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bioDISCOVERY moves to the University of Zurich

This news story was adapted from a press released produced by the University of Zurich. See the original version here.

The International Project Office (IPO) of bioDISCOVERY, a global research project of Future Earth, will now be based out of the University of Zurich, according to a recent announcement. Following negotiations with Future Earth, the university will serve as the new institutional home of bioDISCOVERY beginning in January 2017. The project mobilises a network of researchers around the world that seek to make breakthroughs in assessing, monitoring, understanding and predicting changes in biodiversity. bioDISCOVERY’s previous IPO was located at the University of Paris-Sud in France.

bioDISCOVERY was initially formed under DIVERSITAS, a precursor of Future Earth, in 2007. It coordinates research worldwide in three focal areas: strengthening biodiversity assessments, improving observation and understanding biodiversity change, as well as improving biodiversity projections. The aim is to progress not only research but also global policy in the arena of biodiversity. The Chair of the Scientific Steering Committee for bioDISCOVERY is Paul Leadley of the University of Paris-Sud.

The project works closely with the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a global science body that assesses the state of biodiversity worldwide. bioDISCOVERY, for example, supports the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Scenarios Network (ScenNet), which intends to strengthen national and international ties between researchers working on scenarios of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Such scenarios are critical to the work of IPBES, allowing the platform to help leaders and other decision-makers to make informed choices about what kinds of futures they want to work toward. ScenNet is funded by the Belmont Forum, a member of the Future Earth Governing Council.

The University of Zurich was chosen as the new IPO for bioDISCOVERY because of the interdisciplinary nature of the University Research Priority Program Global Change and Biodiversity. The programme brings together researchers from the natural sciences, humanities and the social sciences from two faculties and five institutes at the university. They carry out research on the relationships between biodiversity loss and environmental and social changes across the globe. 

“bioDISCOVERY was hosted by Université Paris-Sud for more than eight years, and Paul Leadley and I thank the university, as well as CNRS, for their support during that time,” says Cornelia Krug, Science Officer for bioDISCOVERY. “I am excited about the IPO’s move to Zurich, where it will be embedded in an interdisciplinary programme on global change and biodiversity. I believe that the excellent research conducted at Zurich, as well as the collaborations bioDISCOVERY has established under the leadership of Paul Leadley, will continue to foster the science that is necessary to understand biodiversity change, and to support the relevant policy processes on national and global scales.”

As part of the collaboration between the university and bioDISCOVERY, researchers will partner to expand global databases and archives of biodiversity. Scientists will also continue and improve efforts to observe and study endangered ecosystems, such as permafrost-dominated tundra, tropical rainforests and coral reefs. According to a statement, the partnership with bioDISCOVERY will help to make the university “a global hotspot for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary biodiversity research.” This type of research is carried out in collaboration with diverse members of society, including the public and private sectors and civil society.

“Embedding research findings in socially relevant matters by forging a strong link between science and policy is a very important transdisciplinary component of our University Research Priority Program,” says Bernhard Schmid, Co-Director of the Global Change and Biodiversity programme at the University of Zurich.

You can learn more about bioDISCOVERY here. Also read more about scenario building and IPBES on the Future Earth Blog.