New Canadian headquarters for global biodiversity research network

The Group on Earth Observations - Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), relocates to Montreal, Quebec to capitalize on rich research environment and Artificial Intelligence (AI) expertise
Published: 6 July 2020

The Group on Earth Observations - Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), a global research network and community of practice dedicated to improved monitoring of Earth’s biodiversity, announces the relocation of its headquarters from Leipzig, Germany, to Montreal, Canada.

GEO BON responds to the urgent need for the best possible data and knowledge to support decisions to avoid unsustainable biodiversity loss. The information it provides will support international and national actions to meet biodiversity targets and Sustainable Development Goals.

“The urgency of the biodiversity crisis requires that we intensify our efforts to understand its causes and act to reverse these trends using the knowledge provided by the GEO BON community,” said McGill University professor Andrew Gonzalez, Director of the QCBS, and Co-Chair elect of GEO BON.

“This selection confirms both Montreal as a world-leader in supporting organizations focused on sustainability, and McGill University as a major centre of research into this field of crucial importance to our planet,” declared Martha Crago, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation) at McGill University.

Given its extensive expertise in supporting international organizations, Montreal International put its exceptional strategic know-how behind the bid to host GEO BON. “We are happy to be welcoming GEO BON to Montreal. We recognize that global loss of biodiversity is a critical issue facing our society and the presence of this organization in our region will help promote Montreal’s leadership. Montréal International is proud to support international organizations such as GEO BON, in carrying out initiatives as important as this one,” stated Stéphane Paquet President and CEO of Montréal International.

“The Montreal headquarters will provide our extensive biodiversity research community of researchers and students the opportunity to observe and participate in the development of worldwide responses to threats to biodiversity,” said Bruce Lennox, Dean of McGill’s Faculty of Science.

The Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science (QCBS) won the bid to host GEO BON, in partnership with the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Natures et Technologies, Montréal International, McGill University, Université de Montréal and Université de Shebrooke.

“Québec already hosts over 70 international agencies that contribute not only to the economic prosperity of its cities and regions, but also to the advancement of research in numerous fields of activity. So, it’s a particular honour that GEO BON has decided to locate in Montréal. Its contributions and expertise in climate change and artificial intelligence—two key priorities for the Government of Québec – will be most welcome!” said Nadine Girault, Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie.”

“We are all most excited that Montreal has been chosen as host city for GEO BON, this is a major addition to a group of international organisations based in our city and universities,” stated Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist, Fonds de Recherche du Québec. “Along with Secretariat for the Convention for Biological Diversity, Future Earth, GEO BON will add to our global impact in the field of sustainable development, a priority for the FRQ.”

Current GEO BON co-Chairs Mike Gill and Henrique Pereira declared that “the GEO BON Network has made great progress over the past decade, going from initial concept to the establishment of a systematic, global network for improved biodiversity observations. The passing of the secretariat and Chair to the Québec Centre for Biodiversity Science represents an exciting milestone for this global network. The next decade is crucial for bending the curve on biodiversity loss. The new secretariat’s leadership and excellence in biodiversity science and conservation, together with its strategic location and relations with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity will ensure that GEOBON remains at the centre of international efforts to improve biodiversity observations.”


The Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) is an initiative aimed at improving the availability of biodiversity change data to decision makers and scientists in support of policy. GEO BON initiates and coordinates efforts to design and implement interoperable national and regional biodiversity monitoring programs. With a rapidly growing network of close to 1000 members from more than 550 institutions and 90 countries, GEO BON combines state-of-the-art research, with the common goal of enhancing the value of biodiversity data and making policy-ready recommendations to decision-makers based on observed trends in animal, plant and microbial life. GEO BON will support the tracking and implementation of the next generation of biodiversity targets aimed at halting the runaway extinction of species and the degradation of the ecosystems that provide so many benefits to human society.

About McGill University

Founded in 1821, McGill University is home to exceptional students, faculty, and staff from across Canada and around the world. It is consistently ranked as one of the top universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned institution of higher learning with research activities spanning two campuses, 11 faculties, 13 professional schools, 300 programs of study and over 40,000 students, including more than 10,200 graduate students.  McGill’s commitment to sustainability reaches back several decades and spans scales from local to global. The sustainability declarations that we have signed affirm our role in helping to shape a future where people and the planet can flourish.  

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