Open Data and Climate Change: Experiences from the Americas

Perspective on the state of open data, climate information, and governance models in 6 countries in the Americas

Open Data Charter
6 min readJun 5, 2024


By Renato Berrino Malaccorto, Research Manager, Open Data Charter,

Photo by USGS on Unsplash


In late 2022 and early 2023, Open Data Charter (ODC) collaborated with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to conduct research on the different models of climate data governance organisation and publication from an open data perspective in 6 countries in the region (Chile, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Panama, Colombia and Barbados). We sought to understand how the different agencies are organised internally when it comes to generating and reporting the data that countries need to report under the Paris Agreement mechanisms and to cross-check this information with the status of their open data policies.

The general objectives at which these efforts were aimed were focused on:

  1. Improving transparency and access to information for citizens and encouraging the use of this data by citizens;
  2. Reducing the costs and time required for reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;
  3. Support the formulation of public policies;


For this, and sequentially, different tools were used that sought to survey and identify the main laws and all the sectors involved in the analysed topic, and the methodologies for the construction of collaborative open data processes to ensure greater and better governance of climate data.

The sources of information for the regulatory framework and construction of the maps and their subsequent analysis included:

  • Review of official documents, namely UNFCCC reporting documents, international agreements and local regulations on climate change, especially with a focus on the intersection of access to public information and open data.
  • Review of comparative regulations of the countries that are part of the study on transparency and open data: Law on Access to Public Information, Open Data Regulations, Transparency Law, and similar.
  • Landscape of the general state of data openness based on the Global Data Barometer and standards of the Open Data Charter’s Open Up Guide on Climate Change, as well as the survey of web portals in each country.
  • Analysis of international indices.
  • Interviews with those responsible for the implementation of open data policies (open data office, or open government, or transparency, or public innovation, or similar) in the countries included in the study, and Environment and Climate Change where contact was possible.
  • Review of press releases through different media, including alternative media, local blogs, social networks.

The structure of the research was presented by first analysing in a general and introductory way the international regulatory context on climate change with a focus on access to public information and open data; the identification of governance structures in each country studied; and the general state of open data and climate information.

We thank consultants Laura Neirotti and Ana Pichon Riviere for their valuable collaboration.

General conclusion

As a corollary to our internal research, it can be said that the majority (5 out of 6) of the countries analysed have policies on access to public information, open data and international commitments on environmental issues. At the same time, the openness agenda has been strengthened by adherence to international commitments, such as those related to open data, transparency and Open Government, through the Open Government Partnership, or alliances with the Open Data Charter, and assessments such as ODRA’s Guide to Open Climate Data.

In the cases analysed, we have seen how governments generate information and data related to climate change that are not necessarily in open format, which represents a limitation for proper accountability to citizens, and creates a blockage to potential instances of reuse that could feed back into public policies. The Paris Agreement, in its articles 12 and 13, proposes innovative instances of awareness-raising, citizen participation and access to information, while establishing the Enhanced Transparency Framework. Openness of information in open formats, together with innovative mechanisms for participation and re-use, can be an ideal way to meet the objectives of the Agreement. It is therefore of utmost importance to reinforce and anchor countries’ data reporting efforts, and to support them in the governance required to strengthen reporting mechanisms and the enabling conditions for transparent processes.

It could be said that there is no single governance model that works for all cases, however, commonalities can be found to promote and strengthen this agenda, which emerge from the experiences developed so far, the challenges identified and the strategies put forward:

  • Regulatory framework to rely on
  • Clear obligations
  • Coordination policies
  • Standardisation of processes
  • Capacity building
  • Periodic evaluations
  • Community building and partnerships

Finally, beyond mere compliance with data and information publication obligations, it is important to emphasise the virtuous circle that reuse processes entail. In this sense, the added value that ecosystem actors can generate to produce new services and products is key when considering a dynamic governance model that manages to involve a diversity of actors in the processes of production and use of information.

The way forward: recommendations

Based on the challenges and consensus identified about desirable next steps, and with the understanding that the different governments studied have a variety of practices that can be considered good practices to share and replicate, the following recommendations were outlined:

  • It is essential to redouble efforts to manage a coordinated data transparency and openness plan that ensures the availability of standardised, indexed and easily accessible data.
  • Work on standardisation processes and data quality improvement according to international standards. It is also important to document the entire production process for institutionalisation.
  • Review governance models to redefine and delimit responsibilities and harmoniously articulate between the different bodies responsible for the production and publication of data and public information.
  • Creation of centralised sites or repositories that facilitate access to data by citizen users, as well as the monitoring of their quality and updating.
  • Use common tags/tags that allow easy access to environmental information on any portal, and thus facilitate usability and comparability, both internally in each country and to facilitate regional or global comparison.
  • Carry out periodic internal or external evaluations in order to generate information that feeds the public policy process with a logic of continuous improvement
  • Identify current and potential users in order to build a community of use and demand. Conduct stakeholder mapping and engagement strategies to strengthen the data user community. It is key for countries to identify the demand of the user public, and ideally this should be done early in the process.
  • Promote instances of exchange and training with the user community to encourage the reuse of data (workshops, hackathons and datathons, civic innovation competitions, etc.). It is important to encourage reuse, receive feedback and synergies from citizens, and continue to move towards openness (closing the feedback loop). The development of APIs, as we have seen in some portals, is key to encouraging and facilitating reuse.
  • Within the government, it is essential to develop strategies to raise awareness and build the capacity of public agents.
  • Evaluate interoperability models, and design pilot tests in small projects that are scalable.
  • Work on a review and assessment of existing regulations in the national context, and on adapting or updating regulations if the need is identified.
  • The inclusion of available information on climate change and other environmental issues in the open data governance model could strengthen climate governance by broadening access to other stakeholders and strategic allies.

‘Towards Enhanced Climate Ambition: Transparency and Digital Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean’.

The research served as input for the publication coordinated by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), entitled ‘Towards Enhanced Climate Ambition: Transparency and Digital Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean’.

We mainly contributed empirical information for the chapter ‘Open data, digitisation and opportunities in the climate change agenda’.

The full report is available at this link in Spanish and this link in English.

Open Data Charter looks forward to continuing to collaborate to establish clarity and guidance for governments wishing to improve their publication of climate-related open data.



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