An open goal that can't be missed: 2015 and open data


Okay, so this may not be the most ground-breaking of introductions. It’s up there with bombshells such as “man catches bus” and “comedian tells joke”, but stick with me…it’s important.

What does post-2015 actually mean?

February 28, 2013, marked the first day of the UN’s post-2015 consultation on governance, jointly hosted by South Africa and Germany. For the uninitiated, “post-2015” is the lingo that the UN has given to the process of deciding what comes after the Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of 2015.

As you may recall, in amongst the commotion of the millennium bug at the turn of the century, there were two significant actions by the UN. The first was the publication of ‘The Millennium Declaration’, which outlines the principles of cooperation for the twenty-first century and, incidentally, is probably one of the finest documents to emerge from UN headquarters in New York. The second was, at the time, the slightly less fanfared Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which set targets for developing countries in areas such as halving extreme poverty, providing greater access to education and reducing child mortality.

What we’ve learnt over the past decade is that what gets measured, counts. Wonderful prose and narrative on the importance of governance and human rights are to be applauded (and we should drive for more commitments), but when it comes to investing money, governments have tended to focus on more measurable gains. The upshot of all this means that the MDGs, and the targets and indicators that they represent, have become the currency of twenty-first century development.

A goal on access to information

This brings me back to the UN post-2015 consultation on governance. If the lessons of the MDGs are to be learned this time round, it is essential that the values and principles of accountability, transparency and participation are translated into measurable goals, targets and indicators that are included within the new framework – not as a side note. Without an explicit push to improve the quality, timeliness and availability of information any efforts to establish a transformational post-2015 agenda will only ever be directed at an incomplete, and potentially inaccurate, picture.

Development Initiatives have been working on proposals for a goal on access to information. Together with the International Budget Partnership and Global Witness, we have produced a joint paper which we will be promoting at the UN Governance Consultation ‘An Open Goal – How to empower the Post-2015 framework’ . These sit alongside broader proposals on open development.

But we don’t however have the all the answers or the influence to make the goal happen. We need other members of the open data community to be alert to the post-2015 process and how we can collectively use this forum to advance the cause for open and better quality data. In short, we need your help to make sure the UN understand that this is an open goal that can’t be missed.

If you’d like to find out more about the post-2015 process then please contact andrew.palmer@devinit.org.

(Please note: This blog was also posted on the website of the Open Knowledge Foundation)