The new draft Global Biodiversity Framework, which will be adopted in October at the 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China, includes targets to steer society to ‘live in harmony with nature,’ such as reducing use of fertilizers and increasing genetic resources conservation. In other words, it includes targets to increase the use and conservation of agricultural biodiversity. If the new framework is adopted, we will have to find a way to measure countries’ efforts towards improving agrobiodiversity. But how can we best do that?
Interviewer: Can you share with us how this all started?
Sarah: The idea of using text mining - extracting useful information from a large number of documents - to measure commitments towards agrobiodiversity came up while we were developing the Agrobiodiversity Index. The Index is a tool that measures the status of agrobiodiversity as well as actions and commitments to increase its use and conservation in diets, production and genetic resources. At that time, we had plenty of data to assess status and actions, but measuring commitments seemed very difficult, considering the existing countries’ huge amounts of policy documents and strategies related to the topic. We needed a way to automatize the analysis of these documents to speed up the process.
Interviewer: That’s interesting! And what was the process to develop the text mining tool?
Natalia: As a first step, we made a list of keywords to track countries’ commitments towards agrobiodiversity, based on an extensive literature review on the role of agrobiodiversity in healthy diets, sustainable agriculture and genetic resource management. Then, we produced a text mining script that analyzes policy documents and extracts clauses where the keywords appear. The scoring is done manually.