The UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is UNEP's biodiversity assessment and policy support centre acting as a global integrator for biodiversity information. Its work is governed by a number of international mandates and includes ecosystem assessments, support for the implementation of environmental agreements, compilation and management of regional and global biodiversity information, research on threats and impacts, and the development of future scenarios.
In support of the Centre’s work a public-private partnership – Proteus – was launched in late 2003 as an ambitious five-year programme to make biodiversity information more freely available to the world and as a first step it made resources available for the Centre to turn its data holdings into a more cohesive set of linked databases.
The first three years of Proteus strengthened internal processes at UNEP-WCMC and brought together ecological and environmental information for presentation to a wide audience via the Internet. It resulted in:
In early 2006 Proteus was refocused exclusively on rebuilding the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) and improving its quality in priority areas. The WDPA is a 'foundation' dataset for conservation activity worldwide, and central to high-level risk assessment for private sector activities that have a footprint on the natural world.