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Collaboration brings new insights on future human needs

As the world collaborates on the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, good data are critical to the world’s ability to set goals, generate plans and measure our collective progress. Yet, starting even with the simplest questions of where basic human needs are going, the world’s best data are highly fragmented, highly variable and challenging to navigate.

Those charged with planning for the world’s future must first understand future human need. Across both immediate aid programs and longer-term sustainable development solutions, the ability to close critical gaps rests in part on our collective ability to put high-quality metrics into the hands of the decision-makers.

There is no silver bullet that will close the intelligence gap, nor one dataset that can provide all the answers. Instead, access and collaboration across organizations are fundamental. The Demand Institute, along with a diverse set of partners, has created Project 8–an open data collaboration platform focused on sustainable development data and human needs perspectives. On one platform, users can contribute, find, visualize and discuss data with other researchers and practitioners around the world. Together, the community can increase the visibility and utility of existing data, identify data gaps and discuss new sources of information.

Data in the platform is focused first on food and agriculture in support of Sustainable Development Goal #2–Zero Hunger. Utilizing the platform’s ability to easily work with high-dimensional data allows for comparison across country, time and different commodities. From here we see that the OECD forecasts a significant rise in global coarse grain and fresh dairy consumption over the next decade. The organization anticipates that Asia will drive much of this growth, with China representing much of the increase in coarse grain consumption and India accounting for much of the fresh dairy consumption.

In addition to consumption, Project 8 provides data on other aspects of global food demand such as immediate aid programs. Globally, we see that in addition to donor countries, non-government institutions provide much aid as well. . This is particularly true for African regions, for which The World Food Programme is a very active donor. Project 8’s ability to parse information at multiple layers reveals the large variation in food aid received by different regions within Africa.

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