Solutions for improving data access at the IUCN Congress 2016
02 Nov 2016
Article

The Caribbean Protected Areas Gateway (Caribbean Gateway) had an invaluable opportunity to share its model for linking data to better decision making on an international scale when it hosted a Knowledge Café at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress 2016.  

Coordinator for the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme in the Caribbean, Hyacinth Armstrong-Vaughn, used the roundtable discussion format of the Knowledge Café to discuss ideas and identify solutions for improving data access and reporting in the region through the Caribbean Gateway. 

The knowledge café was very useful in highlighting simple ideas for improving data access and stakeholder engagement, and identifying support services that could be provided by the Gateway.  It also reinforced for the Gateway team that they are on the right track with respect to their approach to stakeholder engagement and showing the value of the Gateway to the decision making process,” said Armstrong-Vaughn.“The next step is to increase engagement with stakeholders to increase the visibility of the Gateway and show its value and application through case studies,” she added.

The Technical Officer, Julian Walcott, described the knowledge Cafe as a new and unique experience that, despite being intimate, was highly productive.“It functioned as a think tank, which allowed the expertise, knowledge, and experiences from various sectors and countries to be drawn upon and crafted into valuable insights for moving forward,” said Walcott.

His role in the Knowledge Café was to highlight the progress made with the regional reference information system (RRIS) of the Caribbean Gateway and share the work that has been done in the Caribbean Gateway with respect to data gathering and analysis through the Open Data Initiative, and also the advances that have been made towards bridging the data-to-decision gap.

Changes in decision-making processes are required to really achieve the practice of linking data to better decisions. Decision and policy makers need to be conditioned to incorporate accurate, up-to-date data. Data custodians need to be convinced of the importance of their data (via uses cases and evidence) to decision making, and the gap between data custodians and decision makers need to be bridged by intermediaries (via capacity building and the development of strong relationships) who can provide meaningful and effective visualisations within appropriate  technologies,” reflected Walcott.

The Caribbean team got valuable feedback from their counterpart in the Pacific BIOPAMA programme, who is also involved in a similar exercise, as well as from University of Hawai’i academics, donor representatives and regional partners who are familiar with and have an interest in improving regional data management. Many other IUCN Congress events enabled the presentation and demonstration of the Caribbean Gateway. Learn more about it here.

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