Here are two seemingly unrelated truisms that can be said about today. First, we have entered a world of big data – much of that big data is freely available. Second, much of human welfare and health is inextricably linked to the functioning of the world’s ecosystems. However, these two platitudes are not unrelated. The truth is that we can get a better understanding of how the condition and management of the world’s ecosystems affects human welfare by systematically analyzing and synthesizing some of these large, freely available datasets. This is what we intend to do here. We have the goal of using geo-referenced household, health, and agricultural surveys in combination with biophysical and governance data in order to better understand the relationship among human health and welfare, ecological condition, and natural resource governance. We leverage expertise in human health, development, conservation and social sciences in order to perform impact evaluations, explore characteristics of interventions that work, and forecast potential future outcomes under changing socio‐economic conditions. We focus on sub-Saharan Africa, and coastal fisheries in the developing world, because this is where the expertise of the participants lie and where our organizations have fieldwork ‘on the ground.’ The results of our work will yield implications for planning the governance of natural resources; preparing for potential areas of conflict between biodiversity, livelihoods, and health; and scoping adaptation projects based on an understanding of how changing populations will affect and be affected by changes in ecological conditions.