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Towards Effective Data Systems for the Sustainable Development Goals

By Ms. Andrea Ries Padmanabhan, Senior Policy Advisor, Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation • 10 November 2021
Uploaded by GPEDC • 10 November 2021

Serious data gaps

There is no doubt that timely, complete and reliable data are essential for designing policies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave no one behind. In spite of this importance, data availability is not a given. There are serious data gaps in assessing country-level progress towards SDGs. Although 91% of national development strategies that were approved after 2015 referenced the SDGs, only 35% of developing countries reported having data and systems to track the implementation of national strategies. 

 

The scope and potential for more effective support to data and statistics

To accelerate progress on data availability for development, Switzerland, as the Co-Chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) has prioritized effective support to statistical capacity and data. The work of Global Partnership seeks to contribute to a dialogue about how all stakeholders to development co-operation can collectively approach the strengthening of country-level data and statistical systems in a more coherent and effective manner. 

There is significant potential to leverage existing coordination mechanisms between countries and their development partners, especially by examining how national statistical offices (NSOs) can play a more prominent role in the national development dialogue. 

 

Lessons from countries’ data coordination mechanisms

In June 2021, the Global Partnership hosted a virtual roundtable with the Bern Network on Financing Data for Development for countries to share good practices and challenges to address data and statistics financing in development co-operation in Africa. 

 

Government officials from ministries in charge of planning and development co-operation, and representatives of national statistical offices from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali and Rwanda presented their structures and mechanisms for coordinating data financing in development co-operation. They shed light on ways to more effectively resource data and statistics, both domestically and through support from development partners.

 

Coming from these diverse experiences, the following emerged as common good practices that can support effective data coordination and statistical co-operation:

  • Fostering strong political buy in and inclusion of data and statistics as a political priority for development.
  • Building transparent coordination platforms that clearly state roles and are inclusive.
  • Developing plans that align short, medium to long term objectives that cover priority national policies with global goals and a realistic budget to facilitate buy in and implementation.
  • Looking and planning beyond the NSO to the national statistical system as a whole, which includes other ministries and national agencies that produce statistics.
  • Include the development of core statistical capacities in the national development plan and address resource needs in the dialogue with development partners.
  • Developing a broad range of skills for effective coordination and development co-operation both with external and national partners, which include leadership, communication, diplomacy and advocacy.
  • Aiming for better monitoring of financing for data and statistics specifically to improve visibility and understanding of resourcing.

 

These lessons are broadly useful for all countries facing data and statistics capacity challenges. For more information, an outcome note of the roundtable is available, capturing the key findings from countries’ presentations in further detail, to serve as a knowledge-sharing resource.

 

Launch of the Clearinghouse for Financing Development Dataat the UN World Data Forum

The global statistics community gathered at the UN World Data Forum in Bern to address pressing issues faced by the global data and statistical communities around data delivery for evidence-based policymaking. There is a vibrant conversation happening with exciting developments that the Swiss Government is supporting. This includes the launch of the Clearinghouse for Financing Development Data, developed by members of the Bern Network. The Clearinghouse is an online platform to help countries, donors and development partners identify funding opportunities, bring projects to scale, advocate for support to data and statistics and connect to new partners. 

 

Next steps towards effective data systems for SDGs

The Global Partnership will organise additional workshops with partners to reach consensus on a joint and coherent approach for stronger data and statistical systems in developing countries. Insights will help formulate a set of actionable GPEDC Principles for Effective Co-operation for Data and Statistical Systems. These principles will be presented at the 2022 Summit on Development Effectiveness of the Global Partnership.

 

Photo credits: ©UNDP Guinea Bissau / Gwenn Dubourthoumieu