The aim of the UN World Data Forum is to spur data innovation, nurture partnerships, mobilize high-level political and financial support for data, and build a pathway to better data for sustainable development. Since January 2017, the Forum’s community has grown from 2,000 people who attended the first and second Forum in Cape Town, South Africa and Dubai, United Arab Emirates to active list of over 20,000 interested stakeholders. This growth in interest was due to the more open and accessible Forums held virtually in 2020 and as a hybrid format in Bern, Switzerland in 2021 and in Hangzhou, China in 2023. The stakeholder community represents a diverse range of governments, civil society, the private sector, donor and philanthropic bodies, international and regional agencies, the geospatial community, the media, academia, and professional bodies.

Every UN World Data Forum has resulted in the release of an outcome document to chart the progress of discussions around data and statistics and express the ambitions of the stakeholder community. The Cape Town Global Action Plan (CTGAP) was launched at the first UN World Data Forum on where to focus statistical and data capacity development efforts to establish the full range of reporting and monitoring needed to measure progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The CTGAP was followed by the Dubai Declaration (2018) calling for an innovative funding mechanism to support the implementation of the CTGAP; and more recently the Global data community’s response to Covid-19 (2020) and Bern Data Compact for the Decade of Action on the Sustainable Development Goals (2021) on how official statistics and National Statistical Offices (NSOs) position themselves during Covid-19 and then in the wider data ecosystem generally. At the most recent fourth Forum in April 2023, the Hangzhou Declaration was launched to recommit the global community to accelerating progress in the implementation of the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data and called for a renewed commitment to work with all partners in the data ecosystem to drive innovation, trust, partnerships, use and impact and investments in data and statistics.

The next Forum is planned in Medellín, Colombia to take place between 11 and 14 November 2024.