Open Data to Restore the Earth
By Nati Carfi, Interim Executive Director, Open Data Charter and Jesse Worker, Senior Associate, World Resources Institute
According to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, 10.3 million people were displaced as a result of climate-related events in the last six months alone. A new study also found that climate change will significantly increase the risk of population displacement. Displacement is just one of the many consequences to our lives. The moment to take action is now.
A few years ago, we introduced the first version of our Open Up Guide for Climate Action, a practical tool developed in collaboration with the World Resources Institute to promote the opening of high-value datasets of the climate agenda. After the two first pilot-mode implementations in Chile and Uruguay, we have since updated the Guide to include feedback from the community as well as new datasets, including oceanographic data. For countries like Chile and Uruguay that have large coastal lines, this type of data is critical to understanding the climate systems.
It is imperative that countries commit and implement much more ambitious actions to reduce emissions, especially in the short-term, and especially high-emitting countries. To do this while building climate resilience across societies, governments need to share information and data effectively and collaborate across society. WRI’s recent report “State of Climate Action: Assessing Progress toward 2030 and 2050” explored global and country-level progress across six key sectors, shared that while progress was being made in most cases, in only 2 cases out of 21 was the pace of progress “enough”. There were also cases that were “headed in the wrong direction altogether” and 4 cases where there was “simply not enough data to say where things stand.” In this case, these data have not been collected, historically.
Availability and access to these key datasets is critical and necessary for us to accurately track progress. Transparency is needed to understand the measures, advances and challenges met by governments developing their commitments to a greener world. For instance, a lack of transparency in data surrounding climate finance commitments and use is preventing accountability in meeting international commitments. Open data can help make UNFCCC reporting processes more coordinated and coherent across government and help understand the linkages between climate policies across sectors. In order to continue to unlock the power of data and its role in climate action, governments need to first, open up climate action data. And that’s what the Open Up Guide points to.
Bear in mind that it’s not just about getting the data and making it open either, we need to promote data reuse also. Reuse for data-driven accountability, for data-driven advocacy, for data-driven awareness of the major problem we are currently facing as humanity. Data reuse is a critical part of the virtuous cycle of open data.
This year’s theme for Earth Day is “Restore the Earth”. It is straight to the point and reminds us that we cannot keep taking our planet for granted. This is a climate emergency and governments must act bravely because our very near future depends on it.