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New global platform to provide one-stop access to curated reliable data on sustainability issues

New global platform to provide one-stop access to curated reliable data on sustainability issues

World Resources Institute (WRI),
and more than 30 partners,
including National Geographic, Google, Bloomberg and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), are launching Resource Watch, a dynamic platform that aims
to provide trusted and timely data for a sustainable future.

The platform leverages technology and near-real-time data to
bring transparency on the state of the planet’s people, resources and commerce,
all in one place. 

Resource Watch was created to address two global challenges:
a proliferation of data, and declining trust in institutions. Decision-makers
are faced with ever growing volumes of data, yet they are facing difficulties
in finding the information they need.

Curating and visualising
hundreds of datasets

Resource Watch acts as an easy-to-use monitoring tool that
curates and visualises reliable data.

The data on Resource Watch come from various sources,
including governments, intergovernmental organisations, research institutions,
and scientific publications. The team works with experts to select data sets
that are reliable and relevant to global sustainability challenges.

For instance, users can see where shrinking
reservoirs could cause instability
, which cities’ air pollution levels pose
a serious threat to their residents’ health, and watch a coral reef transform from
bleaching over time
. Data from near-real-time satellites and ground
sensors helps users track and visualise fires, floods, landslides, air quality,
natural disasters and other world events as they unfold.

Users can also download, analyse and visualise the data in many
ways, and share their insights.  

Screenshot from resourcewatch.org/data/explore

Resource Watch was designed with government staff, business
analysts, journalists, and researchers in mind, but the platform is free to use
for anyone. WRI will continue to add new data layers and functionality every
week.

"Until recently it wasn't possible to monitor the
health of Earth's critical resources in both a globally consistent and locally
relevant manner,” said Rebecca
Moore, Director of Google Earth. “Now with satellite data, cutting-edge
science and powerful cloud computing technology like Google Earth Engine, we
can achieve an unprecedented understanding of our changing environment and use
that to guide wiser decision-making. Google is excited to partner with WRI on
Resource Watch and the new global power plant database, putting this vision
into practice, and this data into the hands of those who can take
action.” 

Exploring intersections
between issues

The most complex sustainability challenges facing the world
today, such as climate change, food security, population growth, water scarcity,
are deeply intertwined. But people looking at these issues and the relevant
data are trapped in silos.

By looking at a single issue, people often miss the bigger
picture and fail to understand the full nature of a problem. The Resource Watch
platform allows users to overlay the hundreds of data sets available on climate
change, poverty, state instability, urban infrastructure and more and
explore their interconnectedness. By breaking down traditional silos and
studying how issues intersect, users can more effectively understand the causes
and find solutions to key problems. 

Janet Ranganathan,
Vice President, Science and Research, World Resources Institute, said, “Now,
Resource Watch allows users to see how issues intersect by visualising and
overlaying data in new ways. It helps analysts and decision-makers cut through
the daunting mountain of data to find the signal in the
noise."  

Open source
infrastructure

Resource Watch’s underlying data infrastructure (API) is
open source, which means that others can build on it to create their own
custom, self-branded applications. In this way, Resource Watch is a global
public good, enabling any organisation to leverage data for their own causes.

“Resource Watch’s open source architecture allows other
initiatives to leverage its data and visualization capability, creating
economies of scale and data synergies,” said Prof Sir Andy Haines, London School of Hygiene and Tropical
Medicine. “Resource Watch could power the development of a 'Planetary Health
Watch' system by making it possible to monitor environmental trends and their
effects on human health.” 

The Partnership for
Resilience and Preparedness
 (PREPdata) is the first example of a
custom interface to improve access to climate data and help communities build
climate resilience, and others are being developed. 

“When our institutions are being tested and science is
facing unprecedented attacks, we must increase transparency and speak with
clarity and conviction in support of sound science,” said Administrator McCarthy, Director of
the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of
Public Health and Advisor at Pegasus Capital Advisors. “Tools like Resource
Watch are essential for making science accessible to decision makers so we can
turn science into actions that advance policies, technologies and products that
improve public health.” 

Partners

The complete list of founding partners can be accessed here.

According to the Resource Watch website, partners support the
platform in one of the following ways:

  • Providing technical
    resources such as storage, computing, and technical expertise
  • Contributing data
    and insights on what’s happening around the world and how data can
    be used to drive action
  • Guiding system
    design to ensure Resource Watch is useful to a wide variety of
    users
  • Supporting the use
    of Resource Watch in specific communities who can utilize the data
    to advance a more sustainable future
  • Building on Resource
    Watch to create custom products and applications, and

Providing financial
support to enable Resource Watch to stay up to date and provide
free information to people around the globe

Resource Watch is funded by DOB Ecology (a foundation initiated by a
Dutch entrepreneurial family), Danida
(Denmark’s development cooperation, under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
Denmark), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the Swedish International Development
Cooperation
(a Swedish Government agency working to reduce poverty around
the world) and the Tilia Fund (a
partnership of private donors interested in solving the world's environmental
problems). 

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