phase will ensure alignment with the various IPBES initiatives, and ensure that the project is impactful and cost-effective.

Project Description

South Africa has quite an advance set of expertise and systems in place to undertake ecosystem assessments relevant to policy and decision-making.  Through several multi-national projects run by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), we have identified that several of our neighbouring countries need support in conducting their own ecosystem assessments.  The current paucity of ecosystem assessments in the southern Africa region is as a result of a lack of human, financial and technological capacity. Neighbouring countries require support ranging from identifying the minimum requirements of data for ecosystem assessments, and data mobilisation (including the repatriation of data, citizen science projects to capture data, digitization of existing records, etc.), through to applying such information to conduct ecosystem assessments.  Prioritising key policy-relevant questions is a prerequisite for ecosystem assessment, and must be considered as part of the envisaged capacity building. 

This project, when fully-developed, will attempt to address some of the capacity needs in the southern African region; and will link with the IPBES Africa Regional Assessment as it progresses.  The full project proposal will need to identify strategic capacity building activities; potentially linking with IPBES initiatives. 

Project Objectives and expected Achievables

Objective of Project Development Phase:

1. To identify relevant stakeholders, both internally in South Africa and internationally.

2. To corroborate the needs of these stakeholders; and to investigate the availability of South African experts to assist on the project.

3. Design a project to address these needs, including a full scoping of various data requirements for conducting an ecosystem assessment and ensuring that linkages to IPBES initiatives are clear.

Activities of the Project Development Phase might include surveys, face-to-face meetings, telephonic consultations.

Deliverable of Project Development Phase:  Full project proposal.

Timeline of Project Development Phase: 6 months.

Full project proposal to be developed during this design phase, which will include fully-elaborated deliverables and activities, as well as timeframes and indicators.

Potential activities for the full project might include:

- the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity Informatics

- several studentships with a focus on mobilising data for ecosystem assessments

- Secondments, internships and other short-term training opportunities for ecosystem assessment practitioners

- Workshops

- Creation of toolkits and learning modules


< 1 year

Geographic Scale


Seeking Resources for:

Project development

Type of Resources/Support needed:

Financial, Technical

Project relevance: 
Projects aligned with IPBES' work on capacity-building seeking support