Boosting transparency of forest data

The Power of Collaboration for Innovation

Taller ONU-REDD de periodistas latinoamericanos en Colombia. Credit: UN-REDD / Marcela Rodríguez

Innovation and technology are crucial in driving progress, and it is crucial to recognize the potential of gender equality in promoting innovation, especially as we celebrate International Women’s Day. The theme for this year's celebration is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” which acknowledges the contributions of women and girls in advancing transformative technology and digital education. Collaboration is essential in promoting gender equality in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and digital fields, as it is the best way to innovate. 

The National Forest Monitoring Team of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)'s Forestry Division uses technology to revolutionize its work. The Division utilizes cloud services, online meeting software, and e-learning platforms to collaborate with colleagues worldwide, enabling it to implement projects such as the CBIT-Forest project. This project aims to increase the capacity of countries to make forest data more transparent and accessible for climate action. 

Gender disparities persist in STEM education and fields. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reports that only 35% of students enrolled in STEM fields are female, and just 28% of all researchers are women. These disparities are even more significant in the forestry sector, where women and marginalized groups face double discrimination due to social, economic, and cultural inequalities. 

As an organization, the United Nations collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) is taking active steps to promote gender equality and a human rights-based approach in its work. Its goal is to maximize the reach and power of STEM by utilizing the widest pool of talent to promote innovation. Leaving out women and other marginalized groups in this process can create suboptimal results and is a loss of a valuable resource for all. Moreover, there is a cost associated with this digital gender gap: a total of $1 trillion USD in Gross domestic product (GDP) foregone as a result of women's exclusion from the digital world. Therefore, promoting women's equal and active participation in innovation and technology is not just good development policy, but also smart economics. 

The power of collaboration in promoting gender equality in STEM and digital fields cannot be underestimated. Open science is a movement aiming to make science more open, accessible, efficient, democratic and transparent and is one way to promote equal and active participation of women. UNESCO's recommendations on open science provide an international framework for policy and implementation that is a critical reference point. Access is power. 

We must continue to develop policies and initiatives that enable equal access and participation of women and young people in science, innovation, and technology, leaving no one behind. We need more women leaders, and we need to invest in developing their skills. 

The message for International Women’s Day, echoing Rocío Cóndor, Forestry Officer, FAO message for women and girls: “Study, train, build a network of friends and professionals that will allow you to grow and support each other. Believe in yourself; actively participate and seek change always, in all the goals you set for yourself.”   

Collaboration for innovation is crucial to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls in the field of innovation and technology. By working together and leveraging collective talents and resources, a better future can be created for everyone. 

Rocio Condor’s full interview transcript is available here.

Watch Rocio Condor’s video interview here .

For more information on UNREDD’s work breaking the gender gap click here.