Knowledge, research and capacity development as enabling conditions

‘Water data’ are the physical, environmental, ecological, social, economic, cultural and political parameters of water use, availability and accessibility (Laituri and Sternlieb, 2014). ‘Data’ are “facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis”, whereas ‘information’ is a broader concept and includes “facts provided or learned about something or someone and/or what is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence of things” (Oxford English Dictionary). Data are always discrete and computable, whereas information can be much broader and include quantified, qualitative or unmeasured knowledge. Data are not usually useful as information until assessed or presented in a context. Often, the same data can be used to present different knowledge, like there are variations in how statistics can be interpreted. This is apparent in a number of places in this World Water Development Report where different stakeholders use the same data to portray different information or interpretations of value, place the same data in different contexts, and/or apply different assumptions and methods to interpret them. In addition, a key factor in valuations is that some stakeholders can deliberately exclude data in order to strengthen their case. This implies that whilst data as such are important, the way in which they are used to create messages is equally influential.

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