Today, the so-called taxonomic impediment, i.e. the lack of taxonomic (inclusive of genetic) information, taxonomic and curatorial expertise and infrastructure in many parts of the world, makes that accessing and generating taxonomic information is extremely difficult.
To alter this trend, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) installed the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI) and endorsed it with an operational programme of work. Its objectives are to remedy the knowledge gaps in our taxonomic system, increase the number of well-trained taxonomists and curators, optimise the infrastructure needed to do sound taxonomic research, significantly improve access to taxonomic collections, data and metadata, and, thereby, to improve decision-making in conservation of biodiversity.
While it is incontestable that the legally-binding GTI programme has, since its official launch in 1998, significantly increased the political and scientific preparedness of parties to augment standing taxonomic and collection management capacity, the velocity with which this has happened has remained disappointingly low.
It is this observation that has inspired the Belgian National Focal Point for the GTI to construct Abc Taxa, a toll-free taxonomic information highway between experts and novices. It is believed that this artery will speed up the construction of taxonomic capacity, as it does not evoke the expensive, long-term teacher-apprentice relationships previously utilised to install operational, high-quality taxonomists and collection managers.