Thursday, November 17, 2016

GODAN: One network to rule them all?

Thanks to its core role in addressing food security at global level, the agrifood sector is not short on networks and initiatives; actually, there are numerous networks with global, regional and national scope that aim to bring together various types of stakeholders and align their efforts in addressing common problems. I am happy to have been directly (or indirectly) involved and participated in several networks like CIARD, FAO AIMS and other FAO initiatives and teams, EFITA, GFARCGIAR (mostly ICARDA) and GODAN, to name a few, through common projects, contracts and events.

My impression has always been that despite the fact that these initiatives are doing a great work in different aspects (e.g. capacity building and training, education, research, information and knowledge management) there was only loose connection (if any) between them. I was glad to see that FAO AIMS and CIARD joined forces at some point, and that there was even a joint event between CIARD and GODAN (the CIARD/GODAN Consultation meeting) in order to see investigate the way in which two big networks could collaborate and function as one entity (I still feel grateful for my participation in that event).

But why am I making this introduction?

I was recently browsing the latest issue of the GODAN newsletter only to realize that it has already managed to encompass various networks and related activities and work on harmonizing their activities. Apart from the description of  the numerous GODAN activities, the newsletter contained articles on:
That looks like a fine selection of what is taking place now at global level in the agrifood sector, in terms of open data. Previous issues of the GODAN newsletter follow the same approach, providing the space and means for sharing all related news and events. At the same time, GODAN explores all available opportunities for collaboration, like attracting new members and ensuring its presence in related events (like the International Open Data Conference and the RDA Plenary meetings) and participating in joint projects with other key organizations. In this way, GODAN operates as the "umbrella" organization (or meta-network) that was so much needed in this ecosystem, coordinating existing efforts and making sure that everything is in place and working properly. So far, GODAN has managed to establish a strong member base of more than 400 partners all over the world, including government and governmental organizations, NGOs, SMEs and private sector - something that no other network has managed so far.

GODAN Summit 2016; another successful GODAN event
I am always looking forward to hearing more about GODAN and its updates and I couldn't be more optimistic about that. It has the potential, the resources and the vision to do great things for agriculture and nutrition and on top of that it is guided by a great team - the GODAN Secretariat (you know who you are!). It seems that GODAN is much more than an open data network; it is the missing piece of a puzzle - the missing spark plug of an engine that runs on open data. Now that more or less all initiatives are into open data, GODAN's role becomes even more important.

One ring to rule them all - one network to coordinate them (Image source: 
P.S. If you're working with open data in the agrifood sector than you have to register for the GODAN Newsletter and if your organization does the same, it should consider joining GODAN as a partner; after all, it's all about openness :-)