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Sustainable food Green Hackathon

Jorge Zapico - September 1, 2014 in Events, Featured

14884688968_112d5cc4b0_kAugust 23rd we organized a Green Hackathon in Stockholm, back at the reactor hall where the first Green Hackathon was hosted. The focus of the hackathon was sustainable food. We invited developers, researchers, designers, retailers, food producers, to get together and prototype solutions for a more sustainable food system. This time the event was organized as a preconference activity to ICT4S, an international conference on the use of ICT for sustainability, and it was organized by the Centre for Sustainable Communications at KTH, as part of the project From Data to Sustainable Practices, in collaboration with COOP Sverige and supported by OKFN Sweden & Open Sustainability WG. Me and Jack Townsend from the sustainability working group participated.

The starting point of the event was that food production and consumption have become a major driver behind environmental degradation, such as climate change, biodiversity loss and degradation of land and freshwater. Agriculture must be transformed to be sustainable and must deliver sufficient amounts of food for the growing population (both through increased efficiency and dietary changes) and also cut greenhouse gas emissions; counteract biodiversity loss; reduce water use and phase out pollution from agricultural chemicals.

14884640070_2714428b33_kThe participants of the hackathon were a mix of researchers, designers, programmer, problem owners and innovators. The keynote was followed by a time for team building and networking time, with “speed dating” to get the participants to know each other and their respective field of expertise and to generate ideas. After some ideas crystallised into groups, the hackathon started and the groups had around seven hours to build their concepts and prototypes.

The Green Hackathon was located at R1, the dismantled underground nuclear reactor hall under KTH campus in Stockholm.

 

15068281741_91c5ed4657_kMore in Flickr

The Green Hackathon had two winners looking at how to reduce the amount of food waste:

Eat Exchange

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Eat Exchange is a mobile application, which allows local community to share food that would have been wasted. The application would enable individuals to advertise the food that they wouldn’t be able to consume. Then the supply of spare food would be collected by the members of the community who would otherwise need to buy it.

Made by: Christopher Weeks, Daniel Schien, Pernilla Hagbert, Friedrich Chasin, Ole Schultz, Tipa Stefan, Theodorou Sophy-Emmanouela. More info.

Last Minute Food

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A prototype application that proposes gathering information from COOP supermarkets about the food that is about to expire and allow the users to explore recipes based on those ingredients and to facilitate the purchase.

By: Sotiris Salloumis, Gaye Georgia, Johan Zetterquist, Jacky Bourgeois, Sophie Uesson, John Chang.

The rest of the hacks were:

Urban Fruit Initiative App

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A web interface for urban fruit initiative, an existing project which connects homeowners with apple trees with pickers and produces apple juice. The prototype provide an easier way to register and broker the connection between the two groups.

Made by: Richard Blume, Mrhetab Kidane, Andrew Kobylin. More info.

Cosecha:

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A planning tool to calculate the amount of different crops to grow in a given field connected to yield and revenue.

Made by: Jorge Zapico. More info.

Seasonal Green Recommender

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 17.25.39

A web prototype application which try to tackle the the gap in consumer awereness by recommending recipes based on seasonality.

Made by: Sevag Balkorkian, Samuel Chinenyeze, Haftom Tesfay. More info.

 

“Carbon dioxide data is not on the world’s dashboard” says Hans Rosling

Jonathan Gray - January 21, 2013 in Carbon Emissions, Featured

*[Professor Hans Rosling](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Rosling), co-founder and chairman of the [Gapminder Foundation](http://www.gapminder.org/) and [Advisory Board Member](https://okfn.org/about/team/board/#professor-hans-rosling) at the Open Knowledge Foundation, received a standing ovation for his keynote at [OKFestival](http://okfestival.org/) in Helsinki in September in which he [urged open data advocates to demand CO2 data from governments around the world](https://blog.okfn.org/2012/09/21/demand-carbon-dioxide-data-says-hans-rosling-to-open-data-advocates-at-okfestival/).*

*Following on from this, the Open Knowledge Foundation’s [Jonathan Gray](http://jonathangray.org/) interviewed Professor Rosling about CO2 data and his ideas about how better data-driven advocacy and reportage might help to mobilise citizens and pressure governments to act to avert catastrophic changes in the world’s climate.*

**Hello Professor Rosling!**

Hi.

**Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Is it okay if we jump straight into it?**

Yes! I’m just going to get myself a banana and some ginger cake.

**Good idea.**

Just so you know: if I sound strange, it’s because I’ve got this ginger cake.

**A very sensible idea. So in your talk in Helsinki you said you’d like to see more CO2 data opened up. Can you say a bit more about this?**

In order to get access to public statistics, first the [microdata](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microdata_(statistics)) must be collected, then it must be compiled into useful indicators, and then these indicators must be published. The amount of coal one factory burnt during one year is microdata. The emission of carbon dioxide per year per person in one country is an indicator. Microdata and indicators are very very different numbers. CO2 emissions data is often compiled with great delays. The collection is based on already existing microdata from several sources, which civil servants compile and convert into carbon dioxide emissions.

Let’s compare this with calculating GDP per capita, which also requires an amazing amount of collection of microdata, which has to be compiled and converted and so on. That is done every quarter for each country. And it is swiftly published. It guides economic policy. It is like a speedometer. You know when you drive your car you have to check your speed all the time. The speed is shown on the dashboard.

Carbon dioxide is not on the dashboard at all. It’s like something you get with several years delay, when you are back from the trip. It seems that governments don’t want to get it swiftly. And when they publish it finally, they publish it as total emissions per country. They don’t want to show emission per person, because then the rich countries stand out as worse polluters than China and India. So it is not just an issue about *open* data. We must push for change in the whole way in which emissions data is handled and compiled.

**You also said that you’d like to see more data-driven advocacy and reportage. Can you tell us what kind of thing you are thinking of?**

Basically everyone admits that the basic vision of the green movement is correct. Everyone agrees on that. By continuing to exploit natural resources for short term benefits you will cause a lot of harm. You have to understand the long-term impact. Businesses have to be regulated. Everyone agrees.

Now, how much should we regulate? Which risks are worse, climate or nuclear? How should we judge the bad effects of having nuclear electricity? The bad effects of coal production? These are difficult political judgments. I don’t want to interfere with these political judgments, but people should know the orders of magnitude involved, the changes, what is needed to avoid certain consequences. But that data is not even compiled fast enough, and the activists do not protest, because it seems they do not need data?

Let’s take one example. In Sweden we have data from the energy authority. They say: “energy produced from nuclear”. Then they include two outputs. One is the electricity that goes out into the lines and that lights the house that I’m sitting in. The other is the warm waste water that goes back into the sea. That is also energy they say. It is actually like a fraud to pretend that that is energy production. Nobody gets any benefit from it. On the contrary, they are changing the ecology of the sea. But they get away with it as the destination is energy produced.

We need to be able to see the energy supply for human activity from each source and how it changes over time. The people who are now involved in producing solar and wind produce very nice reports on how production increase each year. Many get the impression that we have 10, 20, 30% of our energy from solar and wind. But even with fast growth from almost zero solar and wind it is nothing yet. The news reports mostly neglect to explain the difference in percentage growth of solar and wind energy and their percent of total energy supply.

People who are too much into data and into handling data may not understand how the main misconceptions come about. Most people are so surprised when I show them total energy production in the world on one graph. They can’t yet see solar because it hasn’t reached one pixel yet.

**So this isn’t of course just about having more data, but about having more data literate discussion and debate – ultimately about improving public understanding?**

It’s like that basic rule in nutrition: Food that is not eaten has no nutritional value. Data which is not understood has no value.

It is interesting that you use the term data literacy. Actually I think it is presentation skills we are talking about. Because if you don’t adapt your way of presenting to the way that people understand it, then you won’t get it through. You must prepare the food in a way that makes people want to eat it. The dream that you will train the entire population to about one semester of statistics in university: that’s wrong. Statisticians often think that they will teach the public to understand data the way they do, but instead they should turn data into Donald Duck animations and make the story interesting. Otherwise you will never ever make it. Remember, you are fighting with Britney Spears and tabloid newspapers. My biggest success in life was December 2010 on the YouTube entertainment category in the United Kingdom. I had most views that month. And I beat Lady Gaga with statistics.

**Amazing.**

Just the fact that the guy in the BBC in charge of uploading the trailer put me under ‘entertainment’ was a success. No-one thought of putting a trailer for a statistics documentary under entertainment.

That’s what we do at Gapminder. We try to present data in a way that makes people want to consume it. It’s a bit like being a chef in a restaurant. I don’t grow the crop. The statisticians are like the farmers that produce the food. Open data provide free access to potatoes, tomatoes and eggs and whatever it is. We are preparing it and making a delicious food. If you really want people to read it, you have to make data as easy to consume as fish and chips. Do not expect people to become statistically literate! Turn data into understandable animations.

My impression is that some of the best applications of open data that we find are when we get access to data in a specific area, which is highly organized. One of my favorite applications in Sweden is a train timetable app. I can check all the communter train departures from Stockholm to Uppsala, including the last change of platform and whether there is a delay. I can choose how to transfer quickly from the underground to the train to get home fastest. The government owns the rails and every train reports their arrival and departure continuously. This data is publicly available as open data. Then a designer made an app and made the data very easy for me to understand and use.

But to create an app which shows the determinants of unemployment in the different counties of Sweden? No-one can do that because that is a great analytical research task. You have to take data from very many different sources and make predictions. I saw a presentation about this yesterday at the Institute for Future Studies. The PowerPoint graphics were *ugly*, but the analysis was *beautiful*. In this case the researchers need a designer to make their findings understandable to the broad public, and together they could build an app that would predict unemployment month by month.

**The CDIAC publish CO2 data for the atmosphere and the ocean, and they publish national and global emissions data. The UNFCCC publish national greenhouse gas inventories. What are the key datasets that you’d like to get hold of that are currently hard to get, and who currently holds these?**

I have no coherent CO2 dataset for the world beyond 2008 at the present. I want to have this data until last year, at least. I would also welcome half year data but I understand this can be difficult because carbon dioxide emission vary for transport, heating or cooling of houses over the seasons of the year. So just give me the past year’s data in March. And in April/May for all countries in the world. Then we can hold government accountable for what happens year by year.

Let me tell you a bit about what happens in Sweden. The National Natural Protection Agency gets the data from the Energy Department and from other public sources. Then they give these datasets to consultants at the University of Agriculture and the Meteorological Authority. Then the consultants work on these datasets for half a year. They compile them, the administrators look through them and they publish them in mid-December, when Swedes start to get obsessed about Christmas. So that means that there was a delay of eleven and a half months.

So I started to criticize that. My cutting line was when I was with the Minister of Environment and she was going to Durban. And I said “But you are going to Durban with eleven and a half month constipation. What if all of this shit comes out on stage? That would be embarrassing wouldn’t it?”. Because I knew that she had in 2010 an increase in carbon dioxide emission and it increased by 10%. But she only published that coming back from Durban. So that became a political issue on TV. And then the government promised to make it earlier. So 2012 we got CO2 data by mid-October, and 2013 we’re going to get it in April.

**Fantastic.**

But actually ridiculing is the only way that worked. That’s how we liberated the World Bank’s data. I ridiculed the President of the World Bank at an international meeting. People were laughing. That became too much.

The governments in the rich countries don’t want the world to see emissions per capita. They want to publish emissions per country. This is very convenient for Germany, UK, not to mention Denmark and Norway. Then they can say the big emission countries are China and India. It is so stupid to look at total emissions per country. This allows small countries to emit as much as they want because they are just not big enough to matter. Norway hasn’t reduced their emissions for the last forty years. Instead they spend their aid money to help Brazil to replant rainforest. At the same time Brazil lends 200 times more money to the United States of America to help them consume more and emit more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Just to put these numbers up makes a very strong case. But I need to have timely carbon dioxide emission data. But not even climate activists ask for this. Perhaps it is because they are not really governing countries. The right wing politicians need data on economic growth, the left wing need data on unemployment but the greens don’t yet seem to need data in the same way.

**As well as issues getting hold of data at a national level, are there international agencies that hold data that you can’t get hold?**

It is like a reflection. If you can’t get data from the countries for eleven and a half months, why the heck should the UN or the World Bank compile it faster? Think of your household. There are things you do daily, that you need swiftly. Breakfast for your kids. Then, you know, repainting the house. I didn’t do it last year, so why should I do it this year? It just becomes slow the whole system. If politicians are not in a hurry to get data for their own country, they are not in a hurry to compare their data to other countries. They just do not want this data to be seen during their election period.

**So really what you’re saying that you’d recommend is stronger political pressure through ridicule on different national agencies?**

Yes. Or sit outside and protest. Do a Greenpeace action on them.

**Can you think of datasets about carbon dioxide emissions which aren’t currently being collected, but which you think should be collected?**

Yes. In a very cunning way China, South Africa and Russia like to be placed in the developing world and they don’t publish CO2 data very rapidly because they know it will be turned against them in international negotiations. They are not in a hurry. The Kyoto Protocol at least made it compulsory for the richest countries to report their data because they had committed to decrease. But every country should do this. All should be able to know how much coal each country consumed, how much oil they consumed, etc and from that data have a calculation made on how much CO2 each country emitted last year.

It is strange that the best country to do this – and it is painful for a Swede to accept this – is the United States. CDIAC. Federal Agencies in US are very good on data and they take on the whole world. CDIAC make estimates for the rest of the world. Another US agency I really like is the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Denver, Colorado. Thay give us 24 hours updates on the polar sea ice area. That’s really useful. They are also highly professional. In the US the data producers are far away from political manipulation. When you see the use of fossil fuels in the world there is only one distinct dip. That dip could be attributed to the best environmental politician ever. The dip in CO2 emissions took place in 2008. George W. Bush, Greenspan and the Lehman Brothers decreased CO2 emissions by inducing a financial crisis. It was the most significant reduction on the use of fossil fuels in modern history.

I say this to put things into proportion. So far it is only financial downturns that have had an effect on the emission of greenhouse gases. The whole of environmental policy hasn’t yet had any such dramatic effect. I checked this with Al Gore personally. I asked him “Can I make this joke? That Bush was better for the climate than you were?”. “Do that!”, he said, “You’re correct.” Once we show this data people can see that the economic downturn so far was the most forceful effect on CO2 emission.

**If you could have all of the CO2 and climate data in the world, what would you do with it?**

We’re going to make teaching materials for high schools and colleges. We will cover the main aspects of global change so that we produce a coherent data-driven worldview, which starts with population, and then covers money, energy, living standards, food, education, health, security, and a few other major aspects of human life. And for each dimension we will pick a few indicators. Instead of doing Gapminder World with the bubbles that can display hundreds of indicators we plan a few small apps where you get a selected few indicators but can drill down. Start with world, world regions, countries, subnational level, sometimes you split male and female, sometimes counties, sometimes you split income groups. And we’re trying to make this in a coherent graphic and color scheme, so that we really can convey an upgraded world view.

Very very simple and beautiful but with very few jokes. Just straightforward understanding. And for climate impact we will relate to the economy. To relate to the number of people at different economic levels, how much energy they use and then drill down into the type of energy they use and how that energy source mix affects the carbon dioxide emissions. And make trends forward. We will rely on the official and most credible trend forecast for population, one, two or more for energy and economic trends etc. But we will not go into what needs to be done. Or how should it be achieved. We will stay away from politics. We will stay away from all data which is under debate. Just use data with good consensus, so that we create a basic worldview. Users can then benefit from an upgraded world view when thinking and debating about the future. That’s our idea. If we provide the very basic worldview, others will create more precise data in each area, and break it down into details.

**A group of people inspired by your talk in Helsinki are [currently starting a working group](http://sustainability.okfn.org/) dedicated to opening up and reusing CO2 data. What advice would you give them and what would you suggest that they focus on?**

Put me in contact with them! We can just go for one indicator: carbon dioxide emission per person per year. Swift reporting. Just that.

**Thank you very much Professor Rosling.**

Thank you.

*If you want help to liberate, analyse or communicate carbon emissions data in your country, you can [join the OKFN’s Open Sustainability Working Group](http://sustainability.okfn.org/get-involved/).*

A little tweak to the broken carbon dashboard

hiyamaya - January 9, 2013 in Carbon Emissions, Featured, Private Sector Data

Reposted from hiyamaya.wordpress.com

The broken dashboard

Over the past ten years it has become an almost universal requirement for major global companies to measure and report on their carbon emissions. Data has mounted up, awards have been made and rankings drawn up to sort the leaders from the laggards.

The quality of the data and its coverage is improving steadily.  But there is precious little sign that all this transparency is making a difference.  The most recent estimates are that to avoid climate change beyond 2°C, the emission intensity of the global economy needs to decrease by 5.1% a year, through energy efficiency, renewable energy and economically viable carbon sequestration. Over the past ten years the rate has stood at around 0.7%.

For carbon emission transparency to be effective it needs to support trillions of dollars of investment to shift out of ‘brown’ and into ‘green’ industries and solutions. Every investment decision drives the global economy either closer or further away from the carbon precipice, but the dashboard to show the direction of motion is broken.

There is now increasing focus not just on compiling more and better data, but on  doing smarter ‘climate maths’ to make information meaningful to investors and for the public debate. The most recent examples of this are the Carbon Tracker initiative, and Bill McKibben’s ‘Do the Math’ tour.

Making corporate carbon emissions data meaningful

A few companies (to date BT, Autodesk and EMC) have already adopted a way to report emissions in the context of a global carbon budget. Based on the ‘Climate Stabilisation Index’ approach developed by Jorgen Randers and Chris Tuppen, these companies are relating the proportion of the global emission budget they use up each year to the proportion of global value creation they provide (using Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) as the financial denominator).

Autodesk graph

Autodesk’s graph showing how companies’ emission pathways compare with global ‘required by science’ goals.

Read the rest of this entry →

Introducing OpenOil

Velichka Dimitrova - December 13, 2012 in Announcements, Extractive Industries, Featured

This blog post is written by Zara Rahman and is cross-posted from the Open Economics Blog.

About OpenOil and transparency

I work for a transparency organisation and small publishing house, called OpenOil. We work on resource curse issues: trying to ensure that citizens of resource-rich countries can reap the benefits of their natural resources. Since our beginning – just 16 months ago – we have run projects on site in Colombia, Iraq, Libya and, as of last Saturday, Uganda. All our work is released under Creative Commons License and is created using open-source software.

Telling people I work for an organisation called OpenOil always provokes some interesting and varied reactions, e.g.:

  • “Has an oil company paid you to come here?”
  • “But it’s time to move away from hydrocarbons, oil has terrible effects on the environment!”
  • “Wow, you must have a lot of work to do, surely improving the way the oil industry is run is a lost battle already”

In answer to the first – no, all of our funding is from the public sector – including the UNDP, the German Agency for International Cooperation and NGOs like Revenue Watch Institute and Internews, amongst others.

Secondly – yes, we know. We take the pragmatic approach that even by best estimates, we will not have a post-hydrocarbon economy for at least another 30 years, and until then oil will be generating huge revenues. This money could (and should) be used for the benefit of the citizens of resource-rich countries: not to fuel wars, or keep dictators in power, but to improve citizens’ quality of life, and ensure a smoother transition to greener energy.

The focus should indeed be on renewables, but in many oil-producing countries, it is the money from oil that will be funding the development of other energy sources. If this money is being wasted or lost in corruption and anti-transparent practices, it only reduces the amount of money that can be invested into better, long-term solutions to providing energy access.

And thirdly – yes, we do have a lot of work to do, but it’s most definitely not a waste of time. Recently, we have been working on oil industry contracts and there have been some questions about the aim of that project and the ideal outcome. We calculated that if African governments were able, on average, to increase their take of their natural resource revenue by just one percent, that would be the same as increasing development aid funds by 20 percent.

The gargantuan size of the oil industry means that even the tiniest increase in transparency and improvement in management could have huge effects on the lives of millions: we and other NGOs and initiatives think this is definitely worth a try.

Addressing issues of transparency: Oil wikis

OpenOil also acts as a publishing house. This happened almost organically – in 2009, I worked with the founder of OpenOil, Johnny West, on a UNDP project creating a wiki on the Iraqi oil industry. It was written using Media Wiki software, following Wikipedia editing guidelines – no original research, more of ‘digital curation’, pulling together information that is out there but is somewhat inaccessible. When OpenOil started in 2011, the idea of creating oil wikis came up again, and together with it, the concept of self-publishing: pulling out pages from the wiki to create hard copy books, or “Oil Almanacs”.

We developed a larger project based on the wikis and the idea of using the wiki to create a wider knowledge community around the extractive industries on a country by country basis. First we create the structure, as well as a few articles, then we run workshops in country for journalists or civil society on how to add to and edit the wiki, as well as a few of the more complex issues in the oil industry. At the end of the project, we hand over ownership of the local language wiki to their institute or organisation, based on the premise that it is easier to maintain if it is housed within a stable organisation than within a group of individuals.

So far, we have developed wikis (see http://wiki.openoil.net ) for Colombia (also in Spanish), Ghana, Iran, Iraq (also in Arabic), Libya, Niger (also in French), South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria. Work on building a Uganda wiki began just recently, as my colleague Amrit is in Kampala for the next 3 weeks, working with journalists from the Uganda Radio Network. All of the wikis are available on the internet, and we have printed out and distributed books in almost all of the relevant countries (except Iran and Niger so far).

Understanding oil contracts

Another main project has been around understanding oil contracts. As contract transparency is emerging as a norm of best practice, we wanted to provide people with a key tool to help understand complex contracts. The book was produced using the booksprint method, facilitated by Adam Hyde, founder of Booksprints.net, which involved bringing together a group of 10 experts on the topic of oil contracts, and writing the book from start to finish in just one week. It has now been released under Creative Commons, and is free for download from our site.

We are now looking for ways to take this generic book forward, including running low-cost training courses, partnering with local organisations to produce country-specific versions, and expanding the scope of the book to include mining contracts. Next week, it will be distributed in Beirut to members of the Yemeni and Iraqi Publish What You Pay coalitions, as part of a workshop session on understanding contracts.

Other publishing ventures include a guide on publicly-available oil data, entitled Exploring Oil Data – A Reporter’s Handbook, which includes summaries of good blogs, Twitter feeds, consultancies and think tanks producing free materials, and a glossary of oil terms, also available now for download.

Ongoing projects include looking into the use of the flat rate dividend as a way of distributing oil wealth to citizens and getting rid of anti-poor fuel subsidies, as well as research papers on the Libyan oil industry. Through all of these efforts, we hope that combining an ‘open’ way of thinking to the secretive oil industry can have a positive effect on management of the industry, with knock on benefits to citizens of resource rich-countries.

To find out more about OpenOil, please go to http://openoil.net or email zara.rahman(at)openoil.net 

 

Launching the Open Sustainability Working Group

Velichka Dimitrova - December 6, 2012 in Announcements, Featured

This blog post is written by Jorge Zapico, researcher at the Center for Sustainable Communications at KTH The Royal Institute of Technology and Velichka Dimitrova, Project Coordinator for Economics and Energy at the Open Knowledge Foundation

Sign up to Open Sustainability

Sustainability is one of the most important challenges of our time. We are facing global environmental crises, such as climate change, resource depletion, deforestation, overfishing, eutrophication, loss of biodiversity, soil degradation, environmental pollution, etc. We need to move towards a more sustainable and resilient society, that ensures the well-being of current and future generations, that allows us to progress while stewarding the finite resources and the ecosystems we depend on.

Data is needed to monitor the condition of the environment and to measure how we are performing and progressing (or not) towards sustainability. Transparency and feedback is key for good decision-making, for allowing accountability and for tracking and tuning performance. This is true both at an institutional level, such as working with national climate change goals; at a company level, such as deciding the materials for building a product; and at a personal level, deciding between chicken and salmon at the supermarket. However, most of the environmental information is closed, outdated, static, or/and in text documents that are not possible to process.

For instance, unlike gross domestic product (GDP) and other publicly available data, carbon dioxide emissions data is not published frequently and in disaggregated form. While the current international climate negotiations at Doha discuss joint global efforts for the reduction of greenhouse gas emission, climate data is not freely and widely available.

“Demand CO2 data!” urged Hans Rosling at the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki last September#, encouraging a data-driven discussion of energy and resources. “We can have climate change beyond our expectations, which we haven’t done anything in time for” said Rosling in outlining the biggest challenges of our time. Activists don’t even demand the data. Many countries, such as Sweden, show up for climate negotiations without having done their CO2 emissions reporting for many months. Our countries should report on climate data in order for us to see the big picture.

Sustainability data should be open and freely available so anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it. This data should be easy to access, both usable for the public but also accessible in standard machine-readable formats for enabling reuse and remix. And by sustainability data we do not mean only CO2 information, but all data that is necessary for measuring the state of, and changes in, the environment, and data which supports progress towards sustainability. This include a diversity of things like: scientific climate data and temperature records, environmental impact assessment of products and services, emissions and pollution information from companies and governments, energy production data or ecosystem health indicators.

To move towards this goal, we are founding a new Working Group on Open Sustainability, which seeks to:

  • advocate and promote the opening up of sustainability information and datasets
  • collect sustainability information and maintain a knowledge base of datasets
  • act as a support environment / hub for the development of community-driven projects
  • provide a neutral platform for working towards standards and harmonization of open sustainability data between different groups and projects.

The Open Sustainability Working Group is open for anyone to join. We hope to form an interdisciplinary network from a range of backgrounds such as academics, business people, civil servants, technologists, campaigners, consultants and those from NGOs and international institutions. Relevant areas of expertise include sustainability, industrial ecology, climate and environmental science, cleanweb development, ecological economics, social science, sustainability, energy, open data and transparency. Join the Open Sustainability Working Group by signing up to the mailing list to share your ideas and to contribute.

Creating a more sustainable society and mitigating climate change are some of the very hardest challenges we face. It will require us to collaborate, to create new knowledge together and new ways of doing things. We need open data about the state of the planet, we need transparency about emissions and the impact of products and industries, we need feedback and we need accountability. We want to leverage all the ideas, technologies and energy we can to prevent catastrophic environmental change.

This initiative was started by the OKFestival Open Knowledge and Sustainability and Green Hackathon team including Jorge Zapico, Hannes Ebner (The Centre for Sustainable Communications at KTH), James Smith (Cleanweb UK), Chris Adams (AMEE), Jack Townsend (Southampton University) and Velichka Dimitrova (Open Knowledge Foundation).