A campaign encouraging UN Member States to support an International Decade on Data.

Data has tremendous potential to stimulate development and economic growth, minimize inequities, and drive innovation.


Yet, we face significant challenges in harnessing data for the global good. 


These challenges include:

Growing data asymmetries – in terms of availability, quality, infrastructure, and capabilities

Competing interests around the protection and opening of data

Limited consensus on what responsibly unlocking the value of data for all
means and how it can be operationalized

A new sense of urgency is required to ensure the benefits of the digital
age are not captured by a few at the expense of the public interest.

Establishing an International Decade on Data for People and Planet could provide a mission-driven process and vision for international data cooperation that can stimulate international investment, bridge capacity gaps, leverage specialist expertise in the private sector, and reduce barriers to data sharing.

What are international decades?

United Nations ‘International Decades’ provide a multi-stakeholder, multilevel, and multidisciplinary architecture to support collaboration in domains of international concern.

Previous International Decades have been used to expand access to safe drinking water, accelerate the protection of our oceans, and elevate the voice of people traditionally marginalized or left behind.

A call for an International Decade on Data was referenced in the report of the High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism (HLAB) released in 2023. Appointed by United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, the HLAB identified concrete, actionable recommendations to support a radical shift in our approach to global governance. See Shift Four on Digital and Data Governance

More on why we need an International Decade on Data

This working paper by Lorrayne Porciuncula argues that a call for an International Decade for Data should be seen as a resounding call to action for global leaders to set a transformative agenda; an agenda that acknowledges the interconnected nature of data’s potential and underscores the collective responsibility to wield it conscientiously.

This working paper by David Passarelli, Muznah Siddiqui and Alona Savishchenko, makes the case for an International Decade for Data, covering the period 2025–2035 – and representing a global commitment to improving consistency and coherence in the data policy landscape. 

The focus of Stefaan Verhulst’s working paper is to highlight the importance of data in shaping our future and the UN SDGs and the critical need for a strategic, ethical approach to its use. It encourages a global, collaborative effort – an International Decade of Data – to redefine data governance, ensuring that it serves not only the interests of powerful entities but also upholds the rights and freedoms of individuals and communities across the world.

In a commentary article published in Fortune, UNU Rector Tshilidzi Marwala and UNU-CPR Director David Passarelli make the case for governments and the United Nations to stay ahead of the curve of innovation by initiating an International Decade for Data. The authors describe how data-driven technologies are shaping how we live and highlight the risks of society splintering into AI ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ if we do not do something about it.

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The Datasphere Initiative is a global network of stakeholders fostering a holistic and innovative approach to data governance to build agile frameworks to responsibly unlock the value of data for all.