First impressions of the new UN data revolution group

By Jeannet Lingan, Publish What You Fund.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon last week announced a new independent expert advisory group on the data revolution.

As an organisation that has been vocal in its support of the data revolution from the start, Publish What You Fund very much welcomes this initiative. It is great to see the UN paying attention to the discussion around the importance of high quality information to drive sustainable development efforts.

Our new Road to 2015 campaign (launched in July at the UN Development Cooperation Forum) is all about harnessing the power of open data to create meaningful change. It seeks to raise the profile of transparency and accountability in the post-2015 agenda – and we hope the creation of this group is an indication that the conversation is moving forward.

A lot of organisations have been talking about the data revolution in the past year, and there seemed to be general confusion over how the post-2015 agenda would address the issue. We hope the group will help bring clarity on this issue, and help define the positive outcomes this revolution has the potential to bring.

The expert advisory group will input to the Secretary General’s synthesis report on the Sustainable Development Goals, contributing specifically on chapter 4 (the accountability framework). We will be happy to contribute to their discussions and inputs, and will engage with the group as part of our Road to 2015 campaign.

With that in mind, we hope the advisory group will:

1.Produce recommendations on how to enhance access to information;

2.Focus on the users of this information, when discussing more and better quality information on sustainable development financing and results;

3.Draw on the potential that new technologies offer for transparency and accountability and how can we make it more accessible to different stakeholders.

The data revolution must by its nature be inclusive if it is to affect change. As such, I would have liked to see more civil society represented in the panel. Nevertheless, there has been a lot of work done by many actors in the transparency field, so I hope this will be a great opportunity for us all to share best practice and work together.