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Web Foundation · September 27, 2015

Web Foundation joins Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, Advances International Open Data Charter.


1 in 3 children under the age of 5 years old does not officially exist. Botswana’s current poverty estimates are based on figures from 1993. The World Bank has said 77 out of the 155 countries it measures do not have adequate poverty data. Of the countries included in our Open Data Barometer, only 8% publish open data on government spending, only 7% release open data on the performance of health services and only 12% provide corresponding figures on education.

This week, the world’s leaders agreed a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to end poverty and hunger, finally establish gender equity, and provide universal internet access to all. But how can we track our progress on the ambitious SDGs without reliable development data? As Mo Ibrahim, founder of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance said: “You cannot drive your car without indicators. How can you drive a whole country without data? You cannot.”

We need a data revolution. We need it now. And we need it to be open. Our Africa Regional Coordinator Nnenna Nwakanma said it best: “You can’t resist an idea whose time has come. This is the time for openness. If you don’t go open by yourself, openness will come to you”.

So alongside more and better data, why does it matter if development data is open?

  • Open data increases transparency and accountability. Billions of taxpayers dollars will be poured into achieving the SDGs. When data is open, we can check that money is going to the areas it has been earmarked for, and that contracts are not being awarded for political or personal gain.  
  • Open data helps us learn what works, and what doesn’t. When faced with a knotty problem – eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, for instance – it pays to have as many different perspectives and ideas as possible. When data is open, anyone is free to analyse and remix it – spotting new efficiencies or solutions as they go.
  • It’s our right. Government data is funded by taxpayers, and so should be free and open to citizens

The global community has accepted these principles. Now, it’s time for action. That’s why the Web Foundation has become a founding champion of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, alongside world governments, major companies, and civil society heavyweights. The aims of this partnership include ensuring that more, better data is available on development initiatives, and that this data is open for scrutiny and use by all.

Our key commitment to the Partnership is to drive the adoption and development of an International Open Data Charter, designed to ensure governments have a core set of principles to coalesce around, the tools to embed these principles into their day-to-day work, and are subject to a transparent and robust assessment process. At an Open Government Partnership meeting during UNGA on 27 September, the Founding members of the Partnership will endorse the development of the Charter. Further significant announcements will be made at the OGP Summit in October, to be hosted by the Government of Mexico, which is acting as the interim secretariat for the Charter.

In the words of our founder and Web inventor, Sir Tim Berners Lee:

The Global Partnership for Development Data and the development of an International Open Data Charter have the potential to accelerate progress by placing actionable data in the hands of people. We will continue to champion ambitious open data policies, innovation and research in our work, and are proud to join forces with others in this Global Partnership.

We call on governments to make open development data a priority, to engage with the Global Partnership, and to ready themselves to adopt the International Open Data Charter. To stay up-to-date with the Web Foundation’s open data team, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter @webfoundation and Facebook.


The Web Foundation is a proud member of the Open Data for Development network. This program is managed by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and it is a donor partnership with the World Bank, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), and Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development (DFATD).


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