Ecology Programmes Resource Watch

The data challenges

The world’s ecosystems – forests, wetlands, mangroves, freshwater, rivers and lakes, oceans, deserts, mountains, and more – are being degraded, jeopardizing the well-being of people and the planet. One factor hindering conservation and reversal of this degradation is the paucity of usable, timely, decision-relevant data. “Out of sight” often means “out of mind.” Efforts to close this data gap and shine a spotlight on the degradation of the world’s resources are constrained by 3 challenges:

  1. Data is unavailable;
  2. Data is unusable;
  3. Data is unused.

These data challenges in turn contribute to challenges in governance. Inadequate data results in poor resource management decisions, poor law enforcement, and weak political momentum. Without access to data, citizens can be shut out of decisions about resources that affect their livelihoods and well-being. And lack of data independence can facilitate corruption and prevent accountability. In short, information is necessary for driving transparency. Transparency combined with citizen engagement can drive accountability. And accountability leads to more responsible and better decisions. Public and private actors are more likely to make environmentally and socially responsible choices if they know that they are being watched.

Resource Watch

As a result of the first phase of the Resource Watch programme, The World Resources Institute (WRI) launched Resource Watch in April 2018 to address the data challenges and take advantage of the data revolution. Resource Watch is an open, freely accessible, online global data system that unites technology, transparency, and human networks to drive sustainable management of the planet’s resources. It combines advanced monitoring systems, data (historic, near-real-time, and projections), complementary imagery and maps, cloud computing, mobile technology, and a networked world to create never-before-possible transparency on what is happening to the world’s resources – both faraway and right at home.

Curated by WRI’s experts, Resource Watch features hundreds of data sets on the state of the planet’s resources, commerce and people all in one place. Users can visualize and analyse the unprecedented challenges facing human society and the planet – including biodiversity, deforestation, degradation, air quality, water crises, energy generation, climate trends, poverty, state instability, sea level rise, human migration, and much more – and how they are interconnected.

Moving to Phase 2

The second phase of the programme, which started in March 2020, will undertake two complementary tracks of work over the next two years:

  1. Enable more local management via “My Resource Watch”: enable users to easily create their own place-based monitoring system, combining Resource Watch’s core global data and functionality with user generated data.
  2. Support users by strengthening core resource watch functionality: enhance the underlying flagship Resource Watch platform so that it can provide new global data, functionalities, and interfaces that users need.

Together, these components will help empower users with the information they need to reverse ecosystem degradation and secure a healthy planet where ecosystems and people thrive.

Access Resource Watch

Resource Watch is a collaborative initiative of the World Resources Institute




Key features

  Free, open-data online data system
  State-of-the-art technology combined with cutting edge science
  Radically improves transparency and decision-making
  New frontier in management of resources and restoration of ecosystems