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The Role of Data in the Sustainable Development Goals

By Tara Newton, Communications Associate, BID Initiative

Sep 16, 2015

Posted in

This week, heads of state will adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations General Assembly. What role will data play in implementing and measuring these goals?

In the article Data is Key to Successfully Implementing the SDGs, the authors stress that without “reliable and easy-to-understand data on all international financial flow,” those responsible for achieving the SDGs won’t know which countries need more resources, what resources they need, and how they will be financed. International agencies and organizations have varying accounts of data on low-income countries and “accuracy of the numbers of course depends on the capacity of the country in question to collect and report on them.”

Photo: UNDP in Burkina Faso.

Photo: UNDP in Burkina Faso.

The authors also discuss the data revolution recognizing, “We have more opportunities than ever before to collect and produce high-quality data providing the right information on the right things at the right time, and in ways that are accessible to everyone.”

To further the agenda for development data the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, discusses the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data in their recent report:

Another key step will be the establishment of a Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, to help drive the Data Revolution. This Partnership can bring together public and private stakeholders to fill gaps in our knowledge, establish global norms and standards to increase the ease and security of sharing and using data, help countries develop robust national strategies for data development, and—crucially—help mobilize urgently needed financial resources. If adequately resourced, a Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data would empower countries around the world to make the SDGs a real management tool for sustainable development.

The United Nations notes, “There is a need to take urgent steps to improve the quality, coverage and availability of disaggregated data to ensure that no one is left behind,” and at the BID Initiative, we couldn’t agree more.  

We understand the critical role data quality and use has in improving health outcomes and are pleased to see its importance continuing to rise on the global agenda. We look forward to monitoring the conversation around the role of data and the SDGs as the week progresses at the United Nations General Assembly.


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