Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu

Launch of the Hand-in-Hand Geospatial Platform

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Remarks by FAO Director-General, Dr. QU Dongyu

As prepared



Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased to address you today at the launch of the Hand-in-Hand Geospatial Platform.

2. Personally, I consider this event a milestone of great importance for two reasons.

3. The first reason comes to me from a scientist’s point of view: The corner stone of the Hand-in-Hand initiative is data. Information that leads us to evidence-based knowledge.

4. And the Geospatial platform indeed provides us with a wealth of knowledge, thereby strengthening evidence-based sustainable development interventions and decision-making.

5. The Hand-in-Hand initiative has brought over 20 FAO units together from across multiple domains and range from Animal Health to Trade and Markets, integrating data from across FAO on Soil, Land, Water, Climate, Fisheries, Livestock, Crops, Forestry, Trade, Social and Economics.

6. So far, the platform has assembled over 1 million geospatial layers, thousands of statistics series with 4,000 metadata records.

7. The second reason speaks to the manager in me: Breaking down silos, increasing the exchange of expertise and sharing information.

8. Within FAO, the platform is the first step in breaking down traditional "silos" to contribute to the wider organizational objectives by increasing the exchange of knowledge and leveraging data to more effectively support the development of new policies or interventions, innovation, finance and investment, and institutional reform.

9. Data has also been sourced from FAO partners and public data providers across the UN and NGOs, the private sector and space agencies, containing both national and subnational data.

10. This is why the launch event today is of such relevance.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

11. Geospatial technologies and agricultural data represent an opportunity to find new ways of reducing hunger and poverty through more accessible and integrated data-driven solutions.

12. The Geospatial Platform serves as a digital public good to create interactive data maps, analyze trends and identify real-time gaps and opportunities.

13. Strengthening evidence-based decision-making in food and agriculture creates data-driven impact stories: From storytelling to story doing.

14. We have spared no effort to make this a cutting-edge digital platform:

  • The platform is federated, transparent and truly inclusive.
  • It is able to bring together data from a wide range of digital technologies like the Data Lab, Geonetwork, Geonode, CKAN, ArcgGIS and Google Earth Engine.
  • Data Privacy is ensured through the Open Data Policy of FAO.
  • Data Quality is guaranteed through the data ownership by the technical divisions and countries that have full control over the process.
  • Near real time data is sourced from the Data Lab, reviewed and vetted by the FAO Chief Statistician.

15. We are working to integrate new datasets and create country and domain specific evidence-based case studies to improve targeting and tailoring of policy interventions, innovation, finance and investment, and institutional reform.

16. The UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation calls for the promotion of digital public goods to unlock a more equitable world and the building of a more effective architecture for digital cooperation.

17. The Hand-in-Hand Geospatial Platform delivers on both of these aspects.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

18. Open knowledge is what open data becomes when it’s useful, usable and used.

19. Open to everyone; without any barriers to access and affordability.

20 That is what we want to achieve with this platform.

21. It has the potential to show what is working and what is not.

22. It permits us to carry out science-based Monitoring and Evaluation.

23. It provides us with actionable knowledge, tools for joint programming and better coordination on the ground.

24. It also contributes to addressing new global challenges in an innovative way.

25. Take COVID-19 for example, which is significantly impacting food security across the globe.


26. When I introduced the Hand-in-Hand Initiative less than a year ago, we had a clear goal:

27. And this was to bring the most sophisticated tools available together, including advanced geo-spatial modeling and analytics, in order to allow us to identify the biggest opportunities to raise the incomes and reduce the inequities and vulnerabilities of rural populations, who constitute the vast majority of the world's poor.

28. The launch event today brings us a big step closer to delivering on this promise and reaching our goal.

29. Let’s make this digital platform a public hall of knowledge and information which will serve to the benefit of all humankind.

Thank you.