Reaktor helps FAO of UN ramp up the fight against climate change with modern tech

The sustainable management of forests plays a central role in countering climate change. Thus, it’s also one of the core objectives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) which aims to end hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty worldwide.

FAO is not a newcomer in this field: the organization has been monitoring the world’s forests at 5 to 10-year intervals ever since 1946, and is in charge of producing Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA) every five years. Due to the global nature of the work, software and digital solutions are essential for FAO and its operations. It’s no surprise that the organization is the biggest software-developing agency in the UN, and keen to utilize modern solutions in their operations.

However, as FAO looks to ramp up its fight against climate change with modern technologies, the FRA team decided to look for inspiration, and help in adopting design thinking in digital services development. This is where – and we say this with great pride – we come into the picture.

We got onto their radar for two main reasons. First, Finland is a nation known for being savvy in tech and design and having world-class companies. Second, these companies help their clients also with culture, methods, leadership and other softer albeit just as significant fields.

At Reaktor, we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to do work that fights climate change and promotes a more sustainable world.

Adopting modern methods and a redesigned system for 234 countries and areas

Together with FRA’s domain experts and own developers, our job is to design and build a new system for the aforementioned Global Forest Resources Assessments. These assessments are produced to provide a consistent approach to describing the world’s forests and how they are changing.

A few key facts about the new system:

  • The goal is to…
    • Enhance trustworthiness and transparency of report results
    • Facilitate communication and improvement in national practices
    • Make reporting easy and efficient
  • The redesigned system will be used by 234 countries and areas globally
  • The system will be developed with modern agile methods and open-source technologies, including as React, JavaScript and Node.js.
  • The system will be launched in the beginning of 2018. The first FRA assessment made with the new system will be released in 2020.

In addition to co-building the actual system, a big part of our collaboration focuses on FRA’s experts adopting new ways of thinking about and solving complex problems. We plan to do this by leveraging Design Thinking and Agile software development methods, which have helped many types of organizations in adapting to the modern, digitized operational environment.

This also means that experts from both organizations will work closely together in Helsinki and Rome throughout the whole project, ensuring everything moves forward without a hitch.

Exciting times ahead! If you’d like to learn more about FAO and sustainable management of forests, you might want to take a look at these:

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