Over the past three decades, most sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries have developed national policies, legislations, plans, and institutions that are geared towards biodiversity conservation and management. However, evidently lacking in these instruments is the mechanisms for the generation, processing and sharing of biodiversity information. This study reviews the current biodiversity policy and institutional landscapes, and their impacts on the generation, processing, sharing, and use of biodiversity information for decision-making in SSA. We employed an integrated approach for data collection including literature review, telephone interviews and questionnaire administration. Findings show that biodiversity information has primarily been mobilized in an ad hoc manner through project surveys and academic research endeavours. Currently, majority of SSA countries still do not have standalone biodiversity policies that could prioritize biodiversity information and provide specific mechanisms and structures for the mobilization, processing and sharing of biodiversity information. Rather, efforts have focused on mainstreaming strategies and action plans into related sector policies and planning activities with potential impacts on biodiversity information. This move has not been entirely successful in sustaining efforts on biodiversity data and information generation, utilization and sharing. While the relevance of biodiversity information for national development is acknowledged by stakeholders, there are still major obstacles including: the lack of funding for data mobilization, weak institutional capacity, lack of individual competencies, and inadequate training on techniques for mobilizing biodiversity data and information. Advocating for value-added and demand-driven biodiversity information has the potential to garner policy support and legitimacy to reach the level of importance required for investment, capacity development and specialised institutions for biodiversity conservation in SSA.
Key words: Biodiversity, information, policies, institutions, sub-Saharan Africa.
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