A rotating image of a DNA helix

What is DSI?

Digital Sequence Information, or “DSI”, is a policy term that refers broadly to genomic sequence data and other related digital data. This includes the details of an organism’s DNA and RNA, which determine its characteristics and unique traits. There is yet no consensus as to the exact interpretation and scope of the term (for example whether it refers only to nucleotide sequences or also to the proteins and metabolites they encode).

  • Recent advances in sequencing technology and synthetic biology have made it easier than ever before to sequence, store, and share segments of DNA and RNA virtually.
  • DSI policies outcomes will have far-reaching implications for researchers that generate and use DSI.
  • DSI and its policy implications for access and benefit-sharing are currently being discussed among Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and in other fora.

Why is DSI important?

DSI underpins vast swathes of current research in the life sciences, and has contributed to significant advances in medicine, conservation, agriculture, and other fields. All countries use and provide DSI, and it is used for basic and applied research in both the public and private sector.

A network graph showing the countries Kenya shares DSI with and uses DSI from

DSI from Kenya

Used by 79 countries worldwide, while scientists in Kenya use DSI from 83 countries.

Visit the WiLDSI Data Portal to explore further

A network graph showing the countries Brazil shares DSI with and uses DSI from

DSI from Brazil

Used by 111 countries worldwide, while scientists in Brazil use DSI from 153 countries.

Visit the WiLDSI Data Portal to explore further

An Open Letter from the DSI Scientific Network

The Network, in partnership with other major international scientific organizations, has published an Open Letter advocating for equitable benefit-sharing solutions for DSI that preserve open sharing and promote biodiversity conservation. As COP15 negotiations resume, this is a key moment that may shape how DSI can be used and accessed for decades to come, and for researchers around the world. We invite other scientific organizations, national academies and individual researchers to join their voice to ours by co-signing the Open Letter.

Read & Sign the Open Letter
person wearing gloves preparing samples

The DSI Scientific Network (est 2020)

The Network’s mission is to contribute to policymakers and other stakeholders’ understanding of DSI, its applications and contributions to research supporting biodiversity conservation and public health, as well as the global benefits of open access to DSI databases. Our members believe that only through an informed debate will we be able to find a mechanism that enables research & innovation and fairly distributes DSI benefits.

The strategic direction and substantive elements of the outputs and activities of the Network are driven by the members, all acting in their individual expert capacity. Decisions affecting the Network’s status, mission, and priorities are made by consensus among the group. The Secretariat of the Network provides a supporting coordinating and logistical role carried out by staff from Emerging Ag.

“A win-win multilateral option for DSI”

Members of the Network recently published a peer-reviewed paper at the journal Nature Communications outlining a new policy proposal that would ensure fair benefit-sharing and protect open access to DSI, while promoting biodiversity conservation.

Read the paper

Upcoming Events

DSI will be an important topic at the international meetings and events listed below. Learn more about these events, and how you can engage in the debate about DSI and benefit-sharing.

21 – 26 June 2022 Nairobi, Kenya

Fourth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

An additional meeting of the Open-ended Working Group has recently been announced for late June in Nairobi as part of the ongoing preparatory meetings for the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of the Parties. Further discussions on DSI will form a key part of the agenda.

Third or Fourth Quarter 2022 (dates to be confirmed) Kunming, China

CBD COP-15 Part II

The second part of the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) will be held in Kunming, China. On the occasion, Parties will adopt the new Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which sets new goals and aims to transform society’s relationship with biodiversity.

DSI Members

Our members serve in their individual capacity and are researchers with experience in scientific research using DSI and committed to supporting informed decision-making on future access and benefit-sharing framework(s) for DSI. Members recognise that finding a solution, which balances the value of open access for researchers with the importance of benefit sharing, including monetary benefits, is essential to deliver a global biodiversity framework that meets the priorities of different stakeholders and contributes to the sustainable development goals.

Africa

Asia

Europe

Latin America

North America

Oceania