Open Data roundtable at first Financing for Development drafting session

The Government of the Netherlands, Publish What You Fund, and the International Budget Partnership (IBP) co-organized a lunchtime discussion titled ‘Open data for Development in the Financing for Development Outcome’ hosted by UNDP, around the Financing for Development first drafting session in New York last week.

The poor weather in New York led to the initial event being cancelled and the presenter from the Government of Mexico was unfortunately unable to attend. However, the rescheduled meeting saw participants from the U.S., Mexico, Norway, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia all represented; as well as colleagues from the U.N. civil society groups including ONE, Christian Aid and the UN Foundation.

The discussion was facilitated by Jeannet Lingán from Publish What You Fund and aimed to illustrate what open data for development means and how existing international and national open data initiatives promote transparency, accountability and participation; and are paving the way for better decision making, coordination and achievement of positive impact in sustainable development.

Robin Uyterlinde from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands made contributions on the International Aid Transparency Initiative and the experience of the Netherlands making its aid information available alongside expanding coverage, quality and data use; Claire Schouten from IBP spoke on the different open data initiatives at country level tracking funding from aid flows, revenues and budget into development results; and Lauren Bradford from the Foundation Center, currently working on a pilot project across Kenya, Indonesia, Colombia, Ghana and Cambodia aiming to use open data to map philanthropy sector flows against the SDGs.

Participants addressed the challenges and opportunities to expand the outreach of open data initiatives and how the FfD outcome could help create an enabling environment for open data and transparency to serve sustainable development coordination, decision making and accountability to enhance impact and results.

Five elements were proposed to form part of a potential FfD outcome:

  1. At the policy level, there is a need to ensure information on development flows are open and transparent by default (with adequate consideration of privacy issues when relevant and clear definition on where and when they apply).
  2. Information and data need to be harmonised and / or standardised and systems aligned. There are several existing initiatives and standards that are already providing information of different sustainable development flows and key sectors or priorities. They need to come together to exchange experiences and lessons learned and work on the interoperability of their data sets in order to help build a comprehensive picture of where (sustainable) development finance comes from, where it goes and what it delivers.
  3. Data and information have to be of good quality so that it can be used and reused by a broad range of actors and compared across the board.
  4. Information and data supply have to be paired with the active promotion of data use by different stakeholders.
  5. It was also raised, that it can be useful to have a sense of the financing needs for the expansion of open data supply and use.

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