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What is the Data Values Project?

We are working together towards a world in which data is used responsibly to produce a more equitable, fair and sustainable future for all. 

We are building a global policy consultation and bringing together diverse and often underrepresented perspectives, research, and experience on major data challenges, leading to joint advocacy based on a common manifesto for action to achieve this vision.

What problems is the Data Values Project trying to solve?

We are tackling wide-ranging issues and challenges relating to data use, ethics, rights and governance: 

  1. Growing global inequalities are exacerbated by digital technology and data. 

  2. Data and technology use is outpacing regulation.

  3. Too many people—whether by accident or design—are invisible in data.

  4. There are deep-running power imbalances at all levels. 

  5. Government capacity is lacking, and public trust in data sources and sharing is low.

  6. There’s a lack of coordination locally, regionally, and globally across governments, research institutions, civil society, and private companies.

What is The Data Values Project aiming to achieve? 

These are complex and multifaceted issues. Our goal is to establish where common consensus exists and significant divergences remain in policy positions on data. Where consensus is strong, we believe that common messaging and outreach can provide clarity and encourage actions by governments, businesses, and other data holders to achieve more equitable outcomes. 

Why now? 

The datafication of society and implications for equity and opportunity are among today’s most important issues. Yet there is no unified advocacy for pathways to unlock the opportunities of data, while guarding against the potential harms and putting people at the center. A lack of clarity, regulation, and common agreement on how to protect people’s data rights contributes to rising inequality and insecurity. The challenges posed by Covid-19 to communities, societies and economies make the need for action to unlock the power of data for all more urgent than ever.

What is the timeframe for this project? 

The project kicked off in early 2021, with an open dialogue that draws together key players from the public sector, the private sector, regulatory and legal bodies, international institutions and civil society. Our plan is to launch white papers in 2021 for discussion that will culminate in the launch of a manifesto for action next year, charting a practical path forward on a normative agenda for data access and use. 

Beyond 2022, we will put these recommendations into action to leverage data for a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive world.

What makes The Data Values Project different? 

We are global, spanning countries and sectors. This project is about surfacing diverse perspectives on how people, communities and societies use data, bringing key stakeholder’s voices into dialogue that grounds conceptual analysis in real-world experience. 

We are open and inclusive. Through an open consultation process, we will develop overarching policy positions that have broad support and are anchored in the real experiences of our partners, and then leverage the power of our network to launch a compelling advocacy campaign.

We embrace and accept the messiness and the fault lines. There will be issues where consensus can’t be reached yet. We’ll continue to foster rigorous debate, bring diverse perspectives to the table and surface the important work being done by our partners to build understanding and advance action.

Who is behind the Data Values Project? 

The project is led by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data’s Technical Advisory Group, a unique convening of experts spanning a diversity of sectors and geographies. This group provides sectoral expertise related to open data, statistics, citizen voices, big data, earth observation technologies, remote sensing, and more. The Global Partnership includes a network of nearly 300 partner organizations

An open consultation phase across Spring/Summer 2021 is looking to engage and mobilize a diverse range of partners and champions across geographies, bringing together research and policy expertise with the practical experiences of people wrestling with the difficult daily trade-offs of developing and implementing data policy. 

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Updated August 25, 2021.