For over a decade, data advocates have reserved one day out of the year to celebrate open data. Now, more than ever, the world has turned to open data to support in addressing the complex and unprecedented challenges of our times. The ongoing global pandemic, systemic racism, sexual violence, climate change and global poverty, are but a few of the global issues that require openness and transparency, if we want to eradicate them as the most pressing social, economic and political problems of our day.
Open Data Day, which took place on March 6th this year, is an annual celebration of open data all over the world. At the Land Portal, we believe that open data and access to information is key in achieving good land governance and securing land rights. We also believe that Open Data Day is an opportunity to show the benefits of open data. With this in mind, we decided to ask our Board Member, freelance consultant and a Principal Consultant of Mokoro Ltd, Dr. Elizabeth Daley, a few questions on the matter.
1. How do you see open and transparent systems contributing to improved land governance?
Good land governance depends entirely on open data and transparent systems and processes. Most importantly to prevent different forms of discrimination in land rights from being hidden in plain sight.
2. Describe three reasons why open data is important to your work?
If we want to make improvements in women’s land rights, and encourage gender equity across the land sector, we need the data first to see the nature and extent of the current levels of gender discrimination in different places. Open data helps to shine a bright light into dark corners, so that discrimination and land rights abuses cannot be hidden away or covered up. In addition, the process of sharing and publicising data on land helps to empower those current power-holders in land institutions who are open to reform but need solid evidence on which to base their policy and regulatory decisions. In my experience there are many among local elites whose main objection to improving women’s land rights is simply that they do not see why insecurity of tenure might be a problem and why it would help the whole community to address it. So, facilitating and providing open data is a critical first step in public information, awareness-raising and gender sensitisation work.
3. Can you describe the role of the Land Portal in making land data more open and transparent?
The Land Portal is the go-to online platform for accessing significant sources of open land data globally. Of course, all the data is not yet in one place, and there is much work still to be done to improve data transparency – and gender disaggregation – in the land sector. But the Land Portal team are working hard to constantly update and expand the available data sources and to make them increasingly user-friendly, even for non-specialists. Land Portal is a voice for openness and transparency and fills a key role in the global land sector that otherwise would go unfilled. The way that this is done while also clearly highlighting key issues around gender and women’s land rights, the environment, Indigenous Peoples, urban land, and so on, adds tremendous value to the platform. It has become my first reference point for secondary data and information to support my work.