Towards a common vocabulary for climate change

This blog article has been written collaboratively by the project team.

Locating good quality and relevant information to help address climate change can be a challenging and time consuming task. Paradoxically, in an increasingly interconnected and information rich world, the sheer volume of information being produced globally and the multiplicity of possible sources can make identifying and accessing the right information for your own particular context and needs increasingly difficult.

A new project being developed by three organisations, each with their own particular interests in climate knowledge sharing, aims to make a small contribution towards addressing this issue.
The project partners – Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) aim to develop a shared Linked Open Data (LOD) thesaurus which bring together and build on each of their independently developed controlled vocabularies.

In the past, all three organizations have developed their own vocabulary:
• SPREP has developed a controlled vocabulary in collaboration with the Australian Griffith University
• CCCCC has developed a taxonomy on the basis of the most relevant material, expert discourses and best practices in the Caribbean
• REEEP has developed a LOD thesaurus based on gradual enhancement and the judgement of external experts

The idea is that creating a common vocabulary based on this previous work should not only improve the partners ability to categorise and share their own information but also create a tool to enhance the search mechanisms for a larger audience to find appropriate information across geographic, sectoral and language barriers.

As a first set of activities, a gap analysis is being conducted to identify new terms as well as additional synonyms or abbreviations that can be added to the existing vocabularies. Then, employing a survey and interviews, climate change experts and practitioners from the Caribbean, the Pacific and Europe will be asked to provide use­cases and terms for search queries that suit their practical work to best capture the real needs of target users.

Once the categorization models have been aligned to suit the use­cases, two new thesauri will be created based on CCCCC’s and SPREP’s concepts, and REEEP’s thesaurus will be extended to include the full spectrum of terms used by the project partners.

The newly created thesauri will be available as Linked Open Data under a Creative Commons license, in order to enable others to build on and apply the outcomes from the project in their own work.

The project is being supported by the Open Knowledge Hub (, an Open Content project funded by UKAid which aims to improve supply and accessibility of content that supports policy making and practice in global development. The Hub has been developed by a group of partners, led by the Open Knowlege and Digital Services team at IDS, that includes both the CCCCC and SPREP, and hopes to make use of the outcomes of the project itself to improve the searchability and usefulness of their own content.

The project will be running from December 2015 until end of February 2016 and we will provide further updates as the work progresses as well as sharing our learning in more detail once the work is complete. In the meantime if you have any questions or would like to find out more we would be very happy to hear from you.