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Taxonomy & Faceted Search for Climate Change

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

It’s not often we get to use taxonomy to help effect global change.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat is a UN body mandated to help coordinate and monitor the global initiative to reduce greenhouse gases under the international treaty. They have the monstrous task of supporting the negotiation processes at the yearly climate change meetings, as well as creating mechanisms to help countries share and implement mitigation strategies.

As you can imagine, the UNFCCC creates and publishes a lot of content, ranging from scientific documentation on climate change technology to meeting agendas and negotiation text. With every passing year, this content grows and gets harder to search.

The Secretariat approached us to help make their documents more findable and easier to manage both internally and on their website, unfccc.int, which was about to undergo a redesign. The challenge was to develop something that would be meaningful for staff, party delegates as well as external observers of the process.

Our approach:

You say findability issue? We say taxonomy.

But this was no ordinary taxonomy. This vocabulary had to cover lots of ground and fulfill multiple roles. It had to be intuitive enough for different audiences to use it to browse the public-facing website. It also had to create a structure that could relate content dynamically and reduce the document management burden.

With all the various use cases in mind, we worked with UNFCCC staff to create a multi-faceted taxonomy that included elements such as bodies, sessions, document types, party groups, programmes, and topics. Each facet was carefully crafted to serve multiple functions in the UNFCCC’s vast information landscape.

We also worked with the knowledge management team to develop a taxonomy governance strategy, so that as climate change evolves, so can the taxonomy.

The reveal:

Just before the big conference in Durban, South Africa, UNFCCC launched its new website.

It boasts a new taxonomy-powered user experience for navigating sessions and their related documents. No longer do web managers have to manually link agendas and content to the different meetings – everything is dynamic.

The official document search has also been revamped, offering new taxonomy filters to refine search results. There is also a new taxonomy browse interface to help people discover the subjects that the UNFCCC covers.

The new site was a big hit with staff and users in Durban. And it continues to increase document findability – there were over 2 million document downloads for the recent conference in Quatar!

If you’d like to know more about this project or taxonomy design, contact us!

Related services:

Taxonomy Design
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