[open-development] Launching the Open Sustainability Working Group

Velichka Dimitrova velichka.dimitrova at okfn.org
Fri Nov 30 14:28:35 UTC 2012

*Dear all,*

We would like to announce the launching of the Open Sustainability Working
the Open Knowledge Foundation and invite you to join the Open
Sustainability Mailing


*Sustainability is one of the most important challenges of our time. We are
facing global environmental crises, such as climate change, resource
depletion, deforestation, overfishing, eutrophication, loss of
biodiversity, soil degradation, environmental pollution, etc. We need to
move towards a more sustainable and resilient society, that ensures the
well-being of current and future generations, that allows us to progress
while stewarding the finite resources and the ecosystems we depend on. *

*Data is needed to monitor the condition of the environment and to measure
how we are performing and progressing (or not) towards sustainability.
Transparency and feedback is key for good decision-making, for allowing
accountability and for tracking and tuning performance. This is true both
at an institutional level, such as working with national climate change
goals; at a company level, such as deciding the materials for building a
product; and at a personal level, deciding between chicken and salmon at
the supermarket. However, most of the environmental information is closed,
outdated, static, or/and in text documents that are not possible to process.


*For instance, unlike gross domestic product (GDP) and other publicly
available data, carbon dioxide emissions data is not published frequently
and in disaggregated form. While the current international climate
negotiations at Doha
<http://unfccc.int/meetings/doha_nov_2012/meeting/6815.php>discuss joint
global efforts for the reduction of greenhouse gas emission, climate data
is not freely and widely available. *

“Demand CO2 data!<http://blog.okfn.org/2012/09/21/demand-carbon-dioxide-data-says-hans-rosling-to-open-data-advocates-at-okfestival/>”
urged Hans Rosling at the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki last
September, encouraging a data-driven discussion of energy and resources.
“We can have climate change beyond our expectations, which we haven’t done
anything in time for” said Rosling in outlining the biggest challenges of
our time. Activists don’t even demand the data. Many countries, such as
Sweden, show up for climate negotiations without having done their CO2
emissions reporting for many months. Our countries should report on climate
data in order for us to see the big picture.

Sustainability data should be open and freely available so anyone is free
to use, reuse, and redistribute it. This data should be easy to access,
both usable for the public but also accessible in standard machine-readable
formats for enabling reuse and remix. And by sustainability data we do not
mean only CO2 information, but all data that is necessary for measuring the
state of, and changes in, the environment, and data which supports progress
towards sustainability.  This include a diversity of things like:
scientific climate data and temperature records, environmental impact
assessment of products and services, emissions and pollution information
from companies and governments, energy production data or ecosystem health

To move towards this goal, we are founding a new Working Group on Open
Sustainability, which seeks to:

   - advocate and promote the opening up of sustainability information and
   - collect sustainability information and maintain a knowledge base of
   - act as a support environment / hub for the development of
   community-driven projects
   - provide a neutral platform for working towards standards and
   harmonization of open sustainability data between different groups and

The Open Sustainability Working Group is open for anyone to join.  We hope
to form an interdisciplinary network from a range of backgrounds such as
academics, business people, civil servants, technologists, campaigners,
consultants and those from NGOs and international institutions.  Relevant
areas of expertise include sustainability, industrial ecology, climate and
environmental science, cleanweb development, ecological economics, social
science, sustainability, energy, open data and transparency.  Join the Open
Sustainability Working Group by signing up to the mailing
share your ideas and to contribute.

Creating a more sustainable society and mitigating climate change are some
of the very hardest challenges we face.  It will require us to collaborate,
to create new knowledge together and new ways of doing things. We need open
data about the state of the planet, we need transparency about emissions
and the impact of products and industries, we need feedback and we need
accountability. We want to leverage all the ideas, technologies and energy
we can to prevent catastrophic environmental change.

This initiative was started by the OKFestival Open Knowledge and
Sustainability and Green
including Jorge Zapico, Hannes Ebner (The Centre for Sustainable
Communications at KTH), James Smith (Cleanweb UK), Chris Adams (AMEE), Jack
Townsend (Southampton University) and Velichka Dimitrova (Open Knowledge
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