To make data open and freely available, while protecting the rights of people and communities. To see this shift help solve some of the most pressing challenges of our time, creating more just societies and innovative economies.
We want a world in which governments collect, share and use well-governed data, to respond effectively and accountably to our most pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges. We want this to happen by default unless it would demonstrably infringe human rights.
Specifically, we want:
- public officials to balance the tradeoffs between advancing transparency and accountability using data and protecting the rights of people and communities
- citizens to be able to easily see and influence what their public officials do, and to trust their institutions
- people to be able to use openly available data and accountable automated tools to access equitable public services
How we work
In our efforts to encourage a shift towards governments being “open by default”, we have learned that publishing data to solve specific policy problems is more effective than doing so in isolation. “Publish with purpose” creates more incentives and momentum than “publish and they will come”.
To this end, we focus on encouraging governments to take small steps that yield quick wins. We support reformers in government and their partners to prioritise opening up and using quality data to help address globally relevant problems and to develop a trustworthy data governance framework to achieve this goal.
There are two main strands to our work – articulating global norms and helping governments translate them into concrete reforms which work for their context. What we learn from this implementation is fed back into our advocacy for a global standard.
- Articulating norms
We work with our network of government adopters and international bodies to show how good data governance can address global policy goals, and help build field partnerships to ground open data norms in culture and practice.
We prioritise collaboration with organisations working on other data rights – like privacy – to ensure our calls for reform are mutually reinforcing. Through these partnerships, we help governments to strike a balance between advancing transparency and accountability using data and protecting human rights.
- Demonstrating impact
Alongside this, we lobby and support governments to implement reforms based on open data rights principles that yield tangible benefits to citizens (see audiences below).
We also partner with field experts to develop practical guidance on how to implement rounded open data policies and practices, that explicitly recognise the importance of data rights and risk mitigation, and connect governments with experts in governing data inclusively and accountably.
By focusing on delivering social and political benefits, we create a positive feedback loop which gathers lessons from effective policy solutions, builds stronger institutional support globally, and broadens the coalition for purpose-driven, balanced access to and use of data.
Partnership and collaboration are central to our work. As a small yet agile team, we work with data experts and sector organisations to support governments to implement principles and deliver systemic change.
Our key stakeholders include:
- Reformist governments – they make key decisions over how to collect, share, and use the information that drives policy solutions. They also regulate companies to ensure they do not abuse our data rights, and in some cases, make data openly available. This mix of responsibilities makes them the ultimate targets of our advocacy calls.
By showing how an open approach to data rights can address the wider challenges and opportunities they face, we create incentives for policy-makers to invest in this area as a tool for good government.
We specifically target reformist governments which aim to demonstrate how an open and human rights-based approach to data governance can help address critical issues like climate change, gender inequality and transparency in political campaigning.
- Field experts – they bring specialized knowledge about what data they need to help them tackle clearly defined problems and opportunities. We partner with leading experts in several fields at global and local levels, to create thematic guidance which helps governments govern the data they release well, and provide use cases to demonstrate the impact of doing so.
- Data practitioners – an extensive group of organisations endorse the ODC principles, and we increasingly collaborate with diverse data communities, including from, privacy, security, access to information, and artificial intelligence groups. We connect data experts with our partners to help them address the problems they care about with smart, standardised use of open data.
Executive Director, led the national open data policy in Mexico between 2013-2016, delivering a key presidential mandate on opening up government data in more than 200 public institutions and a network of over 40 cities in Mexico and strengthening open data commitments globally. Ania will provide overall leadership for the team. She will develop goals and strategies to advance its mission, promote the Charter at the highest levels and provide sound fundraising systems and financial management for the success of the organisation.
Deputy Director, worked as the Open Government Director for the Undersecretary of Public Innovation and Open Government of Argentina where she coordinated the co-creation of the 3rd Open Government National Action Plan – a project that engaged 15 national Ministries, the Legislative and Judiciary Powers, 11 Provinces and more than 400 participants from civil society.
Nati will support the delivery of the Charter’s strategy, engaging with experts from governments, civil society organizations, academics and private sector. She will also support the development of plans to deliver projects in collaboration with the Charter network.
Network Director, Agustina has a solid background working in the civil society sector. She worked for almost eight years at Directorio Legislativo, an Argentinean CSO that promotes legislative openness in Latin America, where she occupied different positions. She has specialized in issues of open government, transparency and accountability, participated and lead national and regional advocacy projects and events. Agustina earned a degree in Political Science from the University of Buenos Aires and is working towards a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management at the Universidad de San Andrés (both in Argentina).
Agustina will support the Charter’s network by developing and implementing an engagement and communications strategy for the governments and organizations that have adopted the Charter; providing guidance for potential adopters and liaising with Working Group chairs to support the delivery of their action plans.
Communications lead, Cat has led successful fundraising, partnerships and communications campaigns in the social development sector since 2012. In 2016, she managed the communications team for the Singapore Committee for UN Women, an independent non-governmental organisation supporting UN Women’s initiatives, before taking a sabbatical from advocacy work. In 2019, she was introduced to the use of open data in governance, while managing communications for the British High Commission, Singapore. Her role with the ODC combines two things that she loves: writing and data. Cat will deliver the ODC’s advocacy and communications strategy and will work closely with the team to address emerging issues that will impact our work.
Our Governance Structure
The Open Data Charter is overseen by a governance structure designed to reflect our position as a trusted space that guides, connects and enables governments and organisations to deliver impact from open data. These structures support the delivery of our mission and include a multi-stakeholder Advisory Board, with responsibilities for running the initiative and providing oversight for the performance of the Charter Network Team.
From its inception, the Charter has collaborated with governments and expert organisations working to open up data, based on a shared set of principles. This is reflected in the governance structure that includes highly committed governments, multilaterals and civil society organizations representatives in our Advisory Board helping guide and shape the work we do at the global and local level.
Read more about our governance structure.
Our Advisory Board
The work of the Charter team is overseen by our advisory board. See here for our full governance structure.
Richard Stirling (Chair) is the co-founder and CEO of Oxford Insights. Involved in open data for the last 8 years, he designed and lead the UK’s open data programme. As innovation director at the Open Data Institute, he has worked with the World Bank, IDRC, and countries around the world on open data implementation.
Dr. Catherine Woteki is a professor at Iowa State University with over 40 years of senior management experience in both public & private sectors. Dr. Woteki served as the Chief Scientist and Under Secretary in the United States Department of Agriculture under the Obama administration (2010–2016). Here, she instituted the USDA’s first scientific integrity and open data policies; and was instrumental in establishing and implementing the US government open data policies in food and agriculture programs.
Enrique Zapata is Main Lead for Data Intelligence and New Technologies at the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF). We previously led Mexico’s National Anticorruption Digital Platform, a first of its kind initiative to order, standardize and use key data sources and artificial intelligence to build integrity and fight corruption.
Fabrizio Scrollini is the Executive Director of the Open Data Latin American Initiative (ILDA). Fabrizio works with governments, regulators and civil society at both international and regional levels on transparency, access to public information, open data projects and public sector reform.
Fernando Perini is Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Fernando has extensive international experience as researcher, consultant, and lecturer.
Helen Darbishire is the founder and Executive Director of Access Info Europe, a NGO that promotes the right of access to information in Europe and globally. Helen is a human rights activist, that combines over 25 years of civil society experience with a specialised knowledge of the legal, practical, and policy issues related to access to information, open data, and open government.
Gonzalo Iglesias is an independent consultan in open data and innovation. He previously was National Director of Data and Public Information in the Ministry of Modernisation for the Government of Argentina (2015-2019).
Martin Tisné is Managing Director at Luminate Group. He is responsible for Luminate’s Data & Digital Rights impact area, their work in Europe, and policy and advocacy work. Martin brings over 15 years of investment and leadership experience to his role, including founding and co-founding two multi-stakeholder initiatives and three NGOs.
Muchiri Nyaggah is the Executive Director of the Local Development Research Institute (LDRI), an action-oriented think tank supporting efforts of African Union member states to end extreme poverty, end hunger and reduce inequalities. Muchiri is also a Senior Fellow at the Results for Development Institute where he provides guidance on data for decision-making projects. His work contributes to the strengthening of efforts to leverage data and data-informed strategies to solve real-world problems.
Aimee Whitcroft is part of the NZ open government data programme (‘Open Data NZ’), itself part of Stats NZ. Her focuses are on continued open data advocacy and engagement, as well as contributing to the data.govt.nz service. She’s worked for a number of New Zealand’s most prominent scientific, internet/tech-related and government organisations/teams, and has founded, co-founded and lead a number of organisations and initiatives based around open data, open government, open science and related subjects
Sander van der Waal is the Head of Network and Partnerships at the Open Knowledge International (OKI), where he focuses on strengthening connections between the projects at OKI and the wider Open Knowledge Network. He does this together with the team that’s responsible for the areas of Research, Communications, and Community Management.
Former Board members
- Allison O’Beirne, analyst with the Open Government Team in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
- Thom Townsend, Senior Policy Advisor at the Cabinet Office of UK.
- Nosa Ero-Brown, Director of Ontario’s Open Government Office.
- José M. Alonso, Director of Digital citizenship at the World Wide Web Foundation.
- Craig Fagan, Policy Director at the World Wide Web Foundation.
- Sumandro Chattapadhyay, a Research Director at the CIS
- Implementation Working Group – a trusted space to support public officials and experts working to deliver the Charter Principles by facilitating the sharing of practical knowledge, drawing on the experience of people actually working on making open data happen. To maximise the utility of its meetings, the IWG focuses on a spotlight topic of significant nuanced debate each month to exchange knowledge and experience, ask questions and gather insights.
If you represent a government, civil society organization, private sector or multilateral working on open data and wish to participate in the Open Data Charter’s working groups, please send an email to email@example.com.
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.