To reach the Sustainable Development Goals, we must confront a crisis at the heart of many of the world’s most pressing challenges — a crisis of poor data. Limitations in data production, quality, access and use are stunting the fight to overcome global challenges in every area — from health to gender equality, human rights to poverty, education to energy and beyond.
But change is underway. Robust and powerful data ecosystems are emerging, bringing together official statistics, administrative data, big data — especially in the private sector — community- and citizen-generated data, earth observations data and more. And yet, the world has been slow to capitalize on this data revolution in part because it requires working across historic silos in unconventional and disruptive ways.
The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (“Partnership”) was launched in September 2015 alongside the UN General Assembly to help stakeholders across countries and sectors fully harness the data revolution for sustainable development. It is a network that convenes, connects and catalyzes action to address the problems of poor data use, access, quality and production. It aims to link and align action, capacities and resources across geographies, sectors and data communities.
Specifically, the Partnership aims to:
- Ensure the prioritization of data on global, regional and national political agendas and build broad constituencies for data-driven action.
- Foster multi-stakeholder collaboration, innovation, knowledge sharing, capacity building, resource mobilization and alignment.
- Advance data access and interoperability mechanisms and standards.
As an independent, open and multi-stakeholder network of more than 150 data champions, the Partnership represents a broad range of data producers and users, including governments, companies, civil society groups, international organizations (including UN entities), academic institutions, foundations, statistics agencies and data communities.
Together, they work toward a world where data is used more effectively by:
- Governments for policy-making and service delivery, including better aligning budgets to needs.
- Citizens making decisions that affect their lives and holding governments accountable for their commitments.
- Businesses to drive entrepreneurship, innovation and efficiency.
Approach to project funding
Numerous members of the Global Partnership provide monetary and in-kind contributions, including staff time, technology, advice and other assets. Major funding has been committed by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Ford Foundation, International Development Research Centre, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the World Bank and US government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The Partnership has just announced a Pilot Fund for Collaborative Data Innovations with initial support from the World Bank Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building.
Tools and resources used for implementation
The Partnership is exploring a marketplace approach to remove the barriers to producing, sharing and using data as well as connecting demand and supply for data products and services. The beta version of a digital component of this marketplace will be unveiled on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2016.
The Partnership is supporting the development of multi-stakeholder, whole-of-government Data Roadmaps for Sustainable Development at national and sub-national levels by facilitating local workshops, providing resources and expertise, and facilitating connections to data experts. These country-led roadmaps diagnose data gaps and map out the steps to address them, with a particular emphasis on SDG achievement and priorities articulated in national plans.
The Partnership’s Data4SDGs Toolbox provides resources to governments and other entities eager to advance Data Roadmaps for Sustainable Development. It is organized into modules that national and sub-national actors can draw on. The toolbox will be further refined and expanded over time based on user feedback.
The Partnership is also helping to produce greater coherence in existing funding instruments, identify funding gaps and advocate these gaps be addressed. Its inaugural “State of Sustainable Development Data Funding” report, unveiled at UNGA 2016, maps investment opportunities.
As a network rather than an operational entity, the Partnership expects to contribute to progress towards intended outcomes rather than being able to attribute progress to any one of its outputs or deliverables. It will employ a mixed-methods approach to monitoring and evaluation: Progress against the outputs, intermediate outcomes and goals will be tracked on an ongoing basis against a set of indicators, and supplemented by qualitative feedback from users, Partnership members and other stakeholders.
Results, and lessons learned, will be communicated via the Partnership’s website, network of data champions, national Data Roadmaps workshops and other high-level gatherings and meetings around the world.