Introduction of an XML schema “Akoma Ntoso” to structure the workflow of FAO normative and Governing Body documents.

FAO is working on a project which aims to demonstrate that producing Governing Body documents using an XML schema leads to a more efficient workflow and to increased accessibility of the content of documents. 


In 2015 FAO launched an Open Governance Initiative consisting of the introduction of an XML-based standard for managing Governing Body documents.

The project started analyzing the current documentation workflow built on the concept that the “Web is the web of documents” in contrast with the concept of “semantic web”, which is an interconnected interoperable web of data. Websites are treated as repositories of documents produced following the traditional printing model.

The introduction of a semantic standard to structure the content of documents will provide a framework for convening the context of information, making it easily understandable by humans and machines, and will drive accountable and meaningful ways of discovering related content.

As an example: most users submit queries regarding FAO Governing Body to search engines and the web returns a large set of information, which should be selected making sure the user has the institutional and background knowledge to identify the documents lifecycle and extract the information needed from a large number of results retrieved.

Structuring the content of Governing Body documents will make this process much easier as it will enable the users to explore the relationships between the questions asked compared with other pieces of information available online, thus providing searches that return relevant results. Not only it will answers questions, but also it will provide additional information “related- connected” to the questions.

Moreover, structured Governing Body documents will offer new features to users, such as annotations, mush ups, mobile apps, providing the semantically raw data so that they can build new products using the same data.

The XML-based standard being evaluated is “Akoma Ntoso ” – Architecture for Knowledge-Oriented Management of African Normative Texts using Open Standards and Ontologies. It was developed specifically to describe in XML parliamentary, legislative and normative documents and it is currently used in many Parliaments around the world including the European Parliament.

In the recent months, FAO has been working on the production of prototypes to assess if Akoma Ntoso schema is suitable to structure FAO Governing Body documents and their workflow.

For more information, please contact : MariaGrazia.Bovo@fao.org