Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC

Coordinated climate data needed for resilient food systems

The Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda has launched an initiative to support member countries to develop a coordinated national infrastructure for climate data to enable more resilient food systems.

With support from the Open Society Foundations, the Commonwealth is seeking to develop a model of digital public infrastructure (DPI) that will serve as a bedrock for national governments to use when making policy decisions around climate and agriculture.

At an event held today in the wings of COP28, the UN climate change summit, Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said:

“It is imperative to view agricultural data as a national asset, a cornerstone for economic growth and sustainability. Fragmented data sets are inefficient, ineffective and impact negatively on productivity.

“Digitalisation emerges as a beacon of hope, offering innovative solutions to traditional challenges in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.”

The meeting in Dubai sought to advance discussions with member governments on fostering collaborative and efficient data management across the Commonwealth with the goal of boosting intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.

Benjamin Kwasi Addom, Agriculture & Fisheries Trade Policy Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat, explained:

“Unfortunately, in most countries, there is no national approach for managing data. This leads to the deployment of multiple data management systems and approaches.

There is also an unwillingness of data holders to share their data, resulting in duplicated data systems and a range of inefficiencies, including poor policymaking and the inability to scale-up production.”

A national approach to managing data means leveraging data from the public and the private sectors to address the current challenge of multiple external players developing their own frameworks to assess the same key performance indicators (KPIs) of a country.

The Commonwealth is leading a multisectoral dialogue to explore a model of DPI for agricultural/climate data through national data infrastructure across the Commonwealth and beyond.

As a coordinator, the Commonwealth is facilitating bilateral engagement with key actors, convening policy makers, and producing knowledge products to guide the interventions.

Today’s event was attended by representatives from the Governments of Bangladesh, Barbados, Ghana and Malawi as well as the Global Centre on Adaptation and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture.

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