- Vincent de Leijster, Field Officer
The Netherlands is one of the world’s largest food exporters. However, due to environmental, social and economic impacts the agricultural sector of the country faces many challenges. The non-profit Wij.land works in the Randstad area to find sustainable alternatives and reduce emissions.
In early stages of the community, specific plans and ambitions to scale-up were still unclear. Yet as membership increased and opportunities to contribute to more initiatives grew feasible, many new business models were proposed. However, these arrangements with eco-conscious buyers and other stakeholders required up-to-date, secure, and reliable access to information.
Often, miscommunication was exacerbated by “data silos” between business, academic, and government. No systems could be identified that met project criteria to 'ingest,' combine and share such information. Ultimately, this obstructed collaboration and value-creation. Such experiences reinforced the need for a capable information system that could provide a reliable and scalable infrastructure while at the same time flexible enough to manage shifting processes.
Adopting the Open Landscape Network enabled this project to integrate, organize, transform data from multiple sources, and share these insights directly with partners. The organization has become more effective and transparent, and is able to quickly innovate on opportunities.
A selection of the features include:
Following a 'continuous innovation' approach, more features are added to the system incrementally. This allows the community to effectively respond to unanticipated needs, from pandemics to policy changes or surging farm costs. As a result of this flexibility, risks facing the project are being shifted into opportunities.
Being able to quickly respond to new developments established the Wij.land project as a respected, in-demand partner in their landscape. Other regions and municipalities have observed this, and are requesting deployment of similar functionality.
By raising capacity to collect, organize, and share information, the system helps Wij.land keep overhead low while enabling and scaling-up new opportunities. The accessible design raises the sense of transparency, as well as increases engagement and collaborative innovation for benefits to members.
The impact of OLN on a project is difficult to measure, but Wij.landers agree the system made a significant difference to the project. The organization is taking-on increasingly complex projects, and supporting a larger number of farmers to shift to more nature-inclusive practices. It also helps entrepreneurs find sustainable business models, establish and scale-up new 'green' product lines.
Nearly every week, upgrades are being added. Yet a number of the most innovative ideas have not yet been implemented due to a need for more investment. Donors or companies interested to support such innovation are encouraged to engage.