Problems with feeding a growing population, mitigating the effects of climate change, and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels are not confined within national boundaries and cannot be tackled by a single nation. Instead, we must all work together to design sustainable solutions that take account of current scientific discoveries, socioeconomic drivers and political pressures. Ensuring that all individuals, scientists, policy makers and farmers can make decisions based on up-to-date evidence requires appropriate digital and physical infrastructures to be established to promote the exchange of knowledge, ideas, data, resources and best practice – both in person and online.
For example, the ever-increasing amount of data being generated by scientific research must be accessible to as many users as possible to effectively harness its benefits. This will enable automated data mining and cross-consultation, while reducing duplications in the research process. Projects are already underway already across the globe to promote storage of, access to and analysis of data in the biological sciences including CyVerse, DOE Knowledgebase, and ELIXIR. This increased access to data is also accompanied by a drive to promote open access (Van Noorden, 2012; Van Noorden, 2013).
The concept of open access is not just limited to academic outputs but also affects physical resources such as plant germplasm collections, which are central to providing the genes and diversity requried to develop plants that are more resilient and adapted to a changing climate. Although climate change impacts vary from region to region, most of the world’s plants will experience a climate that they have not been exposed to before. We therefore need to be able to exchange germplasm between countries if we are to provide future food security.
To assist in this area the Global Plant Council is working with partners including Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN)and the Research Data Alliance (RDA) to promote data accessibility, exchange and reuse in all of its current initiatives. We also work with educators and trainers to develop and share best practice and resources for use in plant science education, including translating these into other languages, as part of our Knowledge Exchange initiative.