§ Dr. Gibson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) when he expects the Government to sign up to the OECD agreement on The Global Biodiversity Information Facility; 
(2) what commitments the Government have made to implement the terms of the agreement on The Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 
§ Mr. Meacher
We recognise that there is a need for global biodiversity data to be collected and managed, and therefore used to underpin the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The National Biodiversity Network, to which the Government have announced a £250,000 contribution, aim to do this for the UK. We recognise too that there is already much work going on globally producing many results and outputs. However, because there is no set protocol of compilation or standardisation of such work, its full potential, particularly when coupled with modern information technology, is not being realised.
The OECD has usefully identified this gap through its Mega Science Forum and has carried out some preliminary work in suggesting ways for promoting a mechanism to meet these needs.
Plans for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) are still being drafted and will not be ready for adoption and signature until the end of the year. We have, however, demonstrated our interest by playing a full part in the discussions so far and shall continue to do so. Our aim is to secure a GBIF which will meet its objectives cost effectively, and through collaboration with all information providers and collectors, all interested countries, and other arrangements and institutions including those associated with the Convention on Biological Diversity.