Transcript of "Rehabilitation of CGIAR Global Public Goods: Information"
Global Public Goods:
From Data and Information to
Table of Content
1. Executive Summary...................................................................................................3
1.1 Background and Context to this Program............................................................4
1.2 Background - The CGIAR ICT-KM Program and the 2004 and 2006
1.3 Global Public Goods – current state of play, weaknesses and opportunities.......5
2. Objectives and Components.......................................................................................7
3. Strategy Components.................................................................................................8
3.1 Identification of Priority Users and Needs ..........................................................8
3.1.1 Background ......................................................................................................8
3.1.3 Activities ..........................................................................................................9
3.1.4 Outputs and Outcomes......................................................................................9
3.2 Integrated Access to Global Public Goods ........................................................10
3.2.4 Outputs and Outcomes ...................................................................................16
3.3 Networking and Capacity Building....................................................................16
3.3.4 Outputs and Outcomes....................................................................................20
3.4 Value-Added Products and Services Development...........................................20
3.4.4 Outputs and Outcomes ...................................................................................25
1. Executive Summary
A CGIAR vision for sharing global public goods and knowledge
We see the CGIAR managing and sustaining the critical information systems it holds as
Global Public Goods (GPGs), through integrated and collaborative approaches among CGIAR
Centers and national, regional and international partners. We envisage a collaborative
approach to maximizing the value and use of these GPGs, all in support of more effective
action towards solving problems related to agricultural development, reducing poverty and
A strategy for improving the quality and relevance of and access to CGIAR global
Access to accurate and timely information is essential in the global effort to fight hunger and
poverty in the developing world. To support these efforts, the Future Harvest Centers have
gathered a large amount of data, information and knowledge. Although much of this
information exists as public goods held in trust by the CGIAR Centers, it is not well known –
largely because it is not organized in a common way. The number and type of databases
generated by the various scientific communities has expanded rapidly, but CGIAR partners
and global research communities face difficulties accessing these resources.
Such information and knowledge is referred to as Global Public Goods (GPGs). They extend
from databases and raw scientific information coming out of research carried out by the
CGIAR in collaboration with its partners, to spatial and graphic information, published
research, gray literature and technical reports, and other information, tools and knowledge
The strategy described in this document lays out an approach and concept for the CGIAR to
provide its ‘information customers’ worldwide with simple but enhanced access to the vast
array of scientific data, information and knowledge (generated by its research centers
working with their national research partners) in an easy, searchable and flexible way.
The strategy will be put into action through specific activities and projects within five
• A preparatory, intensive study of the needs of priority users
• Integrated access to these global public goods
• Networking and capacity building to ensure the best possible linkages between
CGIAR, NARS and other partners for public goods generation and sharing
• Value–added information products and services
• Program management, coordination, monitoring and evaluation
Through this strategy, the CGIAR Centers commit themselves to working together and with
their partners to standardize their information sources further, provide online access to their
metadata sources, support the establishment of a CGIAR information gateway that provides
universal access to the CGIAR’s Global Public Goods, and work with partners to expand the
body and utility of GPGs.
Following approval in principle to this strategy by the Alliance Executive, the specific activities
and projects needed to bring the strategy to life will be developed through a collaborative
process between CGIAR Centers and key external partners. The combined strategy and
implementation plan will then be recommended to the Alliance Executive for a resource
1.1 Background and Context to this Program
This ICT-KM GPG strategy has evolved from a CGIAR and World Bank cooperation involving a
program of Rehabilitation of Global Public Goods (GPG1) - a $19 million investment to
organize the CGIAR genebanks and information systems to make them more accessible. ICT-
KM 2 also builds on the work of the ICT-KM 2004 and 2006 Investment Plans.
Building on the progress of this GPG1 effort, a second investment was planned in early 2004,
involving two complementary activities:
• “Upgrading the CGIAR Genetic Resources System: A New Paradigm for the
Rehabilitation of Global Public Goods”, focusing on genetic resources rehabilitation.
• “CGIAR Global Public Goods: A New Scientific Information Management Paradigm”,
focusing on the improvement of access to and integration of the CGIAR’s
information-based global public goods on agricultural science.
The latter activity covers plants, forests, food policy and households, national agricultural
research systems, livestock, water, climate, fish and aquatic resource systems. Because of
the strong information and knowledge management aspects, the ICT-KM Program was asked
by the CGIAR Center Directors’ Committee to coordinate this information activity.
A two-phase consultative process set the foundation for the development of the strategy
described in this document. Phase 1, managed by Enrica Porcari, CGIAR CIO, brought
together researchers from nine CGIAR Centers and several System-wide CGIAR programs.
This “bringing together” produced the “CGIAR Global Public Goods: A New Scientific
Information Management Paradigm” concept paper (identified in the above paragraph),
which was discussed by the Alliance Executive in May 2004. Center Directors General
supported the proposed directions of the concept paper but asked that it be fleshed out
further with broader inputs from both within and beyond the CGIAR.
Phase Two was a detailed and intense, two-week, facilitated, online consultation organized
by the ICT-KM Program in March 2005. Some 200 people participated, representing a
spectrum of CGIAR research disciplines, CGIAR management, and information management,
ICT, database and marketing experts. External players included representatives from NARS,
universities and information and knowledge management specialists.
The main purpose of the online consultation was to obtain validation of the objectives and
plans contained in the draft concept paper prepared in Phase 1. The results of this online
interaction have enriched this strategy development process with a wealth of different
perspectives, examples and suggestions on how the CGIAR can maximize the value of its
global public goods. Consequently, the strategy presented in this document is one that has
been significantly enhanced and refocused. The changes were based on the best way to
• The integration of information-related global public goods across the CGIAR
• The provision of unified access to them
• Capacity building and knowledge sharing approaches that will help bring the CGIAR
NARS and other partners into a common world of global public goods
• Approaches or opportunities for the creation of value-added information
The development of the ICT-KM GPG strategy occurred during the implementation of the
Program’s first Investment Plan. Further elaboration of the strategy, and action on it, has
been on hold pending completion of the projects supported by that investment plan and
some additional consolidation activities (see next section).
1.2 Background - The CGIAR ICT-KM Program and the 2004 and 2006
The ICT-KM Program is a catalyst to support the CGIAR’s vision of realignment, moving
toward a one-system approach.
The ICT-KM Program has a vision:
We see a CGIAR without boundaries, an internationally distributed, unified and open
knowledge “organization”. CGIAR staff, regardless of their location, will collaborate in
science, using high capacity computing and communication. The Global Public Goods that the
CGIAR manages will be safeguarded, developed and made accessible for use by all
Over the next five years, the ICT-KM Program will be a catalyst in helping the CGIAR:
• Transform the way it works, incorporating new ICT and KM practices to preserve,
produce, and improve access to the agricultural GPGs needed by the poor in
• Be a leading knowledge broker, bringing together all actors in an open, inclusive
community for the use and creation of Global Public Goods research for
In 2004, an Investment Plan was elaborated by the ICT-KM Program to respond to this
vision. The Plan strengthened communications infrastructure across the CGIAR System,
improved tools for using data and information, nurtured scientific communities of practice,
provided platforms for collaborative action and information sharing, initiated steps for
integrating information systems, and improved the knowledge sharing culture throughout the
In 2006 a second Investment Plan, “Consolidating Gains, Planning for the Future”, was
developed, with projects implementation commencing in 2007. As the title implies, this Plan
is doing two principal things: (1) consolidating and extending the work begun in the first
Investment Plan on the CGIAR’s first intranet/extranet (CGXchange, and, more specifically,
the CGVLibrary that gives integrated access to the vast majority of CGIAR Centres’
bibliographic databases) and the Knowledge Sharing work, at the institutional and research
project levels; and (2) the refinement of the ICT-KM GPG strategy and the development of an
Investment Plan to address its objectives.
Detailed information on these two Investment Plans and the projects they support can be
found on the Program’s website (ictkm.cigar.org).
The strategy proposed in this document is building directly towards this vision and on the
work to date of the ICT-KM Program. More specifically, it is building on the “Content for
Development” projects’ integrated, information management work, which is improving access
to textual and bibliographic information through the CGIAR’s new CGXchange portal.
This strategy, Global Public Goods: From Data and Information to Food, is now
moving the focus to opening access to CGIAR research and knowledge. Some preliminary
technical capacity building in this area has already begun, with support from the 2004 and
2006 Investment Plans.
1.3 Global Public Goods – current state of play, weaknesses and
As summarized from the various discussions and consultations during 2005, Global Public
Goods are defined as data, information, and value-added information and services based on
data and information that are:
• Searchable and located in repositories (electronic)
• Globally available
• Open and easily accessible to all
• Demonstrably sustainable
• Contributing substantially to the CGIAR mission
GPGs traditionally share two other important characteristics: they are non-excludable and
non-rival. That is to say, everyone can enjoy the benefits, and one person’s use of a GPG
does not prevent another from enjoying the same benefits. The CGIAR has recognized that
access to GPGs is essential to support agricultural research and development.
In recent years, the number and type of databases generated by CGIAR scientific
communities in a variety of fields (forestry, livestock, fishery, crops, socio-economics, etc.)
has expanded rapidly. Nonetheless, development partners and global research communities
(including CGIAR staff themselves) have difficulties accessing these resources in a
• A lack of awareness of CGIAR GPGs: Potential users within and outside the CGIAR
are not familiar with many of the databases available. There is a need for a
concerted effort to promote awareness of available GPGs.
• The inability to cross-search CGIAR information “islands” at once: There is presently
no mechanism through which a user can search all the information resources held by
the CGIAR from a single point of entry. CGIAR Center scientists themselves have no
simple way of identifying commonalities between their work and that of their
colleagues in other Centers.
• Inadequacy of data standardization within and between scientific communities: There
is presently no commonly agreed set of standards for describing and searching
scientific data held in various communities. There are no commonly agreed metadata
standards that will allow the simplest cross-search across these information sources.
• The duplication of efforts: There is increased risk of duplication of efforts while
collecting, analyzing and processing scientific research data. It is becoming less and
less uncommon for scientists from the same institution to collect similar types of data
from the same locations without realizing the unnecessary duplication of effort.
• Some of the information resides on individual scientist’s computers and are not even
accessible by scientists within the same Center.
• The need to unify individual efforts and increase benefits from cross-sectoral
alliances: There is an increased need from individual communities to benefit from
scientific databases supported by others. Such cross-boundary alliances are now
critical for enriching individual GPGs (e.g. linkages between water management
databases and crop production GPGs, and common access to different poverty
mapping and land use databases).
• A return on investment from CGIAR scientific data resources that is well below its
expected potential: As different communities at different locations are collecting
similar datasets, there is a huge potential for integrating complementary datasets to
form new GPGs, which have greater temporal and spatial coverage.
As a concrete example, imagine a researcher or planner working for a national agricultural
research system. To retrieve information from the CGIAR about a particular crop, the
researcher needs to follow a tedious process to identify all relevant scientific databases and
expertise through individual CGIAR websites, manually retrieve individual pieces of
information and consolidate them. With the proliferation of potentially useful information, this
process becomes increasingly complex, with many valuable information sources remaining
undiscovered or not properly used. Publicly available search engines such as Google generate
such large lists of potentially relevant information that the user often is overloaded.
The discussions during the online consultation highlighted several issues concerning how best
to respond to the difficulties identified above. These were in addition to the obvious need to
initiate a systematic effort to allow, in effect, the collation of these various dispersed
information sources into a consolidated view, and the need for more effective and efficient
search facilities. These highlighted issues include:
• The need to know what GPGs actually exist at any one time;
• The importance of REALLY knowing who the priority users of these GPGs are (or
could be) and what their needs are;
• The need to recognize that the human element will always be present and necessary
(in addition to better access) to these resources in order to maximize their value and
use (to truly tap into “knowledge”);
• All too often, lip service is paid to partners. But only when partners ARE treated as
partners will full benefits be realized.
It also was apparent from the discussions that many CGIAR Centers are producing innovative
science-based information products and services that target decision makers, policymakers,
NGOs and farming communities. This suggests that there are grades of ‘derived’ public goods
that can be created by the CGIAR – at the multi-Center, or System level – to drive impact and
To summarize, there exists a strong need to:
• Know what data and information resources exist
• Know priority users and their needs
• Provide easy unified access to both scientific data and textual information
• Provide the option of searching in an integrated fashion, where appropriate, different
data and information types
• Ensure that data and information managed by partners and CGIAR Centers are more
• Develop services that add value to the basic data and information
The strategy outlined here presents a path to address these needs.
2. Objectives and Components
The overall objective of the strategy is to make it easier for CGIAR staff, partners and
potential partners to access, use and add value through collaboration to the research and
scientific outputs of the CGIAR – and so to have a positive influence on the lives of the poor.
To respond to the need to provide more effective and efficient access to the data and
information that users most need, thus maximizing the value and use of GPGs, this strategy
envisages the development of a series of activities within five components:
These components are:
• Identification of Priority Users and Needs
• Integrated Access to Global Public Goods
• Networking and Capacity Building
• Provision of Value Added Information Products and Services
• Strategy Implementation Mechanism
These components are elaborated in the following sections.
3. Strategy Components
3.1 Identification of Priority Users and Needs
A recurring theme emerging from the on-line consultation was the need to better identify the
primary users of GPGs, both current and potential, and their priority uses. Too often,
activities are planned with only a cursory understanding of user needs. While we already
know a lot about the users and uses of the CGIAR GPGs (indeed, these were discussed in the
online consultation), further understanding is possible, especially with respect to potential
users and uses. Increasing our understanding in this area will allow refinement of both the
overall strategy and its constituent activities.
Market research and focus group consultations with representative key audiences and
boundary partners are required for the implementation of the strategy. This research will
produce a clarification and confirmation of our boundary partners with whom we have the
best opportunity of creating positive change in poverty reduction and rural development. It
will also give a clear picture of the types of information products and services that users
require the most, and how the CGIAR can add value through its research.
The online consultation highlighted those activities carried out in this area that can inform a
CGIAR audience analysis. There is an opportunity to build on studies done over the last few
years by specific CGIAR units and on the extensive consultations with NARS done by the
Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR), with a number of regional organizations.1
User needs – examples from ILRI and IWMI
ILRI’s practice of consulting with local communities in developing some information strategies
gives other clues to audiences and needs. This has given a clear picture of the best method
to deliver information in an appropriate form – e.g. to national policy makers and rural
communities. Public goods based on these approaches help partners make more robust
decisions, because they are involved in the GPG development process.
Similarly, a rapid scan by IWMI of NARS in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Ethiopia – in
preparation for the development of the GPG2 draft proposal – has highlighted a more basic
need. The NARS lacked an adequate level of support in using and building on their
information systems to make optimal use of GPGs.
The objective of this component is to identify key customers for the CGIAR’s information
GPGs, and their key needs, from both a content and a usage perspective. This will tell the
CGIAR who its current and potential customers are, what types of information they require
and how they prefer and are able to access this information. A user study is planned that can
generate credible information in a timeframe of three to six months.
1 The Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutes (APAARI), Association of Agricultural
Research Institutes in Near East and North Africa (AARINENA), Central Asia and Caucasus Association of
Agricultural Research Institutions (CACAARI), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and Foro
Regional de Investigación y Desarollo Tecnológico Agropecuario (FORAGRO) in its GLOBAL.RAIS
consultation. Several of this list’s members participated in the consultations. The proceedings of some
of these consultations are available from GFAR at http://www.egfar.org/.
The results of this component will be used to refine the process of identifying the key
activities that will be pursued in the other components. Consideration will be given to
implementing a light, periodic revisiting of users’ needs to ensure that the strategy continues
to respond to priority areas.
A user identification and needs assessment study should be carried out promptly. This study
should be led by a partnership comprising one Center and one partner organization and
should build on the results of the GFAR user study and any other recent user studies carried
out by relevant CGIAR partners. Its purpose will be to identify the primary users of CGIAR
GPGs, potential key users, the most critical information needs of these respective users
(primary and potential), how these users would best like to obtain the information most
needed, and the most pressing capacity-development needs of these users. It should also
identify potentially key data and information sources that should be part of agricultural
The study will be carried out using a combination of online surveys, focus groups and one-to-
one communications. It should be completed within three to six months of approval of this
strategy. The study will look both outside the CGIAR as well as inside. For instance, within
the CGIAR, the breeders know user needs because they receive the germplasm requests. The
IT people know who is downloading what from the Center web pages. The librarians know
what content is requested from the Center libraries. The publications offices know what
Center publications are requested. In addition, we need to build on the Centers' experience in
participatory research and monitoring and evaluation. An analysis of relevant CGIAR Web
traffic will also help us understand better who is using our Web information and how we can
3.1.4 Outputs and Outcomes
The goal of this set of activities is to produce the following outputs:
• A prioritized list of key (current and potential) customers for CGIAR global public
goods both within and beyond the CGIAR Centers.
• Input and ideas on the types of information products and services most needed and
the types of problems they can help solve.
• Detailed descriptions on how users need to access information (‘use cases’), which
can be used as input in the creation of appropriate interfaces, database structures
and presentations of information.
• An assessment of capacity development needs of key partners for expanding the
scale and use of GPGs.
• A better understanding of the horizontal commonalities and thematic associations
between the diverse Center- and sector-based information GPGs.
• Strategy for keeping abreast of changes in priority users and needs.
GFAR user study
The findings of the recent GFAR “user needs” consultation hint at the kind of CGIAR public
goods that can help NARS improve agricultural and rural development. There is a need to:
• Strengthen the capacity of NARS leaders to advocate and articulate appropriate
policies and strategies, and attract more resources and greater investment for further
development of ICT-enabled National Agricultural Information Systems.
• Develop capacity to enable professionals to create, manage and share information to
drive agricultural innovation and development. This includes scientific, technology-
related information (for research and research management and for extension
outreach) and market information.
• Increase the integration of national and regional agricultural information systems and
provide easier access to them (especially websites) to create an information
management and knowledge-sharing network.
• Establish appropriate governance structures for global, regional and sub-regional
structures of GFAR, AARINENA, APAARI, CACAARI, FARA, ASARECA, CORAF, SADC
• Promote and support more equitable access, sharing and exchange of agricultural
3.2 Integrated Access to Global Public Goods
Recent years have seen an explosion in the amount of scientific data and information
available. Many of these information resources are Global Public Goods that represent a large
investment and a major outcome from work across the CGIAR system. However it is not
always easy to discover that these Global Public Goods exist or to find out where they are
available. Information may be stored in a variety of different computer-based systems at
different centers and in different formats. Because of lack of standardization and an absence
of common finding tools, it can be difficult and time-consuming to locate specific information
in order to support new research or new conclusions based on previous research. Due to the
specific and often complex nature of a specific resource, knowledge about how to use these
resources is sometimes required. These difficulties also represent a significant barrier to
combining information from different sectors to support cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary
activities that draw on diverse and disparate research results.
On the other hand, there are commonalties and potential synergies between many of these
public goods that are not currently exploited. For example, relationships between data sets
on different commodities or sectors plus relevant social and economic information represent
an opportunity to address complex questions relating to agricultural development, natural
resource management and poverty alleviation. These synergies may be represented by
thematically-related potential interactions or common data elements in different data sources
such as shared spatial or temporal elements. For example, natural resource management
issues, which are a recognized priority among scientists with the CGIAR, require multi-
disciplinary approaches and integrated analyses that involve the integration of multi-sectoral
data. While a substantial and wide diversity of information exists among the various Centers,
the implementation of holistic approaches and solutions is hampered by the lack of an
integrated data infrastructure.
There is also a need to ensure that all stakeholders in the development process understand
the value of agricultural research. As one discussion participant pointed out, there is a
tendency for men and women in the street, particularly in the developed world, to question
whether the "people in the white coats" are doing anything worthwhile for them. The general
public needs to understand what the research community is doing and they need to see
tangible results of the research that they are supporting. There is also tremendous potential
to apply those research results in concrete ways, if broader audiences in the developing
world (including farmers, extension workers and policy makers) have better access to these
Integrated and unified access to CGIAR public goods will alleviate many of these problems
and allow the exploitation of potential synergies, improving the quality of research and of
development planning. It will give researchers and members of the development community
rapid access to a range of complementary data that existed, but was not previously available
due to a lack of integration. The on-line consultation confirmed that there is a need to make
that data and information more readily accessible and easier to use both for CGIAR
researchers and a broader community including NARS researchers and other actors in the
agricultural and development communities.
"At present an enormous amount of information is stored in various systems. Pertinent
information is stored in varying systems, in various media, employing various technologies.
Unfortunately there remain significant amounts of information inaccessible to many
partners and to those who need the information the most. Furthermore, tremendous
amount of information will be generated in the future and the availability of this information
to various partners at the right time and in right format is crucial. The challenge here is to
share the existing information, utilizing the existing resources to share information, and
making new information available to other partners." - Rajesh Sood
The value proposition
"All agricultural research from the CG and from other bodies... could be of tremendous
value if it was made more generally available and more accessible to people who are not
experts or scientists in the agricultural area." - Interview with Dr. Robert Day
"Where users can actually navigate from content to content regardless of which of the
centers is the source of that content and who authored it, the value of your content as a
whole can really grow, almost exponentially. Information architecture can help to create
those links and paths, regardless of which center the content comes from. That might be
the most critical way in which information architecture can be of benefit to the CGIAR" –
Providing integrated, unified access to these Global Public Goods requires the creation of an
information gateway that will provide a starting point for users seeking to find the scientific
and research data and information that corresponds to their particular needs. Within the
framework of an information gateway, a variety of different services can be presented to help
users achieve their particular goals—for example, to discover what GPGs are available, to
search across those GPGs to satisfy simple information needs, and to navigate to more
specific and sophisticated services for more detailed information and specific kinds of
resources. The information gateway provides a platform for users with a broad range of
different needs to use these different facilities to explore a large and diverse scientific
information space. It will allow users to highlight commonalties between different resources
that can be exploited to create new knowledge and to make contact with experts in order to
draw on knowledge acquired and developed within a particular community.
Expert input to the on-line consultation in designing this strategy has helped focus thinking
on how we can best provide integrated and unified access to our public goods. In the original
proposal, the need was expressed for a simple search mechanism to search across a range of
GPGs. In the on-line discussion, the need for this kind of service was confirmed, but that
need was qualified. A simple, cross-domain search was characterized in the discussion as
"broad and shallow", appropriate for someone starting to research a topic, looking for an
identification of areas that might be fruitful for further exploration or needing only basic
information on a particular area. However it was unlikely by itself to meet the diverse needs
of the wide range of potential users of such a GPG Gateway service. In particular,
researchers with specific interests or specific goals in mind will need richer, more specialized
services. These "vertical and deep" services may concentrate on restricted subsets of
information, may exploit a richer metadata set and may be based on search protocols and
interfaces specific to those particular resources or sectors. The results from Activity 1 –
Identification of Priority Users and Their Needs will be used to refine priorities in terms of
these specialized services, to ensure that only the most important and useful among them
will be implemented within the GPG Gateway to satisfy these more specific and sophisticated
"In this day and age, practically all scientists and policy makers are engaged in integration
of information as their primary task. Integrated access means:
1. The capacity to discover all information sources and services (e.g. tools) pertinent to the
research question or decision at hand
2. The availability of suitable means (protocols, interfaces, tools) to retrieve relevant
information from all identified information sources
3. The existence of suitable semantic links between information units that permit
integration of the information into a seamless whole, for interpretation and assertion of
- Richard Bruskiewich
The GPG gateway will not be developed in isolation. It will draw on lessons learned in similar
activities in specific areas, such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. It will build on
standards and approaches in the general scientific community (e.g. for Open Access),
distributed services being implemented in the CGXchangePortal created under the ICT-KM
2004 and 2006 Investment Plans and work being undertaken by sector-specific standards and
implementation groups. It will include and be included in other differently targeted services
and facilities: for example, the resource discovery and search services of the GPG gateway
can be included as an element in the WAICENT portal of the FAO. By using common
standards, protocols and approaches the descriptions of GPGs should be able to be
harvested, exposed and used in other gateways and portals, further encouraging the use of
those GPGs by diverse communities. This CGIAR GPG gateway does not replace or undermine
other platforms and gateways, but complements and builds on them in order to make it
dramatically easier for any user to locate the information they require.
Most importantly, in order for CGIAR science to be universally accessible, each Center has a
responsibility to support the sharing of data, to undertake curatorial tasks necessary to
ensure that data produced is preserved and made available and to operate nodes that will
feed the central GPG Gateway. Encouraging a culture of sharing and promoting an attitude of
stewardship across the CG System has already begun with the ICT-KM Program’s Investment
Plans , and this will continue as a primarily focus of Activity 3 of this strategy – Networking
and Capacity Building. The Integrated Access activity, however, will provide a concrete
opportunity for encouraging and developing this kind of community and the promotion and
sustainable support for these activities in all Centers.
Global Biodiversity Information Facility
"Significant added-value comes through the opportunity for all Global Public Goods (gene
and non-genebank) to be accessible in a unified and searchable way, through common
standards and platforms, and for new and relevant information products to be defined,
created and provided, in partnership with users throughout the world.
"GBIF [Global Biodiversity Information Facility] has been developing an architecture to
support free international exchange of biodiversity data...GBIF manages central services to
make these data more accessible. In particular there is a central public registry of web-
service-enabled data resources (using UDDI) which will allow users and tools to discover
and access the data, and a central data index which stores some of the core data fields
from all records within the network (taxon, locality, date) to support rapid searches. These
central services are the basis for GBIF’s prototype Data Portal (http://www.gbif.net/). GBIF
expects (and will encourage) other organizations to share the same infrastructure to
develop their portals and access mechanisms."
- Donald Hobern
"We will have to address several issues within the CG System, partners of the CG System
and users (not only the NARS) to make CGIAR GPGs available to them. This will include a
greater integration of information first within the IARCs, then across IARCs and finally with
other systems providing avenues for information and knowledge sharing and exchange." –
The objective of this component is to increase the value, usefulness and
accessibility of CGIAR GPGs through better integration and harmonization of data
resources between disciplines, sector- and commodity-based efforts, Centers,
other CGIAR initiatives, and external information resources. A CGIAR Global
Public Goods Gateway will be created to enable a wide community of users to
discover and exploit Global Public Goods and the data and information that they
Providing unified and integrated access to Global Public Goods requires two complementary
activities: the development and adoption of standards to promote information sharing and
interoperability; and the creation of services built on those standards that make it possible for
users to find the information that they need. Neither of these is a trivial undertaking. The
strategy presented here for Integrated Access to GPGs is an ambitious one, the full
realization of which could take considerable time and resources, and it is important to bear in
mind that it may not be possible to realize all of this vision in a single, limited project. In
pursuing this strategy and moving towards this goal, it will be necessary to establish priorities
based on what information GPGs and services will have the most impact and benefit, and
what is feasible and practical within the constraints of available resources. Refinement of
these priorities will be required, as concrete plans are developed to begin the implementation
of this long-term strategy and goal.
188.8.131.52 Establishment of a GPG Gateway
This activity will set up and implement a GPG Gateway to facilitate access to, and use of,
GPGs. Specifically, the activity will create an inventory or catalogue of GPGs and implement
the ability to use that catalogue to discover GPGs by browsing or searching resource
descriptions, or by searching for common data elements among GPGs. A simple cross-
resource search facility will allow a broad simple search, while links to the services of
individual GPGs or groups of GPGs will provide richer search services for more specialized and
detailed requests. In both cases, users will be able to access directly actual data stored in
individual Center nodes through links returned with descriptive metadata where the full data
is not returned by the search. Users will be able to customize and personalize the selection of
resources and personalize the service by saving preferences and storing searches. Links will
also be provided where appropriate to people-based services to assist users in applying or
interpreting complex data resources. Some of these different aspects of the GPG Gateway are
described in more detail below.
Global Public Goods inventory
An important preparatory stage, currently in progress, is the creation of a comprehensive
catalog of CGIAR Global Public Goods. This is an inventory of GPG collections and databases
held by Centers, Challenge Programs and System-wide initiatives. In addition to a general
description of the GPG content and a current assessment of their status, data elements of
each type of Global Public Goods will be described in a data dictionary to promote
identification of commonalties across different types of GPGs. Descriptions will also include
technical information about the individual services supported, where GPGs collections or
database support specific search and retrieval capabilities. These metadata descriptions will
use and extend standards for metadata and for description of services based on standards
employed by the FAO, the CGIAR and other communities.
Services will be put in place within the GPG Gateway to search and browse the Global Public
Goods inventory in order to discover collections of GPG resources that might be of particular
interest and to identify common data elements in different types of GPGs that might provide
opportunities for integrating different types of information. This service will also support
ongoing standardization work, by facilitating the identification of commonalties and
differences across the full range of GPGs.
A basic cross-resource search facility will also be provided, to allow users to search using a
few basic common access points across the entire range of GPGs, and to return specific data
sets related to their search topic. Depending on the priorities of different user communities,
more specific search services may be implemented, targeted at specific kinds of GPGs or
specific users needs.
The GPG Gateway will also provide a platform to promote knowledge networks established
under Activity 3 – Networking and Capacity Building described below. GPG users and
potential users who are not already familiar with a particular subject area or type of data will
find within the GPG Gateway links that will allow them to contact scientists knowledgeable
about the use of the GPGs. Users will be able to make contact with those networks of
scientists and to benefit from their experience and knowledge in the development and use of
those GPGs. In turn, from the contacts made with users of the Gateway, the scientists will
gain knowledge from those who are applying their research data about the uses to which the
GPGs are being put, creating a virtuous circle that will promote greater sharing and
potentially more focused research activity.
The human face of information systems
"We probably need hybrid information systems - ones in which information access (both
metadata, digital objects and learning objects) is tightly coupled with the possibility for
access to human beings (both synchronously and asynchronously)." - Jai Haravu
184.108.40.206 Standards development
Underlying all of the above activities implementing a GPG Gateway and concurrent with them
is the adoption or development of standards for metadata description, descriptive values, and
search protocols that enable unified and integrated access.
From comments during the on-line discussion, it appears unlikely that a single metadata
standard will accommodate all the needs related to very diverse data structures and a diverse
community of users. Instead, depending on the needs validated during the user needs
assessment activity and the work currently being undertaken in the ICT-KM Investment Plans
, a family of compatible standards or a set of implementation agreements will likely be
required. The work of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative serves as an example in this
regard, where a very basic core of metadata elements for the description of documents exists
at the heart of richer metadata sets used by specific communities. The principle underlying
the success of Dublin Core is the ability to transform automatically richer standard
descriptions to simpler formats to support cross-domain searching. The standards used in the
Integrated Access activity need to build on standards already undertaken for different sub-
communities with the CGIAR and partner organizations, including the work undertaken by the
FAO, individual communities of practice such as the genetic information community, and work
undertaken for the CGXchange Portal.
As well as standards describing metadata elements, there is a need for standards to
determine the codes, taxonomy terms, vocabularies, terminologies and ontologies to be used
to actually describe a particular information resource. It is important to build on work
undertaken by the FAO as well as sector-specific communities such as the genetic information
community. Given the diversity of needs expressed during the on-line consultation and the
existence of well-established vocabularies in certain fields, the ultimate goal would be to
establish semantic linkages between several different vocabularies and to create computer-
based services that will translate from one set of terms to another. These semantic links will
provide the ability to access in a consistent manner a wide variety of information public
goods, bridging the differences of terminology and specificity of description across different
communities. However, it is recognized that this goal is ambitious and represents a long-term
activity involving many stakeholders that may take many years of cumulative effort to
Finally, different protocols for supporting search and retrieval across disparate data sets will
need to be agreed on and implemented to support integrated and unified access. These may
involve harvesting data for indexing and maintenance at a central site, or in some cases,
protocols for distributed searching, depending on the needs expressed and the practicalities
of the data involved.
All of these standards—for metadata elements, for terminologies and for service protocols--
will need to be agreed upon by a range of different stakeholders to ensure compatibility with
other efforts and to promote widespread support and acceptance. Among these stakeholders
are subject experts, delegates from partner institutions such as the FAO and NARS
institutions and (most importantly) representatives from different sectors or communities
already working toward the establishment of sector-specific standards. Standardization is
especially important in integrating NARS public goods and NARS actors into a GPG Gateway,
since well-designed, stable and widely implemented standards encourage others to invest
independently in supporting and contributing to the same information framework. With
clearly defined, open and easily accessible standards, it is easy for others to contribute time
and effort to making their resources available through part of a global system.
It should be noted that as a result of this standardization work, not only will access be
dramatically easier through a gateway, but also direct access to data resources within CGIAR
Centers and partner institutions will be possible.
The challenge of standards
"The biggest challenge, obstacle and problem relating to integrated access is the task of
defining and agreeing to useful protocols, semantic and software standards, collaboratively,
and their systematic application to all potential GPG sources." - Richard Bruskiewich
220.127.116.11 Encouraging the Sharing of Global Public Goods
Much CGIAR work and investment goes into the production and analysis of GPGs for
publication in professional journals. Scientists make the effort to publish their most valuable
and useful data, so it is regrettable when journals restrict access behind copyrights and high
subscription costs that many developing-world partners cannot afford. The CGIAR GPG
Strategy will encourage publication in outlets that do not prohibit simultaneous free posting
of these GPGs by Centers on the internet. Many, but not all journals are becoming sensitized
to this issue and the CGIAR should favor those that are. The CGIAR Information Management
Professionals could provide advisory bulletins to Centers listing "GPG-friendly" journals. The
Communications units could be involved in encouraging scientists to publish in Open Access
journals. The Centers collectively could be an influential lobby, on partners' as well as their
own behalf, to persuade publishers to allow open access.
Arguably, the biggest challenge is to convince researchers to share and document their data.
Researchers do not like to see their data being used and interpreted out of context. And they
often do not want to share it, because they plan to carry out additional studies with their
data and/or plan to use them for further publications. When publishing, researchers clearly
put everything into context by describing their materials and methods. In addition, many
refereed journals nowadays require authors to provide their raw data when submitting
manuscripts. A sensitivity raising activity is required to get across to CG staff the fact that
their work is the property of their Centers, that it is a Global Public Good, and that they have
a responsibility to make it available freely and widely.
3.2.4 Outputs and Outcomes
The outputs of this activity include:
• A information gateway available on the Web where users from the CGIAR, NARS and
the wider agricultural and development communities can discover what GPGs are
• A browsable and searchable directory of all the GPGs available using a standard
metadata format for the description of those resources.
• Creation of overall, data element and service metadata descriptions for each GPG, to
be used as the basis for cross-domain as well an intra-domain searching across
multiple information sources
• A standard or family of standards in the areas of metadata, descriptive vocabularies
and protocol or service descriptions to support resource discovery, a simple cross-
domain search and more specific search services
• Links to allow users to go directly to those resources to use their particular features
and capabilities and rich specific data models and datasets.
• Ontology or terminology-based services to translate search terms used in one domain
with search terms used in another (including geospatial references) to facilitate
cross-domain searching where the analysis of needs indicates these are required
• Links to people-based networks and services to allow personal advice and assistance
to users that require these services and to aid in the integration of NARS and other
researchers within the information community (the exact nature of these to be
determined in Activity 3 Networking and Capacity Building)
The outcomes of this activity include:
• Enhanced opportunities for CGIAR Center researchers and their partners to benefit
from and contribute to a common GPG data resource
• Demonstrated transparency and accountability of the CGIAR research investment to
donors and other stakeholders
• Improved efficiency in CGIAR Center research operations through broader, more
effective data sharing and reduction in duplication of effort through better knowledge
of existing research data and results
• Strengthened capacity of CGIAR Center and NARS researchers by providing ready
access to GPG data resources
• Increased support for integrated approaches to natural resources management and
conservation issues through easier identification and use of complex data sets.
• Easier access to information for scientists, researchers and stakeholders in the
• Wider use of the Global Public Goods produced by the research of IARCS and partner
institutions, promoting greater returns on the investment of the CGIAR in agricultural
3.3 Networking and Capacity Building
There is a need to enhance/support/strengthen the creativity of scientists and to devise
effective ways for them to express and share what they know. This means a greater focus on
interactive/connecting tools for use BY people in addition to accessing tools FOR people. In
other words, there needs to be discovery places where people can find (and download)
things and also interactive spaces where people can communicate (and upload things).
A high-performance information system to satisfy the ICT-KM 2 concept of the CGIAR cannot
function without motivated people and collaborative partnerships between them at its
foundation. Such relationships have to be developed among people at various levels: within
the CGIAR, with national and international agricultural research and development institution
partners, and with professional and user communities. This activity will pay special attention
to building the human factor of Global Public Goods development.
“Survey after survey of “information use” and “use behavior” has shown that information
users depend less and less on formal information systems and more on professional peers
and mentors in order to reach decisions and take action in their day-to-day and critical work.”
- Jai Haravu
Compiling an inventory of relevant and useful CGIAR GPGs and designing and agreeing on
common approaches to information structures, ontology and metadata can only be achieved
through a collaborative process between CGIAR researchers, research program leaders, and
CGIAR partners. These partners include the NARS, NGOs, farmer organizations, other
development actors and other international agricultural Institutions such as the Food and
Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD),
the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR) and GFAR’s member organizations (both
regional and sub-regional: ROs and SROs). With agribusinesses emerging as important
intermediaries in the transfer of technologies to agricultural communities, their representative
inclusion in the consultative process for compiling the inventory is also important.
Networking and close relationship with the NARS and agricultural communities will take on
more importance when it comes to obtaining deeper and more relevant information with
which to complement CGIAR datasets, making these GPGs more adaptable and useful locally.
For example, the SINGER database will require more information beyond taxonomy and the
location of its collection to make its database more useful to professionals and agricultural
communities adapting the germplasm accessed through it for local use.
All efforts by the CGIAR to share and exchange information, knowledge and skills should
embed mechanisms for networking and building linkages and relationships with its partners.
These linkages should be at both the individual and the institutional levels. Some of these
linkages do exist at the IARCs but need to be strengthened and supported. The mechanisms
include (in addition to the more traditional forms such as advocacy, workshops, conferences,
seminars and training programs) creating joint directories and yellow pages of CGIAR and
partners’ expertise, establishing communities of practices around themes and sub-themes,
mentoring weak partners and being mentored by more knowledgeable partners.
Recognizing NARS partners as equal players in GPGs development is key to a sustainable,
collaborative relationship between the CGIAR and the professional and user communities of
CGIAR GPGs. Comments made during the on-line consultation indicate that some NARS feel
that the flow of information is largely top-down – from CGIAR Center-to-NARS, and that their
contributions are not given due recognition by the CGIAR. The call from these users is to
enable the NARS to “belong” with the CGIAR to a community for global agricultural research
and development. Achieving this feeling of belonging to ‘one community’ has to be a priority
and key performance indicator for this activity.
“Use of GPGs is a community-level process that incorporates technological, individual and
organizational components. It should operate via partnerships between community leaders
and local experts of that particular GPG. The use of GPGs is maximized when these experts
(who know something about the intricacies of that GPG), the local leaders and other local
partners (NGOs) work together on projects that are goal-oriented and taken up with limited
local resources. The local/national collaborators can be social scientists/extension workers,
community and economic development professionals, and policy makers.”
As indicated by the various GFAR and ROs reports, the NARS are very heterogeneous in their
capacities to use ICTs to access and use GPGs effectively. In several thematic areas in the
discussion, the lack of capacity in some NARS to access larger databases through the
Internet and even DVDs has been mentioned. There is a technological barrier between the
CGIAR and some NARS. While the CGIAR may not have resources to satisfy all the NARS’s
needs for technology to access the GPGs, there needs to be support to selected NARS to
have facilities to access the GPGs. Integrated access to CGIAR information resources can
assist improved access by the NARS if the nearly 200 research sub-centers of the 15 IARCs
and their offices spread around the world are enabled to provide access to CGIAR GPGs.
The CGIAR’s ability to build strong learning networks and capacity – enabling it to use GPGs
for researchers and development players, together with national agricultural research and
rural development institutions and international agencies such as UNESCO and the
Commonwealth of Learning (COL) – is a critical factor for the success of a Global Public
Goods program for the CGIAR. This is an area where several IARCs, such as IRRI, ICRAF and
ICRISAT, have initiatives that will need to be strengthened.
Through consultations with its regional members, GFAR has identified in some detail the
capacity development needs for information and communications management of the NARS.
Regional and sub-regional organizations of GFAR, FAO and several other donor and
development organizations are involved in capacity development. The CGIAR can partner in
these activities and help build a capacity development network for the NARS and the user
Component 3.2 provides easier access to our public goods science. This networking and
capacity building activity adds value by bringing communities together to identify synergies
that will create partnerships in the area of information and informatics, across professional
communities, research sectors and themes.
To build the "human factor" into GPG development requires, among other things, that we
promote the sharing of tacit knowledge among peers. This cannot be achieved just by
training partners in the use of our GPGs, building electronic directories, and creating common
information standards in a GPG system. To enable the sharing of tacit knowledge and the
creation of knowledge networks, we must engage in activities that build trust among
stakeholders. We can contribute to this goal by having a KS component in our research
projects: promoting techniques like facilitation and participatory decision making, peer
assists, after-action reviews, innovative face-to-face meetings, knowledge fairs, efficient use
of on-line communities, and mentoring. All of these methods can help us improve our
collaboration and win the trust of our partners, thus contributing to a more interactive
process for developing and using GPGs.
The objective of this activity is to build and strengthen systems that are centered
around connecting people and their knowledge, in addition to data and
information, through partnerships and networks, both within the CGIAR and with
our national, regional and global science and development partners. These
connections will increase the quality, breadth, relevance and usefulness of the
CGIAR’s and our partners’ Global Public Goods.
This activity targets the creation and linking of communities of practice and other
information and knowledge sharing mechanisms, with the goal of creating a
community of communities working together for global agricultural research and
development. It also includes capacity building with national partners, and aims
to achieve a strong sense of ownership and an increased commitment, with all
partners, to share and exchange information and knowledge as an integral part of
the way the CGIAR carries out its research.
Projects/activities to be implemented under this component will be developed in two priority
• Networking to promote horizontal integration (cross-Center, cross-CoP and CGIAR-
wide) and to enhance links with NARS and other relevant science networks, and thus
enhance the use and value of GPGs
• Capacity Building for CGIAR researchers and NARS, for on-going and sustainable
Both parts of this activity are opportunities for ‘360 degree learning’. All projects will include a
strong learning component, as well as feedback mechanisms – between COPs, between
Centers and between NARS and the CGIAR – to benefit the continual development of GPGs to
meet user needs.
Promoting integration across Centers and CoPs, with NARs and the broader
The CGIAR System as a whole, with its wide breadth of long-term experience and knowledge,
and its local presence in more than two hundred offices and project sites across Africa, Latin
America and Asia, is uniquely placed to develop integrated methodologies and holistic
approaches to solving problems related to Agricultural Systems and Integrated Natural
Resources Management. The CGIAR System is also home to a wealth of Communities of
Practice (CoPs) that address various aspects and dimensions across disciplines, commodities
and IARCs related to integrated natural resource management and crop improvement. These
CoPs and the system as a whole can benefit significantly from greater integration, from an
information perspective, with NARS partners and the broader scientific community.
Projects will promote integration by:
• Establishing a cross-community network of specialists to promote awareness and
cooperation, leading to improved horizontal integration of CGIAR information
resources and efforts
• Conducting focused workshops and other fora to promote cross-Center, CGIAR-wide
collaboration for the maintenance, sharing, and integrated analysis of information
• Developing and implementing pilot projects, or case studies, that promote the useful
integration of diverse efforts and allow for a holistic, or Integrated Natural Resources
Management (INRM), approach to GPGs, which will address current research
questions requiring information from multiple resources.
• Fostering a role for the CGIAR as an important player in agricultural research
networks through more active marketing of our GPGs.
• Introducing KS approaches into research projects involving donors and partners in
order to build trust among stakeholders and to promote greater knowledge sharing
• Obtaining feedback on the GPGs and their use through these networks in order to
improve them and adapt them to different user groups.
Capacity-building to promote sustainable public goods
CGIAR Centers will need to build the capacity of some researchers to take responsibility for
implementing standards and metadata approaches in cooperation with other Centers and
partners. The capacity of NARS partners will be enhanced by working with the CGIAR to
create and implement these common information standards approaches and metadata
activities. The CG must recognize NARS GPG inputs and support, and partner with the NARS
in generating GPGs. By doing so this will promote lasting cooperation between the NARS and
CGIAR partners. Projects needed in this area will:
• Build frameworks and implement services that promote the sharing and exchanging
of global public goods within and across NARS and with the CGIAR System, as well as
with the international science community.
• Build the capacity of some NARS researchers to take responsibility for implementing
standards and metadata approaches in cooperation with other Centers and partners.
• Build the connectivity capacity of some strategic NARS for enhancing access and use
• Develop codes of conduct for data sharing, IP and security with collaborators;
3.3.4 Outputs and Outcomes
• A directory and network of experts, including information specialists and thematically-
oriented users, established to provide and promote analysis and coordination of
• Institutional capacity developed for holistic, integrated approaches to complex,
natural resources management and conservation issues;
• Partnerships within the CGIAR System that demonstrate the viability, effectiveness
and sustainability of this approach;
• Important examples of the power of integrated information resources used to
demonstrate the value of integrated access to, and query of, information GPGs;
• Intellectual Property management tools that support data sharing and data
integration are available and used;
• Demonstrated and documented transparency and accountability of the CGIAR
research investment to donors and other stakeholders;
• Improved efficiency in CGIAR Center research operations through effective data
• GPGs increasingly serve the information needs of developing countries;
• Greater participation by NARS and ARIs in building GPG databases;
• Broader GPG content, which is also of wider relevance;
• GPGs embedded into national research and development programs;
• Increased awareness of and collaboration between GPGs and other key databases,
leading to increased synergies;
• Increased capacity of NARS and user communities to share, exchange and use GPGs
• Increased number of collaborators with and contributors to each GPG;
• Increased use of GPGs.
3.4 Value-Added Products and Services Development
In preparing this strategy, an important new perspective emerged from the consultations: the
potential for the creation of new kinds of information products and services that add value to
the existing public goods.
Participants in the consultation proposed a wealth of ideas and examples for new products
and services that the CGIAR can offer. These range from techniques which allow communities
to test and evaluate public goods proposed by national authorities, and which also help them
to propose their local goods for feeding into the national system; to different types of
‘derived’ or summary publications, and specialized databases offering higher-level information
to non-scientific users. Such value-added products and services can take many different
forms – briefings, summary and synthesis material, implementation and extension material,
case studies and best practices for farmers and NGOs, and material for policy makers. They
may be searchable electronic information, publications, audio-visual, course material, etc.
Toward a CGIAR System-level science synthesis and recommendations
The ‘awareness’ part of CGIAR communication follows a System-wide agenda, driven by the
Marketing Group. However, there is currently no coordination at the System level. There is
also no agenda for a substantive level of communication or presentation of our science to
different user audiences.
The CGIAR Centers have a number of examples of these value-added products and services.
A coordinated effort – at the System level, across Centers from a geographic or thematic
perspective – can bring to life a new quality of information that will increase the use of the
One approach would be to move toward a number of the derived products or services that
represent the System’s interests and focus specifically on increasing the use of the ideas and
science of the CGIAR.
There are a number of examples of these kinds of services, both inside the CGIAR and with
other organizations. Some of the CGIAR examples include:
• ILRI’s poverty map and accompanying ‘popular science’ book, which explains the
issues and provides easy-to-understand concepts that have been used and quoted by
donors and African government officials.
• IFPRI’s integrated 20/20 activities, consisting of reports, meetings and media
campaigns, have a high visibility on the international development policy agenda.
• IWMI’s Water Policy Briefing and targeted web pages on drought prevention and
early warning; water use and conservation approaches in Central Asia; and
smallholder water and land management solutions for South Asia, all propose
recommendations from research, and give solutions to improve livelihoods based on
the findings of peer-reviewed research.
• Healing Wounds, the CGIAR-wide compilation of examples of the CGIAR’s
contribution to rebuilding agricultural systems that were destroyed by conflict or
The HarvestPlus project (www.harvestplus.org) improves the micronutrient content of staple
crops for better nutrition in developing countries. We have a group of CGIAR scientists
working with geographic information to target HarvestPlus varieties in those places where
they can do the most good. We can improve our research capacity among the international
and national R&D community by building the type of system that the demo illustrates.
I have connected to and loaded data from a CIMMYT server and a CIAT server. I wanted to
look at areas where maize and beans are grown together and see what trial data exists for
these areas, in the hope of finding some potential sites for HarvestPlus varieties. The screen
shot shows southern Brazil. This can be done with an unlimited number of web map servers
(for example, 15 CGIAR web map servers).
A decade ago, we might have created the data ourselves, duplicating effort. More recently,
we would call up colleagues on the phone or send email trying to get copies of the data,
perhaps sent on CDs or tapes. In the future, our goal is to just connect to the Internet and
get working right away. We may have to actually download the data – but the principle is
that it’s all there and accessible. We are building this through ICT-KM1, with all the Centers
In order to get our maps to work together (and overlay perfectly), we need a STANDARD
coordinate system, standard data formats, and standard documentation formats. The demo
shows metadata using the Federal Geographic Data Committee standard in XML files.
Last week a problem came up where we needed something similar – but not spatial data. We
were looking for information on phosphorous content in soils and the soil taxonomy. If we
could build a data set that links phosphorous measurements with the soil taxonomy, we
might be able to estimate phosphorous in places where we only know the soil taxonomy. I
know that lots of the CGIAR crop trials data, which are held in crop-specific trial databases,
has the information I need. But I do not how to get it.
Quotes from Glen Hyman talking about the use of GIS in the HarvestPlus project.
The common element across these value-added services is that they build on the science and
CGIAR’s basic public goods. Some value-added products may be created for the purpose of
pointing to the science and increasing the use and relevance of our databases. Others will
synthesize key information or points for action for new audiences (educators, implementers,
decision makers) who will not connect with the core public goods and data.
The science, research and technology transfer information services programs of the European
Union offer other examples of these kind of scientific and technical global public goods –
created for the purpose of driving the creation of partnerships and the uptake and impact of
science (rather than general awareness). Thousands of scientific summaries, contacts,
references to technologies and methods available for licensing are available at the click of a
mouse through the Europa website. Services include: CORDIS, Innovation, Brite/Euram,
European Regional Cooperation, and INTAS – in cooperation with the NIS.
The following text is excerpts of a summary of statements by Bob Day, interim coordinator of
SAKKS, a forward-looking knowledge management initiative of USAID, now working with the
CGIAR. The Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (SAKSS) regional nodes will
work with national bodies responsible for the collection and storage of data, assist them in
their tasks, and attempt to integrate this data into regional planning and assessment tools.
In his presentation, he explains how his team uses various types of practical and visual
information and knowledge sharing practices to make data relevant to critical, non-expert
audiences. This connection opens a new dialogue and ‘feedback loop’ that drives innovation
and brings people who were at the fringes of a discussion to the fore.
Bob gives a series of lively examples of how knowledge management is more than building a
database or indexing data. For him, it’s all about creating environments to share and discuss.
Shared working environments combined with new types of practical information create
opportunities for knowledge to flow between new groups of people.
One example is ILRI’s Poverty Mapping project, where researchers created an attractive
generalist publication with interesting maps and visual information. This information attracted
the attention of policymakers that would not have otherwise accessed the data or read
He also expresses concern with the lack of systems and processes to manage and provide
access to information that lies beneath the published research. There is a rich layer of
information that people want and can benefit from sitting in filing cabinets, on personal hard
drives and technical reports and grey literature. How can we organize and provide access to
this wealth of information?
He discusses the need for an open, data sharing meta -layer, where people can feed their
data into systems so others can add insights.
The objective of this component is to increase the value and ultimate use of GPGs
through the coordinated, System-wide creation and provision of innovative, high-
impact value-added services.
Activities addressing this component will be refined and informed with inputs from the user
study proposed in Section 3.1. Coordinated activities designed for the creation of value-added
information products and services from CGIAR Centers and NARs partners could include:
• Centers’ research management, impact assessment and marketing people working
together to define information products that can improve the impact and uptake of
their research. A priority will be given to cross-sectoral, cross-regional activities that
are sustainable and bring together two or more CGIAR Centers and NARS partners.
• Creation of CGIAR System or theme-level information products and services designed
to inform and influence boundary partners to take action.
• Creation of information products and services that synthesize and combine
information from across thematic areas or regional priorities, involving several
Centers and national partners, e.g. through using GIS technologies.
• Joint CGIAR/NARS information products and services designed to provide information
to support the NARS rural development agenda.
• Innovative information activities or campaigns that encourage change in practices,
scaling up of technologies and ideas.
• Strengthening of information intermediaries to leverage and transform GPGs for other
audiences (such as extension workers [in the case of farmers] or journalists [in the
case of taxpayers and decisions makers in developed countries]
• Identification and sharing of lessons learned through analysis of selected value-added
products: the way they were created, the networks that were involved, their impact,
and the actions needed to promote and increase their use.
• There is a large number of software tools developed by the CG Centers which could
be made available to the NARS on-line and which could provide a very important
pathway to them to manage and analyze their data.
How do we prepare the knowledge we want to share in such a way that a Masai
tribeswoman would recognize it as something useful?
Then, how do we converge the literacy levels of the CGIAR or our scientific partners with that
of the Masai, so that we can communicate on topics of mutual interest?
As an example, here’s how the solar power sector helps bridge this technical-community gap.
It uses custom comic books with very few words. Alternatively, more than one hour of
multimedia can be stored on a solid state memory card/stick and presented to a village on a
small handheld device. - Jock Gill
A community-centered approach to GPG creation
Experiences from participatory research suggest that important and globally-relevant public
goods can be developed in people-centered processes such as local adaptive research, agro-
enterprise development, community-based management of natural resources, etc.
A range of practical, farmer-focused GPGs include methods for characterizing information
networks in communities and approaches for enhancing them. This involves the use of
knowledge-sharing techniques from R&D organizations; strengthening local organizations
using ICTs in community telecenters; and strengthening information intermediaries in rural
This practice is being used by many development agencies. The experience of CIAT's
InforCom Project suggests the agencies are quite keen to have international centers as
See http://www.caucasider.org www.alianzasdeaprendizaje.org
- Simone Staiger
Which GPGs are most useful? Ask communities what they need and what GPGs
they already have.
Some NGOs bridge the communication gap between technical staff using translators or
moderators, who come from the local community but also have an international perspective.
They consult with the community to find out what GPGs they want (and what the community
can offer to the world), and do the same with the international crowd. Then they make ends
This model was used in village telecenters in India, and is the same as the one that helped
save lives during the tsunami in Pondicherry. Fisher folk didn't have to learn how to use a
computer database. They said they wanted information about sea conditions and other things
such as government aid programs.
A moderator, supported by MS Swaminathan Foundation, was the intermediary for a system
set up to download NASA satellite data on wave conditions in the Bay of Bengal. The
recommendations were then written on a chalkboard outside the office and broadcasted via
bullhorns mounted on the beach each morning.
For more details on this work see
- Mark Winslow
Mixing GPGs with NARS data to solve a global health problem
ICARDA uses GPGs to target new varieties of grasspea for populations in need.
Lathyrism is a debilitating disease caused by eating habits related to the Lathyrus Sativus
grasspea variety. Eaten in small quantities, this hardy grasspea is safe, but if a person
subsists on it for an extended period, paralysis of the legs can occur.
ICARDA had announced to the world that it had solved lathyrism by developing non-toxic
grasspea varieties. This generated a wave of good feeling, but the varieties had not yet
reached the poor people who survive on grasspea during famines.
What could be done? Data on the distribution of grasspea was available from the ICARDA
genetic resources database. These were then supplemented by literary sources. Reports from
previous epidemics were analyzed and both information streams presented on a map.
ICARDA presented the map to FEWS-net, World Food Programme, and national agencies in
Ethiopia in order to brief these players of the problem of lathyrism in areas where famine and
grasspea cultivation overlapped. Of tremendous help was a data set from the Ethiopian
The detailed data was mapped for Ethiopia and Eritrea. Armed with this information the
World Food Programme is aware of the problem, and can target some of their food aid to
grasspea producing areas. - Dirk Enneking
3.4.4 Outputs and Outcomes
The following outputs and outcomes can be expected from this activity:
• Coordinated plan exists for maximizing the value and use of GPGs, thus further
unifying CGIAR Centers and partners
• GPGs are in effect transformed from data/information to food
• Connections between CGIAR science and research and the poor are better
understood and demonstrable
• Users get the data and information they need at the right time and in the right
4. Next Steps
An underlying goal of this strategy is to support the integration and change processes in the
CGIAR, to help it work more as one unified system. The strategy presented here is tackling
very complex issues and has the potential to be very extensive in scope, especially with its
intent to seriously include a broad variety of partners. Accordingly, authorization and funding
is being sought for carrying out the set of user studies and for the development of a full
program proposal, including a business plan with the most effective and efficient
management model elaborated to respond to the Program developed.