Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), the U.N., U.K. and U.S. government supported initiative driving global efforts to tackle food security and to end world hunger by propagating open data polices in agriculture and nutrition across the world, has announced the relocation of its headquarters from Oxford, in the United Kingdom to McGill University in Montréal, Canada effective September 24, 2019.
In Q4 2018, GODAN received 12 hosting offers to continue the next phase of its pioneering work. The winning bid will see GODAN hosted by McGill University, as part of a funding consortium led by Montréal International, which includes the City of Montréal, the Government of Québec and the Government of Canada. GODAN is managed by a Board of Donors, including the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR), the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Department for International Development of the U.K. (DfID), the governments of India, China, Mexico, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, and Montréal City.
The GODAN initiative began as a discussion between world leaders on the merits of Open Data at the 2012 G8 Summit. It was formally announced in April 2013, at the G8 Open Government Partnership Conference, where leaders committed to the shared goal of achieving global food security through the medium of open data. The initiative finally began its mission in 2015 with the creation of a Secretariat dedicated to building a high-level support system and designing and implementing the strategy required to optimize farm yields via the knowledge gained by open access to agricultural data.
Speaking about the move to McGill University in Montréal, André Laperrière, the Executive Director at GODAN said, “We are excited to announce the next chapter of the GODAN initiative, as we move to McGill University in Canada. We are grateful to the support extended by our partners - McGill University, Montréal International, the City of Montréal, the Government of Québec and the Government of Canada. We are confident to have access to a stream of unrivalled research and tech talent, which will help us work collaboratively towards creating a better, food-secure planet.”
McGill University offers access to internationally recognized expertise in agriculture, food and environmental research, thanks to their world-class research facilities and scientific experts.
Welcoming GODAN to McGill University, Anja Geitmann, Professor and Dean of McGill’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences said, “Global initiatives pertaining to emerging agri-data technologies allow maximization of research potential as well as optimization of data standards and communication. Continued interactions between multiple academic units at McGill including the Margaret A. Gilliam Institute for Global Food Security, and organizations that lead global initiatives pertaining to agricultural data facilitate this process and closely align contemporary research agenda with specific needs of agriculture-linked stakeholders and the general public.
GODAN's partnership concept connects well with the FAES strategic goal to pursue science-based innovations in agriculture and the agri-food industry, using their rapidly expanding capability to employ information technologies through the entire food and bio-material production and distribution process.”
Given its extensive expertise in supporting international organizations, Montréal International strategically approached the bid to host GODAN.
“We are delighted to be welcoming GODAN, which is now part of the largest community of international organizations in Canada and North America, just after Washington and New York. We recognize their global fight for food security as a critical issue of today’s world, and we are happy they will operate from Montréal,” stated Hubert Bolduc, President and CEO of Montréal International.
Nadine Girault, Québec Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, was equally enthusiastic, saying, “Québec is proud to welcome the headquarters of Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) to its largest city, Montréal. GODAN will join 66 other international organizations already established in our metropolis, whose high concentration of international researchers and institutions, particularly in the digital and artificial intelligence sectors, reaffirms its leadership qualities. The relocation of GODAN to Québec responds to our government’s increasing interest in issues related to food security and nutrition, while at the same time confirming our credibility among large international organizations.”
"The launch of GODAN's head office in Montréal is great news. The research conducted by the international organization will certainly help our administration to pursue its efforts in supporting the development of urban agriculture and food security," said Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal.
GODAN has gone from strength to strength over the past four years. With a rapidly growing network of close to a thousand partners from over 115 countries, GODAN combines the thought power of an ever-expanding network of governments, NGO’s and private sector organisations, with the common goal of harnessing data and agricultural technology to reduce incidences of hunger and malnutrition.
“3.1 million children are dying from malnutrition each year, according to figures produced last year by UNICEF, with malnutrition and hunger contributing to more than half of global childhood deaths in 2018. With the world population growing at such a rapid rate, agricultural productivity needs to keep up. Through collaboration with partners, we can harness the potential of open data, helping ensure that no one goes hungry,” said Mr. Laperrière.