Better data, better decisions, and smarter, ‘greener’ economies were the focus of discussion at a meeting held in Pretoria, South Africa 27-29 May. It was run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for Africa in collaboration with UNEP-WCMC.
The workshop – “Data and information management to underpin natural capital assessments and ecosystem resilience” – ended with a commitment from the UNEP Regional Office for Africa to develop a road map which can deliver some of the solutions to key challenges identified by participants around data and information for decision-making on sustainable, equitable, and greener African economies.
Over 40 participants drawn from 13 African countries represented various environment and finance Ministries, including statistics offices. Regional level experiences were shared by staff of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), The Resilience in the Limpopo Basin (RESILIM, USAID) project and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
Five key requirements to good data sharing were identified: 1) data being available and in the right format; 2) high human capacity and willingness to share; 3) indicators and analysis of data to answer the right questions; 4) timely reporting delivered to the right audience; and 5) a technological infrastructure which allows data movement.
The meeting helped build consensus on which data and information management issues facing African countries should take priority. Recognizing that you can only manage what you measure, UNEP-WCMC are working with partners to build projects that can provide the tools and capacity African governments’ need in order to integrate the full value of the environment into their decision-making.
The Director of UNEP’s Regional Office for Africa, Mr Mounkaila Goumandakoye, strongly endorsed the roadmap from the meeting. Additionally, the meeting further strengthened the relationship between UNEP-WCMC, UNEP South Africa, and USAID and confirmed the demand for UNEP-WCMC’s expertise in the region.
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A unique element of the meeting was the assistance of Jack Brougham from Scriberia, who helped to condense and summarise the discussions through beautiful visualizations (such as the one above). We will share these images, as well as interviews, presentations and formal minutes to create a comprehensive package outlining the opportunities available to African countries to improve their data and information management to start building “The future we want”.