G20/OECD/UNDP International Conference on Open Data: Enabling inclusive, sustainable and robust growth - Opening remarks


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Antalya, Turkey

14 November 2015

(As prepared for delivery)



Deputy Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.


It is my pleasure to join the UNDP and the Turkish Presidency of the G20 to welcome all of you today. Open data is an important part of the toolbox to achieve our goal of promoting robust and inclusive growth.  


Thus, the G20 must capture the exponential progress in digital technologies and the data revolution to deliver benefits to all segments of society.


Governments around the world are seized with the need to meet the challenge of inclusive growth. Better health outcomes, higher job satisfaction, equal access to educational opportunities….all this requires:

  • Governments that are capable to open up and innovate;
  • Governments that can work across sectors and jurisdictions, and
  • Governments that can collaborate with a number of diverse actors, in order to respond to citizens’ expectations in more agile, creative, and pragmatic ways. 


These are the conditions necessary for governments to design and implement policies in more inclusive ways, which deliver more inclusive outcomes.


The use of open data and big data to enhance public engagement in policy design and in services design and delivery, to crowdsource input and knowledge, to better understand citizens’ needs, to empower individuals to take more informed personal decisions, are all instrumental ways for opening up and innovating policy making.


Technology is changing how people interact, how they make decisions, how they buy, how they travel. It is changing the way they live.


Technology has also changed what people expect from their governments. Citizens increasingly expect governments to be agile in adapting to the new digital environment, to make sound decisions based on data and to release open data for other actors to make sound decisions as well.


But technology and data are not ends unto themselves: it is about how they are being used and who they reach.


The release of government data as open data, in combination with an increased availability of digital technologies, can play a crucial role in ensuring the whole policy-making cycle is more inclusive and transparent. 


It is a strategic tool to support the sharing of resources, information and knowledge. It reinforces evidence-based policy-making to effectively respond to cross-cutting challenges and anticipate new problems as we deal with old ones.


It can also help us find innovative solutions to existing problems, deliver services in new and easier ways and steer and implement policies more effectively.


It can also foster accountability and transparency of the public sector. This is particularly critical in times where citizens’ trust in our governments is weak.  This is why I would like to congratulate the Turkish Presidency and Mexico for taking the lead in pushing this important agenda in the G20.


But what are we talking about concretely? What is open data and what are the visible results for our citizens? I am sure our speakers today will touch upon those practices but let me give you a few examples:

  • One from my country: Mexico. It built a hydro-meteorological portal based on open data from the national weather service. The portal provides real-time updated information on the meteorological conditions in the country. This was particularly useful when hurricane Patricia hit, because it allowed the authorities to better prevent and manage those risks associated with natural disasters: to issue an immediate public warning in case of danger and to instantly engage local communities in this emergency situation. In fewer words: this kept people alerted and engaged!
  • Another excellent innovative example comes from Germany. Its use of public sector data and crowd collaboration contributed to the successful web service and smartphone apps “Wheelmap”, which helps people with reduced mobility get around in cities. Routes, places and transport options are labelled in terms of their ease of access for people with wheelchairs. The service is now being expanded to other countries like the UK.


But we are also conscious of the challenges.


If inappropriately opened up, data may increase confusion, infringe privacy, endanger security, duplicate efforts, cause inefficient spending and lower trust towards public institutions.  Countries are increasingly interested by these questions.


While keeping open minds, we must find a good balance between openness to experimentation and managing the risks that come with it.


Only recently, Poland and Mexico engaged in Open Government Data Reviews with the OECD, taking concrete steps towards finding new and better ways of using data in the public sector to foster innovation.


The OECD is quite aware of these needs and to support these efforts:

  • We launched the Open, Useful and Re-usable Data index - OURdata Index -  that helps countries assess the availability, accessibility and re-use of their open government data.
  • The OECD Recommendation on Digital Government Strategies helps government focus on fostering data-driven public sectors not only to achieve higher efficiencies, but also to foster more open and innovative governments that deliver social and economic benefits in more equitable manners.


We know that there are differences among countries’ open data national systems, including with regard to the use of technology as a critical element.


But despite the differences in our systems, we can identify effective practices and principles that can apply in diverse situations to better capture the data revolution opportunities while addressing the associated challenges.


This approach supports the work that is being led internationally to raise our ambition and help countries achieve their specific goals.


The G20 efforts in this regard, are a case in point. I mentioned it earlier: Open Data is also part of the anticorruption toolbox. The G20 Anti-Corruption Open Data Principles which our Leaders will endorse tomorrow reflect the highest standards in the G20.


This was not easy to achieve as 20 countries have 20 different approaches and 20 different systems. But they also had a shared goal.  The OECD will now help them identify the good practices and lessons learned around the impact of open data for anti-corruption.


These deliverables will promote interoperability and equivalence with existing efforts such as the International Open Data Charter that was recently launched during the General Assembly in New York.


In this occasion, in adopting the SDGs, the international community also recognised the significant impact open data can have with respect to the next development agenda.


Many of you have been involved in these different efforts. The discussion you are having today will contribute to ensure that they are mutually beneficial to best capture the value of open data from all perspectives.


To conclude, I would like to underline the importance of implementation. This is one of the 3 Priorities of the Turkish Presidency and for good reason.  Particularly in the case of Open Data, showing that it is possible to implement it and to engage all stakeholders in the society to foster re-use of data to deliver value, is of utmost importance.


The OECD OURData Index is a tool at your disposal and we invite you to work with us to make it even more useful to increase the benefits and impact of Open Data for our societies.


For example, we have here today representatives from two of our member countries who appear doing pretty well in our Index: Korea and France. Why are they performing so well? Because they both focused their efforts on creating the conditions for delivering the value they expect from Open Data: they did so by strengthening implementation and prioritising value creation through collaborations with non-institutional data re-users like civil society, private sector, social entrepreneurs, etc.


Ladies and gentlemen, let’s seize the opportunity to demonstrate our collective ambition - as governments, but also as business and civil society – to use better open data for better lives.


Thank you.