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Effective climate action requires relevant and trusted data. Data trusts can help.

2 mins read

People worldwide are experiencing intensifying and accelerating climate events. Whether communities are grappling with heatwaves, water scarcity, floods, or other extreme weather, accurate and timely data is critical to address threats and to drive innovation that can improve preparedness, rapid response, and positive coping mechanisms.  

Yet, despite the potential benefits, frontline decision-makers – often sub-national governments in low-resource environments – struggle to access and use data effectively to inform their adaptation and response strategies. 

The imperative to develop reliable data economies is therefore increasingly evident. 

There is a clear market failure when, despite the urgent needs associated with climate change, climate-relevant datasets are not yet collected, are incomplete, or are not yet being used for climate action. Attempts to share data more effectively face a range of obstacles, from disparate policies and regulations to outdated technology to high costs. 

This Spotlight paper examines the potential for data trusts to overcome the wide-ranging challenges related to trusted data sharing, and to serve as a key part of the data infrastructure needed to accelerate climate action. Through examination of data trusts in action, the paper analyzes the ways in which data trusts can serve up climate-relevant data to support climate use cases.  

The urgency of climate action demands innovative solutions to overcome obstacles that hinder the effective use of climate-related data. By shortening the distance between data sharing and innovation/use, data trusts can play a critical role in addressing urgent climate-related needs. 

Download the spotlight.

Research Series

While data trusts hold great potential, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why we will continue to explore different models for trusted data sharing, and their potential to accelerate climate action.  

Much of this work was inspired by the multistakeholder Green Digital Action initiative convened by the International Telecommunications Union with participation from 40+ organizations. Following our engagement at COP28, the Digital Impact Alliance has rallied a group of partners to launch the Joint Learning Network on Unlocking Data for Climate Action (Climate Data JLN.) The Climate Data JLN brings together experts in climate action, data exchange, and digital public infrastructure to understand new models for data governance that can overcome challenges related to trusted data sharing.  

This multi-disciplinary network has identified multiple promising models to explore in the context of unlocking data for climate action. While this Spotlight paper examines the data trust model, the following papers in the series will examine other models such as decentralized protocols and data spaces.  

The Climate Data JLN will deliver recommendations in time for COP29 in Baku.