by Zach Christensen
Representatives of the international community met in Addis Ababa (12-16 July 2015) for the Third Financing for Development Conference. This meeting is a pivotal moment for the post-2015 agenda and the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. It is the moment when the international community needs to go beyond talking about data and show definitive commitment to high quality, disaggregated, open, accessible, regular data.
While moving from rhetoric to action may not always be easy, there are some knowledge resources available. To provide guidance for policy makers at Addis and beyond, Open Data Watch and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network have written, Data for Development: An Action Plan to Finance the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. The report makes the case that the international community and national governments should mobilize about $1 billion per year to build statistical systems to track the Sustainable Development Goals.
The report summarize insights on why data matters, where policy changes have worked, what tools are needed to track the SDGs, and how aid can best be delivered to finance statistics. International donors are challenged to take action and increase their support for statistics. International donors and national governments will both play a key role in financing the data revolution. Domestic resources should cover half of the estimated costs of the data revolution in the lowest income countries.
However, we know that development is about much more than aid. Together, national governments and international donors should take three specific steps to realize the potential of the data revolution:
- Ensure there is adequate public financing for core national statistical systems to enable SDG monitoring.
- Enhance and broaden the data instruments and tools used for SDG monitoring.
- Commit to a data revolution for sustainable development, encouraging innovation, while respecting the leadership of national statistical offices and systems.
Much has been written about the need for better data in development. Countries are poised to adopt the proposed Sustainable Development Goals and with them the need for more disaggregated, timely, comprehensive data. But none of that enthusiasm will matter unless action is taken to truly revolutionize the way data is produced and used for sustainable development.