Opinion

Greater collaboration on open data critical to end world hunger

Published on 19 September 2016

Image of Kelly Shephard
Kelly Shephard

Head of Knowledge, Impact and Policy

The opening of data sources in agricultural research is needed to deliver the global goal of delivering zero hunger by 2030. However we must work together to unlock the hidden treasures in our data. This is the clear message from the GODAN 2016 summit.

The GODAN (Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition) initiative has more than 330 partners around the globe, including the UK, US and Kenyan governments who are committed to working together to open and share agricultural and nutritional data.

From weather data, investment data to combat epidemics such as Ebola or post-harvest data on loss and waste, speakers at the GODAN summit are clear that there is a need to not only to make data accessible but also to interrogate it and utilise it in innovative ways.

However, whilst the event agenda includes opportunities to play with data – indeed no data summit would be complete without a Hackathon – this isn’t a techie event. Effective data sharing and use is as much about the people as the numbers.

We must all work together to unlock the hidden treasures in our data. To this end, speakers at this event have been chosen to strengthen links between data, policy and real-life innovation. Many have spoken on the crucial need to breakdown silos and connect not just the dots and the numbers but also communities. Whilst innovatory technology is available it requires the backstory and the people to make it effective in efforts to reduce malnutrition and hunger.

Speaking on video link UN special advisor Dr David Nebarro, passionately drove this message home when he said, ‘there is a need to ensure disaggregated data is not only collected but data-based partnerships are also key to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals’.

Collective action is central to participating organisations such as ONE the global advocacy platform. Speaking on the need to situate and build on data Kate Van Waes, ONE Policy Director, explained that all of their work is governed by the 4 p’s principles – ‘policy, politics, public pressure and pop culture’. Making it clear that everyone – not just the usual suspects – has a role to play in implementing and sharing information in the quest to meet Sustainable Development Goal number two.

Wasting no time, GODAN 2016 summit participants are being called upon to Take action – everyone is being asked to sign a petition to call on governments, the private sector and civil society to provide open data on agriculture and nutrition to end world hunger. To add your voice please visit http://summit.godan.info/petition/

GODAN plan to present a petition during a forthcoming meeting at the UN in New York.

IDS are proud to be part of the GODAN Action programme which aims to support GODAN in its mission to build people’s capacity to engage with open data.

Photo of a visualisation from the GODAN Summit, photo by Kelly Shephard

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