Launch of UN Biodiversity Lab 2.0: Spatial data and the future of our planet

Planet Earth with detailed relief and atmosphere. Day and Night. Europe, North Africa and Middle East. 3D rendering. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

The UN Biodiversity Lab (UNBL) 2.0 was launched on the 4th of October at Day 1 of the Nature for Life Hub. The UNBL 2.0 is a free, open-source platform that enables governments and others to access state-of-the-art maps and data on nature, climate change, and human development in new ways to generate insight for nature and sustainable development. It is freely available online to governments and other stakeholders as a digital public good.

Developed jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), and the Secretariat of the UN Biodiversity Convention, the launch highlighted strong partnerships, and included an announcement from Microsoft of its commitment to support the digital ecosystem of UNBL with their Planetary Computer and custom analytics as digital public goods. 

“The UN Biodiversity Lab will enable anyone to access state-of-the-art spatial data and dynamic indicators that will generate brand-new insights into conservation and sustainable development,” says UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. “And crucially, the lab will provide decision-makers with access to over 400 spatial data layers across biodiversity, climate change, and development – helping them to identify new opportunities to act in the best interest of both people and planet.”

The UNBL 2.0 release responds to a known global gap in the types of spatial data and tools, providing an invaluable resource to nations around the world to take transformative action. Users can now access over 400 of the world’s best available global spatial data layers; create secure workspaces to incorporate national data alongside global data; use curated data collections to generate insight for action; and more. Without specialized tools or training, decision-makers can leverage the power of spatial data to support priority-setting and the implementation of nature-based solutions. Dynamic metrics and indicators on the state of our planet are also available.

 “The UN Biodiversity Lab brings together a strong coalition of partners, data providers, and technological innovators to support the creation of a digital ecosystem for the planet. As an advocate for the environment, UNEP has a key role to play in providing information on the state of nature and to deepen the science-policy linkages. We are firmly committed to this partnership so that policymakers can effectively use open data in spatial planning to deliver on the Paris Agreement and the post-2020 global biodiversity framework,” stated Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

 “UNBL has the potential to provide critical resources to support Parties in national reporting of biodiversity indicators under the emerging post-2020 global biodiversity framework and also for the revision, implementation and monitoring of national biodiversity plans,” stated Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Biodiversity Convention.

UNBL was first launched in 2018 to support governments in their commitments to the UN Biodiversity Convention, leading to a two-fold increase in the number of maps used in countries’ national reports on the state of biodiversity. UNBL 2.0 is now available in English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The redesign offers modern web app design and enhanced functionalities based on user feedback, including more data, enhanced analytic capabilities, and analyses that support action at the national level.

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