About the project

Joining up data standards is a vital part of turning more data into better information to drive sustainable development. Development Initiatives and Publish What You Fund have teamed up to explore the challenges of joining up standards, work with partners to find common solutions and build international consensus that all data should be joined up.

Data has immense potential to help drive poverty eradication and sustainable development. Turned into information, data enables a better understanding of development challenges and how to design, implement and monitor more effective policies to address them.

The problem: loads of data; too little useable information

While more and more valuable data is becoming available, much of it can’t be turned into useful information because it is being published in different formats and to different standards. At the moment it is incredibly difficult to create information that can be used for decision-making and accountability as this requires the ability to join up data across areas such as money, people and results. This lack of joined-up data can even have life-threatening consequences where, for instance, aid workers are unable to match financial and material resources against needs and conditions during an emergency. More often than not, people can see snapshots of what is going on, but not the whole picture.

The solution: joining up data standards

To solve this, this growing wealth of data needs to be compiled and published to standards that make it more easily comparable and interoperable. This is not about creating new standards, but enabling existing and future standards to join up. To get there, we need technical solutions and political will. This is why Development Initiatives and Publish What You Fund are working to identify priorities and technical approaches for joined-up data. At the same time, we are building support and raising awareness of the need for standard setters to work together. All of this is being done in close collaboration with standard setters, data producers and data users.

Enabling data standards to align better will unlock the potential of data to create better information. It will give decision-makers and those holding them to account a more holistic picture of needs and resources to drive sustainable development.

About DI

Development Initiatives works to end absolute poverty by 2030 by making data and information on poverty and resource flows transparent, accessible and useable. We help decision-makers use information to increase their impact for the poorest people in the most sustainable way.

We work at every level: supporting local partners in East Africa and Nepal to use data; informing national and regional decision-making through analysis and presentation of information; providing technical and political support that can help improve international systems.

About Publish What You Fund

Publish What You Fund is the global campaign for aid transparency. Our mission is to achieve a significant increase in the availability of comprehensive, timely, comparable and accessible information about development flows. We understand how and when to bring technical and political conversations together in order to drive change and are regarded as a leading organisation on advising on the development and implementation of open data standards. We believe that progress towards increased development effectiveness is impossible without transparent information about aid; more high-quality data are needed in order to improve cooperation, democratise decision-making, empower citizens and ultimately reduce poverty.

Across the two partner organisations, the multidisciplinary project team brings together experts on data architecture, open aid data standards, and collective action to promote transparency and multi-stakeholder collaboration.


Omidyar Network has generously contributed US$1 million to support our efforts. But we need more support to achieve our aims and invite any parties interested in contributing to our work to contact us.

Key project contacts are:

Conrad Zellmann, Head of Access to Information, Development Initiatives

Project lead with overall oversight and coordination of all aspects of the project

Email Conrad Zellmann


Beata Lisowska, Data Scientist, Development Initiatives

Data Scientist leading the mapping work in the thesaurus and maintaining the website

See Beata’s blogger profile 

Email Beata Lisowska


Tom Orrell, Senior Advocacy Advisor, Publish What You Fund

Senior Advocacy Advisor leading on communications, external relations and stakeholder engagement

See Tom’s blogger profile

Email Tom Orrell