Published in Sustainable Development Policy and Practice in November 2014
Numerous civil society groups and academics focus on efforts for a global data revolution for the post-2015 development agenda, in recent blog entries, open letters, and reports. The stakeholders offer commentary on the work of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development (IEAG), among other initiatives, and suggest recommendations for further analysis.
The results of the Post-2015 Data Test, conducted with the involvement of Southern Voice, UN Foundation and others, are presented in an article by Debapriya Bhattacharya and Kate Higgins, titled ‘Unpacking the Data Revolution at the Country Level – Initial Findings.’ The Data Test, in which countries teams assessed the availability of country-level data for measuring the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), shared the initial results of its work at events in New York, US, in October 2014. The findings emphasize that the next development agenda should be universal, while giving space for country differentiation and national priority-setting. It also highlights that data availability and quality are variable, while little data is disaggregated by income or social group. Finally, the study reports that “global minimum standards” are not relevant in high-income countries, nor achievable in low-income countries.
Four key “take-away” messages from the Post-2015 Data Test are highlighted in an article by Rachel Quint and Sarah Lucas: countries have a long way to go to meet technical data needs; combining global and local targets would be complicated, but could work; the post-2015 architecture will need to take into account political incentives; and intra-governmental dynamics will significantly impact goal-setting and implementation.
Beyond 2015 and Participate issued an open letter to the IEAG. It stresses the need for a “transformation in the way that data is monitored, analyzed and reported,” calling for a combination of qualitative research and quantitative approaches. The letter draws examples from the health, education, and disaster risk reduction (DRR) sectors, emphasizing that qualitative research is more participatory and can better empower marginalized communities.
The International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) issued a briefing document on demographers’ perspective in designing the data revolution. The brief calls for: identifying points of intervention where demographers can contribute to the post-2015 development agenda; recommending significant investments in methods and training; and considering forming oversight groups or high-level panels to investigate further the issues of SDG measurability, validity, data quality, availability, and national statistics capability, among others.
The Partners for a People-Centered Data Revolution group, in an open letter, call for data to “go beyond measurement” by putting information into the hands of people and making institutions more accountable. The Partners offers six recommendations: ensure data is turned into information for policy making and action; address gaps in capacity to produce, use and interpret data; make the case for the instrumental value of data; close the gap in harmonization between data collection methods and standards, and strengthen statistical methods; Implement a Global Partnership for Development Data; and build political leadership to invest in and use data.
An article by Emma Samman, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and José Manuel Roche, Save the Children UK, explains the need for ‘A Data Revolution to Match the Ambition of “Leaving no one Behind.”‘ The authors stress the need for data to assess the most marginalized and disadvantaged groups, and say household surveys to collect data are insufficient in this regard. They recommend using community-based mechanisms and mobile technologies to “make people the agents of data collection.”
The IEAG launches its report on 6 November 2014. [Publication: Unpacking the Data Revolution at the Country Level – Initial Findings] [Publication: Four Key Takeaways from the Post-2015 Data Test’s Presentation of Initial Findings] [Beyond 2015/Participate Letter] [IUSSP Briefing Document] [Partners for a People-Centered Data Revolution Open Letter] [Publication: A Data Revolution to Match the Ambition of ‘Leaving no one Behind’] [IEAG Website]