Travelling the open road: open knowledge and sustainability in developing states

– Talks

Wednesday 18 September, 10.15 – 11:15 @ Main Stage Room 2, Ground Floor

Moderator:  Matthew SmithInternational Developments Research Centre (IDRC)


The highly diverse realms of ‘open’ enterprise ranging from open data and crowdsourcing to open educational resources (OER) and data mobility, from open hardware to collaborative design and the advent of internationally networked iHubs, Fablabs and open culture ‘maker’ spaces, can be linked into creating comprehensive Open Systems Solutions (#OSSOL) addressing complex social, economic and developmental challenges. Due to their inherently cross-disciplinary nature, #OSSOLs can for example be applied to the major United Nations global challenges of climate change mitigation & adaptation, delivering high quality education, the empowerment of women, youth and marginalized peoples, as well as post-crisis / post-disaster (PCPD) relief.

With reference to the UN’s WSIS Action Line on ‘Access to Information and Knowledge’ the talk will highlight the connection between challenges and solutions, linking innovation to need and context discussing how #OSSOL can have their greatest impact where people have simple access to them. These questions are also not entirely ones of technology or access to the Internet. The creation of secure spaces and places that in themselves are free, open and conducive to an open exchange of ideas, experience and opinion is one of the key overarching challenges linking almost all the scenarios of development, education, and empowerment.

The increased use of online tools has had profound impacts on land advocacy efforts over recent decades. When it comes to land governance issues, open knowledge becomes of outmost importance to overcome geographical, economic, cultural, and social exclusion. The use of online tools – such as the Land Portal – particularly by civil society organizations (CSOs), has enabled a diversity of new stakeholders to overcome geographical barriers to access information on land, communicate globally with other stakeholders, and participate in decision-making processes. This open source, open knowledge platform is aimed at facilitating the access to data, information and knowledge from multiple sources by integrating, organizing and visualizing dispersed data in an effective and easy to use format. As a user-driven platform it will be a tool at the service of the land governance community to improve transparency and decision making processes, monitor trends, identify information gaps and support data-driven campaigns and advocacy, leading to a more participatory effective and sustainable land governance.
This presentation will introduce the Land Portal and its new strategy and illustrate its relevance and value in the concrete case of land debate in Madagascar.

  • Open Sustainability: saving the Natural Commons with the Creative Commons

    – Jack Townsend, Web, Data and Sustainability Researcher, University of Southampton

Thanks to the internet, an ever increasing quantity and variety of knowledge is freely available for reuse. Open data, and other legally and technically accessible information, can provide excellent opportunities for advancing environmental sustainability, by increasing efficiency, fostering innovation and informing the political context. In addition the values of the open knowledge movement have much to contribute to sustainable development: the emphasis on sharing and the hacker ethic to “get excited and make things”. Nevertheless, whilst transparency per se is likely to bring economic and social benefits, yielding environmental ones could be more challenging. To develop a global conversation around this goal, a new working group of the Open Knowledge Foundation has recently been launched on Open Sustainability.

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