In November 2019 the Land Portal celebrates its 10th anniversary. We started off a decade ago as a small UN partnership project, working to get the highly dispersed information on land onto one easy to use platform. In the ten years that have passed since then, our mission and vision have matured. We have grown from being ‘simply’ a gateway to better access land data and information that is fragmented across the web, to a trusted knowledge broker that makes a difference by emphasizing data use and impact.
While we are still a small and dedicated team of professionals working from around the Globe, we now welcome over 50,000 visitors a month to our platform, hailing from 231 countries. The ultimate outcome we are working for is an open and inclusive information ecosystem that connects all actors. This information helps to support informed decision and policy making and increases transparency and accountability on land governance issues. Our growing community of visitors and users are at the core of this information ecosystem.
Our newest strategy, now in effect, is a direct product our visitors feedback, emanating from a survey which took place last spring, as well as a recent evaluation report carried out by Wageningen University. Put simply, survey and evaluation respondents appreciated the Land Portal for being a strong communicator and connector in the land domain and for being a one stop shop for those looking for information related to land, especially when related to our country portfolios. Where they felt our work could improve, however, was going beyond the static data which we present, that often remains confined by national borders. Our users want data that they can interact with, that moves beyond the national level to include a wider variety of perspectives, and data that can help them to influence positive change. We have taken note of this and have woven it carefully throughout our new strategy:
INFORM serves to not only make data and information more accessible in the vast and scattered world wide web, but we also put extra emphasis on repackaging, visualizating, storytelling. The Land Portal tries to democratize the information landscape and open up the meaning of data and information to an audience beyond data scientists and analysts. To this end, we have started ‘storifying’ through innovative data stories, which serve to explain the meaning behind the data.
OPEN plays a critical role in making the data ecosystem more inclusive. It is a fact that people in the global South do not have equal opportunities to access land data and information, nor in achieving similar visibility when sharing knowledge. Our State of Land Information reports (SOLI) have the goal to uncover local information ecosystems. We work with local partners to scope the information landscape, as well as address the accessibility of the data and information. This is followed by targeted capacity building workshop,intended to strengthen the local data ecosystem, make local knowledge sharing practices stronger, reinforce local networks and make people aware of the body of knowledge they have in their countries and how to best use it.
DEBATE means we will promote, inform and enrich the global debate and practice on key land issues while raising the visibility of national, regional and international partners. The main challenge that we aim to overcome is that discussions around land governance exclude grassroots voices. Our response has been to create virtual meeting spaces where all voices can be heard. This includes media partnerships, webinars and online debates and impact stories.
Finally, perhaps the most significant project we have undertaken and which connects all three of our Pillars is the Land Portal’s soon to be launched GeoPortal. The GeoPortal will be accessible and usable, geared specifically to non-GIS experts. It provides an opportunity for all those interested in land related data, not just highly trained researchers, to interact with data in its spatial format. Data to be browsed and visualized will transcend national borders, moving beyond country boundaries and focusing on State or district level information. Our aim with this GeoPortal is to move away from siloed and top-down approaches to data and to democratize information.
I invite you to read our strategy and to get involved in helping us to build a vibrant and sustainable land information ecosystem. We will soon be launching a 10th anniversary campaign to fund this ambitious strategy.
The success that we have achieved these past ten years could not have been accomplished without the steadfast support of our donors, partners and supporters. I sincerely look forward to what the future has in store!
Land Portal Team Leader