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5 reasons why big data innovation is critical to address climate resilience

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In today’s world of mobile technology, social networks, pervasive satellite and sensor information and machine-to-machine transactions, data is becoming the lifeblood of many economies. Data-informed decision making is more important than ever before. However, the ability to use data in development and decision-making processes has not seen the same progress. Relying on data to inform decisions requires that the appropriate tools and analytical methodologies exist in order to use it effectively.

Through the Big Data Innovation Challenge, the World Bank is calling out to innovators globally for higher resolution, regional or sector-specific big data prototypes and solutions in support of watersheds, forests, food security and nutrition.

Here are five facts from our climate team about our water, forests and food security that remind us why your big data innovation is necessary.

• In less than ten years, nearly two-thirds of the world will be water-stressed and 2.4 billion people will face absolute water scarcity. By 2030, feeding the world will require 30 to 45% more water.

• One billion people do not have access to safe water today.

• Forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75% of the world’s accessible fresh water for domestic, agricultural, industrial, and ecological needs, and act as natural filters for our air. One-fifth of the global population depends on forests for employment, products, and contributions to their livelihoods. Agriculture drives 80% of global deforestation.

• Every day, 795 million people go hungry; over 165 million children under five are stunted due to chronic malnutrition. More than two billion people are deficient in key vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, over two billion people are overweight or obese; two-thirds of them live in developing countries.

• In low-income countries, 47 percent of the total population lives below the poverty line (US$1.90 per day); 27 percent are food energy deficient; 38 percent of children under five are stunted; and almost 5 percent of the total population is obese.

In the realm of climate resilience and development, we know that big data presents an incredible opportunity to better understand the impacts of climate change, address its connected issues and positively influence decisions.

In the face of these global challenges, we’re encouraging you to submit your prototype or solution for the Big Data Innovation Challenge by November 9 and to use #BigDataInnovate on social media to spread the word.


Haishan Fu

Chief Statistician of the World Bank and Director of the Development Data Group

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