Biodiversity Monitoring in Aquatic Ecosystems to Support a Whole Society Approach to Transformative Change

On October 12th, 2023, a joint session on “Biodiversity Monitoring in Aquatic Ecosystems to Support a Whole Society Approach to Transformative Change”, organised by the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) and the Fresh Water Biodiversity Observation Network (FWBON), took place during the GEO BON Global Conference in Montreal.

This session explored how biodiversity monitoring capabilities and approaches in marine and inland waters can be aligned with terrestrial approaches to track biodiversity change. There is an urgency to synergise aquatic approaches to biodiversity monitoring and data collection and to better connect the community globally and across freshwater and marine domains. Key challenges still encompass limited awareness and understanding, restricted access to advanced technologies, capacity-building gaps, and financial constraints.

Measuring the extent of inland, coastal, and marine biodiversity to characterise habitats and biodiversity is a management priority for nations around the world. Nations are faced with addressing the goals and targets of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, and this requires baselines and measuring progress against them. Still, nationally and regionally accepted protocols for freshwater biodiversity monitoring and ecological status assessment are rare. Yet the structure provided by the GEO BON to link different national and thematic BONs helps to address requirements for biodiversity information in the land-ocean-atmosphere continuum to address multiple societal needs. There is a recognition that habitats such as drainage ditches, estuaries of all sizes, and wetlands play important roles in delivering ecosystem services and need to be integrated into these observing frameworks. Many of these areas are important for food, human health, and developing and managing Blue Carbon.

The GEO BON Global Conference was organised by the GEO BON and its partners and took place in Montreal, Canada, between 10 and 13 October. The conference focused on “Monitoring Biodiversity for Action”, mainly on the development of best practices and new technologies for biodiversity observations and monitoring to support transformative policy and conservation action. It was an opportunity for diverse audiences to get together to discuss and share knowledge on biodiversity changes and conservation, the associated contributions to all sectors of society and sustainability.

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