How to create modern data systems for sustainable development

August 12th, 2019, Published in Articles: PositionIT

Eradicating poverty and hunger, ensuring quality education, instituting affordable and clean energy, and more – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lay out a broad, ambitious vision for our world. But there is one common denominator that cuts across this agenda: data.

Without timely, relevant, and disaggregated data, policymakers and their development partners will be unprepared to translate their promises into reality for communities worldwide.

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) contributed to the latest report from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics to help shape a roadmap for governments to improve their use of data for the SDGs.

Here are ten recommendations from the report “Counting on The World to Act: A Roadmap for Governments to Achieve Modern Data Systems for Sustainable Development”:

  • Countries should review their legal frameworks or statistical legislation to fully integrate the use of new data sources in the official statistical system.
  • Governments should pursue partnerships with city-level actors, universities, and local civil society groups to support local government capacity for developing SDG-aligned monitoring frameworks and other data activities.
  • Governments should call for reform of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) to ensure more focus on and resources allocated to addressing data gaps and capacity issues, as well as a more inclusive governance structure which invites in expertise from non-governmental groups.
  • Governments should call for the UNSC to take on a broader mandate, providing guidance and setting standards on data across the whole statistical system, including facilitating data sharing with non-governmental partners.
  • Countries should promote a culture of open data, integrating principles of open data into their statistical legal framework and ensuring that adequate resources and capacities are in place to fully implement open data practices within the statistical system.
  • Governments should look to examples of successful public-private data sharing agreements to tease out good practices and encourage frequent replication of public-private partnerships, with legal support and advice offered by the international community.
  • Governments should support the implementation of the UN Environment Programme’s proposed new digital ecosystem to support environmental monitoring and the broader sustainable development agenda. This would involve creating a new incentive structure and infrastructure to encourage private actors who currently monopolise digital technologies to share their information.
  • The international community, coordinated by a more inclusive UN Statistical Commission, should build platforms to make international data sources, supply side innovations, and methods more accessible to countries.
  • The UN Statistical Commission (and its High-level Group) should form a shortlist of eight to ten clear, compelling goals that motivate the global community to invest in data, while also encouraging governments to track overarching progress in building inclusive and modern national data systems.
  • International donors should agree upon a set of common operating principles, based upon the Paris, Accra and Busan Declarations on Aid Effectiveness, to help improve the efficiency of donations and investments in data and statistics, particularly in low-income countries.

Download a copy of the report here: https://bit.ly/2ZTxWlP

Contact GEO, secretariat@geosec.org

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