Using Wikipedia to enhance global knowledge on climate change

Through Wikipedia, SouthSouthNorth has enhanced the quality and accessibility of climate change information on the world’s largest online encyclopaedia, and empowered a community of climate change editors from the global South

Global South | 6 August 2019 – ongoing

Wikipedia is the single most used open access source information in the world, and is a cornerstone of the global knowledge commons. Over the last year alone there were nearly 100 million pageviews of climate change related Wikipedia pages. Despite this widespread reach of Wikipedia’s content, to-date the platform has been significantly under-utilised as a tool for making climate change information more accessible and relevant to practitioners and policymakers.

In addition, Wikipedia lacks diversity both in terms of who contributes to the platform and the nature of the content. Only about 20% of Wikipedia editors are female, and it is thought that only around 20% are from the global South. Africa in particular has the fewest Wikipedia contributors per capita of any other region. A 2014 survey found that Africa contributes only about 1.3% of the world’s edits on the platform on a monthly basis.

Within this context, SouthSouthNorth identified Wikipedia as a powerful tool to ensure that the climate-related information in the online global knowledge commons is reliable, up-to-date and reflects how diverse countries and communities around the world are affected by, and are responding to, the climate crisis.

In collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation, we hosted two edit-a-thons in August 2019 and November 2020, conducted a webinar to raise awareness about Wikipedia, and compiled a guide for researchers, practitioners and communicators, ‘How to contribute climate change information to Wikipedia’ (available in English and Spanish).

Over the past two years, we have: ● Enhanced the quality and accessibility of climate change information on Wikipedia, particularly related to the global South ● Enhanced the confidence and skills of climate change researchers and practitioners to edit Wikipedia, especially women ● Increased awareness amongst climate change researchers and practitioners of the value of contributing to Wikipedia ● Built a community of climate change editors from the global South

The Wikipedia project is a collaboration between two programmes at SouthSouthNorth, the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and Future Climate for Africa (FCFA).


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Editor’s Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.