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

STOP PRESS: UN holds consultation.

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

Today marks 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.

africa computer

As you may recall, in amongst the commotion of the millennium bug the turn of the century was
accompanied by 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 on First Avenue at 46th Street,
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 absolute poverty, providing greater
access to education and reducing child mortality.

What we’ve learnt over the decade since the millenium is that what get 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.

This brings me back to the UN post-2015 consultation on governance. If the lessons are to be learnt 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 as part of the goal
framework – not as the 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.

At Development Initiatives we have been working on proposals for a goal on access to information as well as
proposals on open development with others. But alone we don’t have the all the answers or
the influence to make this happen. What is needed is for 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

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