I’ve been at the 19th Meeting of the Scientific Committee of World Data System (WDS: https://www.icsu-wds.org/) in Cape Town (12-13th November).  The objectives of the WDS are to enable universal and equitable access to quality-assured scientific data, data services, products and information, including ensuring the long-term stewardship of these data and products. In practical terms, WDS fosters compliance to agreed-upon data standards and conventions, such as the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable) principles and to provide mechanisms to facilitate and improve access to data and data products. The SC meeting happened just after International Data Week (http://www.internationaldataweek.org/), which was held in Gabarone (Botswana) and attracted more than 820 data scientists from around the world, so part of our discussions focused on the lessons learnt from that meeting. However, most of the discussions centred on how WDS could better serve the data science and data stewardship community. I always find the discussions at WDS meetings informative and stimulating – but also a little depressing in terms of how far one is “behind the curve” as an individual science practitioner when it comes to best practice in data management and stewardship. Our group has had a leadership role in palaeo-environmental database creation and been involved in community-based model development, and has always been compliant to broad requirements for public access and open data – but oh, we should and can do more! And, watch this space, we will!!

Members attending the Meeting of the Scientific Committee of World Data System in Cape Town, South Africa