One of the questions asked at the Third Global Session of the UN Science-Policy-Business Forum held during the UN Environment Assembly included: “How do we get to a more sustainable and inclusive future if we don’t know where we are?” This is where big data comes in and right now, it is clear that we do not have the data we need to answer these questions. How can we use big data to fight climate change?

What is Happening?

Andersen said, “Big data and new tech can support real-time monitoring of the environment, help consumers adopt more sustainable behaviour, and create sustainable value chains. The UN Secretary-General has made it very clear that digital transformation has to be part and parcel of the UN … we have oceans of data but drops of information.”

Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, said earth observation systems and early warning services were still poor in parts of the world, with around USD$400 million needed to improve these. He added, “That is one of the ways to adapt to climate change – to invest in early warning services and observation systems. We have to monitor what is happening to the climate but this monitoring is in poor shape.”  

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What is the UNEP Doing to Bridge the Digital Divide?

  1. Help producers measure and disclose the environmental and climate performance of their products and supply chains;
  2. Help investors assess climate and environmental risks and align global capital flows to climate goals;
  3. Enable regulators to monitor real-time progress and risks;
  4. Integrate this data into the digital economy to shape incentives, feedback loops and behaviours