GOBI is an international partnership of institutions committed to advancing the scientific basis for conserving biological diversity in the marine environment. In particular, GOBI contributes expertise, knowledge and data to support the Convention on Biological Diversity’s efforts to identify ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) by assisting a range of intergovernmental, regional and national organisations to use and develop data, tools and methodologies.

GOBI also undertakes research that will generate new science to enhance the value of EBSAs and their utility for promoting environmental protection and management for specific areas of the world’s oceans. The intention is ultimately to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss through the application of ecosystem approaches to the management of human activities, and to support the establishment of networks of representative marine protected areas in national and international waters. In 2016, GOBI secured funding from the German International Climate Initiative (IKI) in support of a multi-year programme of interdisciplinary research to further GOBI’s work in conserving biodiversity in the deep seas and open oceans.

GOBI’s objectives are:

  1. To drive and support an international scientific collaboration to assist governments and relevant regional and global organisations to identify ecologically or biologically significant areas of the ocean using the best available scientific data, tools and methods.
  2. To provide guidance on how the Convention on Biological Diversity’s EBSA criteria and United Nations resolutions can be interpreted and applied to inform management, including the designation of representative networks of marine protected areas.
  3. To generate new knowledge, develop regional analyses and assist in regional capacity building with relevant organisations and stakeholders.


GOBI was established in 2008 as a collaboration between the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations Environmental Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the Marine Conservation Biology Institute (MCBI), the Census of Marine Life, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) and the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab of Duke University (MGEL). Today, the GOBI community has grown to more than 40 partner institutions around the world who work together to help protect the marine environment.


Since 2013, the GOBI community has been serviced by a Secretariat, provided by Seascape Consultants Ltd with financial support from the German government. The GOBI Secretariat is currently funded via the International Climate Initiative. GOBI is coordinated by Prof. David Johnson. Dr Vikki Gunn leads the GOBI Secretariat team, with support from Dr Christopher Barrio Froján. To coordinate its activities with those of other organisations, GOBI is guided by an Advisory Board and a Scientific Steering Committee.

The GOBI Advisory Board comprises representatives from the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Global Environment Facility, the International Maritime Organisation, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the International Seabed Authority, the UN Development Programme, the UN Environment Programme and, as an observer, the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs.

The GOBI Scientific Steering Committee comprises a team of international scientists from our partner organisations who ensure the fulfilment of GOBI’s objectives.

Looking ahead

GOBI partners continue to engage with each other and to facilitate cooperation amongst national governments, international and non-governmental organisations, as well as with industry stakeholders, to improve the scientific basis for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. Expressions of interest to become a GOBI partner are always welcome, particularly from institutions in regions that are currently under-represented in the partnership. For more information, please contact the GOBI Secretariat.

Events calendar

GOBI participates in, contributes to, and organises numerous events in the marine conservation calendar; a list of this year’s major scheduled events can be found here.