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Data Information Flow Project Update

February 25, 2019 |

ISS Expedition 26 crew [Public domain]

Data challenges have topped the risk section of the Coalition’s annual natural capital landscape survey for the previous two years in-a-row.

In the survey, almost everyone who had conducted some form of capitals assessment independently raised data concerns as a significant challenge in their work.

But, when discussing data, respondents were almost never talking about exactly the same thing.

Some point to the lack of available data inputs, while others suggest that data inputs are too numerous and complex.

Some say that it’s too time consuming or expensive to convert available data into robust information, others that while they have capacity to convert this data, the data sets needed to generate robust information are disaggregated, incomparable or hidden behind paywalls.

In response to the challenges raised by the community, the Data Information Flow project – delivered by UNEP-WCMC on behalf of the Coalition – has begun to identify common barriers, and aims to build consensus around potential innovations and solutions.

Project partners initially reached out to the community to survey the current landscape and received perspectives from 120 individuals, representing 70 organizations. 10 in-depth interviews were then conducted with key actors across the system, including PwC and the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD).

By categorising and analysing these insights, project partners have reached broad agreement on a methodology to effectively categorize relevant data challenges.

Already, the project has confirmed that the overarching challenge is not the absence of data, but the absence of flow. Information is not flowing effectively between actors across the system. It is a problem underpinned by four elements: accessibility, infrastructure, quality and capacity.

By grouping barriers into manageable ‘buckets’, partners are now well placed to identify quick wins for business, longer term actions we can take forward as a community, and approaches that can be integrated across the Coalition’s ongoing activities, and those of our partners.

Central to our next steps will be convening actors across the data system – from providers to users – to build mutual understanding and co-create solutions.

To read a summary of our findings and next steps click here, or find the full report here. We also have a review of the currently available data guidance, outlining the primary user, impact or dependency focus, and challenge addressed which can be found here.

As with all of the Coalition’s activities, the Data Information Flow Project aims to be truly collaborative. If you would like to hear more or become involved please contact

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