Mongolian pastoralists with their herd of yaks. There are an estimated 200-500 million pastoralists whose livelihoods depend on rangelands around the world. Photo ILRI

Rangelands data platform wins the vote in Big Data’s 2020 Inspire Challenge

Blog post

Rangelands' profile is getting a boost after the bid led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partners for a coveted Big Data Platform Inspire Challenge award was successful. The US$100,000 prize money will go towards kickstarting the development of a much-needed global data platform on rangelands.

The data platform will draw from different sources (existing national and global data sets on rangelands, earth observation satellites, national level government data and others) and produce data for different users, including the development partners involved in the design. It aims to fill in the critical data gap that exists for rangelands, which was highlighted in a recent report by UNEP called Rangelands: A Case of Benign Neglect.”

Once off the ground, it is anticipated that the data platform will attract contributions from other donors to expand the platform and strengthen linkages with national and local data collection processes.

With the anticipated approval of the Government of Mongolia’s request to the UN for a designated International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists in 2026 and the launch of the UN Decade of  Ecosystem Restoration next  year, exciting times lie ahead for rangelands that include opening up opportunities for funding and development projects that focus on their conservation and restoration.  Getting big data together and understood, putting monitoring systems in place and identifying restoration priorities is more urgent than ever.

As Paola Agostini, Lead Natural Resource Specialist, World Bank, states:

…we (the WB) are an evidence-based organisation but when it comes to rangelands some of the basic statistics are missing. When I am asked what should we invest in for sustainable rangeland management, I say three things:  Data, Data, Data!”

The data platform project is being led by ILRI, together with CGIAR centres International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF). Other global partners include the World Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), WWF and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  The digital platform is being built by private technology company, GMV.

For more information on rangelands or how you can contribute to the rangelands data platform, contact: Fiona Flintan, Senior Scientist, ILRI

Read more about the submission: Rangelands in the spotlight in CGIAR's Big Data Platform Inspire Challenge