Action Line C7 - Building a Framework for Digital Innovation in Agriculture

Food and Agriculture Organization / International Telecommunication Union

Session 278

11:00–13:00, Thursday, 22 March 2018 Room K1, ITU Montbrillant Interactive Action Line Facilitation Meeting Speakers/Panellists  Link to WSIS Action Lines  Link to SDGs  Summary Document  Related Links 

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The food and agricultural sector is going to face enormous challenges to feed the 9.6 billion people who will inhabit the planet by 2050, and food production must increase by 70% by 2050. Digital innovation, which means transforming ideas into value in a sustainable way, is key transforming the food and agriculture sector to address these challenges and achieve the SDGs in line with the WSIS Action Lines. Innovative use of digital technologies contribute to improving livelihoods of farmers, increase nutrition and food security, reduce poverty, and provide solutions to better adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change on agriculture. In addition, innovation and ICTs help us to improve society productivity and to reach the most vulnerable.  However, it is necessary to develop a strategic framework for sustainable digital innovation to support collaboration of UN agencies, partners, and national governments in implementing ICTs,  digital innovation programmes, and increase e-agriculture initiatives and capacity development. The aim of such framework is to achieve (a) accelerated upscaling of critical services, (b) reduced deployment costs addressing urban and rural realities, (c) enhanced public awareness and engagement, (d) innovation, connectivity, productivity and efficiency, and (e) faster upgrading in the quality of services and employment opportunities. Promoting the concept of innovation as transforming ideas into value also means building cross-industry multi-stakeholder partnerships and networks to explore, test and replicate new technologies, processes and capacity development for agriculture and food systems development. Within the scope of the framework are initiatives like the WSIS, ITU-FAO co-organized regional and global Hackathons to promote competitions and projects to develop/prototype innovative applications and support the arising of start-ups and young developers and entrepreneurs. An example in FAO is the partnership with Google Earth Engine (GEE), leveraging Google's computing platform  to run geospatial analysis. In partnership with one of the largest private telecommunication companies, Telefonica, FAO is piloting the use of remote sensing and the Internet of Things (IoT) for water productivity in agriculture. In addition, FAO and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are partnering to  strengthen agro-meteorological services and improve monitoring for early warning and response to high-impact events like droughts by connecting farmers and fishers to improved technologies to better cope. Within this scope, FAO is developing mobile applications to empower rural small holder and family farmers by providing direct, real-time, localized advisory services, such as nutrition, market access and fair trade, weather and crop calendars, and disease and pest control for livestock. Overall, WSIS Beyond 2018 should focus on establishing environments and networks aim to identify and develop new digital solutions and processes for food systems development and poverty reduction, facilitating knowledge transfer between countries and sustainable development organizations. This will help the international community harness digital innovation and steer it towards social good, particularly to build resilience and improve livelihoods of small-scale farmers and fishers.


James Azevedo Görgen - Digital Innovation and Development at FAO


  • Laura Bordin - Associative Creative Director at Frog Design
  • Cliff Smith - Talking Book Project
  • WSIS Prize e-Agriculture winners
  • Hani Skandar - ICT Applications Coordinator at ITU

Session's link to WSIS Action Lines

  • AL C7 e-Agr logo C7. ICT Applications: E-agriculture

The sessions is linked to the WSIS Action Line C7 focused on using ICT applications for e-Agriculture. More specifically, e-Agriculture involves the conceptualization, design, development, evaluation and application of in innovative ways to use information and communication
technologies (ICT) in the rural domain, with a primary focus on agriculture.  The session directly links with this Action Lines and proposes a framework for systematically integrating e-Agriculture at the national level through the creation of a digital innovation ecosystem that supports and fosters the creation and use of ICTs to empower smallholder and family farmers and fishers and improve productivity in food systems as a whole.

Session's link to Sustainable Development Process

  • Goal 1: No poverty logo Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2: Zero hunger logo Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth logo Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 13: Climate action logo Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Digital innovation has the potential to transform the approach to all 17 SDGs. Specifically, the development of a strategic framework for digital innovation in the food and agriculture sector will provide a systematic process and sustainable business model for creating, testing, funding, and scaling new digital solutions to achieving the SDGs, particularly 1, 2, 8, and 13. Through this process, youth entrepreneurship, capacity development, and multi-stakeholder partnerships will be formed that will enable a permanent and systematic to integrate digital technologies and innovation into local communities and national action plans. These activities contribute to SDGs 1,2 8, and 13 as well as establishing business models to produce new ideas and products aimed at contributing and achieving all the SDGs.


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