Our history

The International Open Data Charter was launched at the margins of the 2015 United Nations General Assembly after a global consultation led by key representatives from governments including the UK, Canada, and Mexico, and civil society organisations.

Building global open data principles

In July 2013, G8 leaders signed the G8 Open Data Charter, which outlined a set of five core principles for how data can support transparency, innovation, and accountability. Many nations and open government advocates welcomed the G8 Charter, but there was a general sense that the principles could be refined and improved to support broader global adoption of open data principles.

In the months following, the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Open Data Working Group initiated activities to establish more inclusive and representative open data principles, including a number of multinational groups.

The International Open Data Charter (Charter) was launched at the margins of the 2015 United Nations General Assembly after a global consultation led by key representatives from OGP governments including the UK, Canada, and Mexico, and civil society organisations such as the World Wide Web Foundation, Open Data Institute, Open Knowledge Foundation, Center for Internet and Society, and the Initiative for Latin American Open Data. It set out six key Principles, including that data should be open by default, timely and interoperable.

An inclusive and transparent process

The Charter was developed within a broad participatory process which actively engaged governments and civil society from around the world.

As a first step, on the margins of the International Open Data Conference in Ottawa at the end of May 2015, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Open Data Working Group (co-chaired by Government of Canada and the Web Foundation), the Government of Mexico, the International Development Research Centre, the Open Data for Development (OD4D) Network, and Omidyar Network convened a meeting of open data champions from around the world to discuss next steps for consultations on the development of an International Open Data Charter. This meeting constituted a group of stewards with representatives of governments, civil society organisations, and multilateral institutions from around the world.

More than 1000 participants discussed an action plan for international collaboration on open data and the impact it can have in achieving sustainable development. The subsequent consultation of the draft document of the Charter, open through July and August 2015, resulted in the submission of over 350 comments, from all over the world, and contributed to significantly improve the Charter principles.

The International Open Data Charter was built on previous efforts and new findings in a number of important ways:

  • It is available for adoption by all national and subnational governments;
  • It promotes the comparability and interoperability of data for increased usage and impact, with an entirely new principle; and,
  • It acknowledges global challenges such as the digital divide, and the significant opportunities of open data for inclusive development;
  • It recommends standardisation (e.g. data and metadata);
  • It encourages cultural change;
  • It recognizes the importance of safeguarding the privacy of citizens and their right to influence the collection and use of their own personal data
  • It fosters increased engagement with citizens and civil society;
  • It promotes increased focus on data literacy, training programs, and entrepreneurship;
  • It welcomes the adoption by other organizations, such as those from civil society or the private sector;

After the official launch of the Charter at the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), rolling-launches for the adoption of the Charter took place at:

  • The OGP Summit in Mexico City (October 27-29, 2015);
  • The G20 Leaders’ Summit in Turkey (November 15-16, 2015);
  • The COP21 in France (December 7-8, 2015);
  • The International Open Data Conference in Madrid (October 3-7, 2016); and
  • The OGP Global Summit in Paris (December 6-9, 2016).

The Open Data Charter team

Following a growing momentum of adoptions worldwide, a small full-time Open Data Charter (ODC) team was put in place in 2017 to help turn these principles into practice.

Since then, with more than 100 governments and organisations committing to opening up data based on a set of global principles, the ODC has influenced global data policies, helping shift focus to the purpose-driven publication of open data.

This has begun to deliver concrete benefits in countries around the world, with a global community of open data practitioners working to instil a culture of open and responsible data use in governments and its citizens.

Learn more about how your government or organisation can join the Open Data Charter network and use open data to help solve some of the most pressing policy challenges of our time and create just societies and innovative economies.