Released 20th June 2013

G8 leaders have committed to implementing transparent strategies to report pollution levels and energy consumption through the Open Data Charter, signed by all G8 countries this week.

Environmental protection is one of the key targets cited in the charter that can be achieved through the use of open data. This is arguably the most important climate change-related commitment, as under the environmental umbrella comes natural resource use, extractive industries and conflict minerals, positive governance and budget allocation.

The agreement splits data into a number of sectors, two of which are ‘Earth Observation’ and ‘Energy and Environment’. This means that the G8 Leaders have committed to implementing transparent strategies to report pollution levels and energy consumption and other areas of concern in sustainability such as forestry and fishing.

The Open Data Charter will be applied through several streams; local, public sector, regional, national and international. Business will hold an instrumental role in the innovation and implementation of strategy to achieve this.

The commitment acknowledges that transparency can lead to new insights and innovations, as well as general awareness to improve business practice and governance through the correct use of free information internationally.

Governments will now seek advice from organisations and businesses for the ‘what’s, how’s, and when’s’ of open data.

There are already a large number of organisations concerned with reporting standards, many of which have emerged from business lead international transparency initiatives; but something more concrete will need to be decided upon for the global standard for each sector to ensure validity and comparability.

The most solid statement in the charter laid out the agreement that members would increase the supply of open data on the ‘key functions of the States’; democracy and environment. The countries pledged to identify datasets in these areas by December 2013, with an aim to release them within one year.

In the press conference after discussions had drawn to a close, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I commend the NGOs and charities that have been campaigning for openness and transparency… it is a cause I have long believed in.”

The charter states that open data ‘sits at the heart of a global movement’ and contains the potential to enable greater accountability, efficiency and growth.

June 21st, 2013

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