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The week after the revolution…still counting.

By Dr Claire Melamed, Independent Expert Advisory Group Secretary

It’s just over a week since we launched ‘A World that Counts’.   The day itself went by in a flash – from the (very) early morning skype calls, via a press conference at the UN Spokesperson’s briefing, to the 11th hour arrival of the printed reports and the moment of actually handing over the report to the UN Secretary-General. The day was rounded out with a packed briefing with UN member states, and a reception in New York showcasing the global data revolution in action.

So that was that.  Now what?   As we say ourselves, ‘revolutions do not begin with reports’, and the same is true of press conferences and parties.  What matters is what happens over the next weeks and months as the ideas and proposals in the report start to percolate through into the thinking and actions of those who have the power to create change.  How is it going so far?

Secretary-General Meets Co-Chairs of the Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Date Revolution for Sustainable Development.One week on

Well, firstly we’ve had great deal of interest in the report, with over 5,000 people downloading or reading it online so far, and higher demand than we can meet for physical copies from UN missions and IEAG members hosting their own data revolution events.

There have been at least 25 blog posts and articles written about the report over the past few days. I expect there are more to come, but one week on seems a useful moment to summarise the responses so far to A World That Counts.

We’ve had a lot of political support for the report, with  warm words for the report from the South African ambassador to the UN, arguing strongly that action should be taken to, as he put it ‘end the scandal of invisibility’.  The Tanzanian mission was also supportive, calling the report ‘timely and compelling’, and saying ‘its relevance cannot be overstated’.  The Peruvian, Brazilian and Mexican missions also welcomed the report, agreed it was very useful, and the Mexican mission in particular wanted us to get straight on with the idea of creating SDG data labs to start working out how to measure and monitor new goals.  Many others have said to us privately how much they like the report and support the recommendations.

The central message of ’A World that Counts’, about the huge inequalities in data availability and use between countries, people, and public and private sectors, were well represented in the press coverage:  in the Financial Times and the Economist, and in Corriere della Serra.

Mostly civil society has been supportive – though inevitably many people wanted us to go further.  We all welcome this – it’s important that people keep raising the level of ambition.  There’s still a long way to go and this is just the beginning.

Most of the criticism was directed at the short consultation period – our explanation (and apology!) for that is here.  There is also an interesting debate developing on two issues – the first is the relative role of individuals and organisations in using data for accountability.  Some criticised the report’s focus on data for people in general, arguing that it is civil society organisations that are really in the best position to make use of data, while others, in contrast, wanted us to talk more about increasing people’s capacity to use and collect data.  A second emerging debate  concerns the relative weight that should be given to international processes and national level organisations as the drivers for change – is it right to focus on the SDGs as the opportunity, or should the report have talked more about a broader set of national level opportunities and processes?

The organisations that work in the area of transparency and open data varied in their responses to the reports’ approach to standard setting.  For some, it was the aspect of the report they particularly welcomed, while others thought that we should have gone further.

The group and the secretariat are all delighted at the interest and debate that the report has generated.  The discussion – and the disagreement in particular – is how ideas are tested, and refined, and improved.

But the talk, however invigorating, is not the final indicator of success.  Success will come with action not with words.  This is the next phase. Watch this space.

Top image: The Independent Expert Advisory Group meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to handover their report on a data revolution for sustainable development.
Second image: IEAG Co-chair presents the report to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

9 Comments

  1. A job well done by this great individual’s. For “DATA” to be completely revolutionize, United Nations and its implementing partners should take another direction by integrating Information and Communication Technology in the educational system of the underdeveloped countries around the globe.

  2. It is pertinent to note that the Data Revolution Report states clearly – This Report is not about how to create a Data Revolution – it is already happening – but how to mobilize it (Data Revolution already happening) for Sustainable Development. It is an Urgent Call for Action (at Sub-national, National, Regional and Global Levels) to (effectively support) the aspiration for Sustainable Development and avert risks, stop and reverse growing inequalities in access to data and information and ensure that the promise of the data Revolution is realized for all ( Citizens in the over 200 UN Member Countries and Non UN Member Countries, particularly the over 2 Billion World Poor, many of whom are women and children not only in Developing Countries but also in Developed Countries). Bracket ours.

    Can IEAG Members and Secretariat effectively support all relevant Stakeholders in Operationalizing in Practice this Statement, without supporting them to find answers to Data Revolution How Questions specific to each Stakeholder, fully implementing these answers with effective monitoring and evaluation of this implementation?

    We participated in the Global Consultation leading to the preparation of the Data Revolution Report. We commended the IEAG Members and Secretariat for good work done in delivery on its ToR and for circulating the Draft Report for comments before releasing the Final Data Revolution Report.

    We were waiting for information on release of the Final Data Revolution Report on 6 November 2014 from the website or UNDP Report Office. When we got none we approached SDKP Team and SD2015 through CIVICUS for information. Neither UNDESA nor CIVICUS gave us information until 12 November when we were advised to visit the Data Revolution website for copy of the Report. Incidentally it was on the same day that it occurred to us to visit the website, so we got the information shortly before the advice from SD2015.

    On perusing the Data Revolution Report, we were disappointed that the Final Report, like the Draft Report did not include answers to Data Revolution How questions, yet practical answers to these questions were submitted by at least two contributors during the Global Consultation. We expressed our disappointment by complaining to UNDP Report Office. We are still awaiting response to this complain. As Eva Jespersen, Deputy Director UNDP Report Office is IEAG Member, we are concerned that the response is delayed.

    The IEAG Secretariat is aware that a contributor, upon reading the Draft Data Revolution Report after nudging by us, expressed appalling disgust at its Business as Usual Model when it could have adopted a New Vision Model and declined further comment to enrich the Final Data Revolution Report. We raised this point in our above complain and noted we have probably wasted valuable time working within the tight timeframe to make further comments to enrich the Draft Data Revolution Report some of which were reworked and most of which were rejected in the Released Final Data Revolution Report.

    We have today received Newsletter from UNDP Report Office including information on latest HDialogue on Data Revolution. Why is it the case that email is not sent to all who have made contributions to the Global Data Revolution Consultation, whenever there is an update on the website? It will be recalled that many who made contribution were not aware that the Draft Data Revolution Report had been released. We got information that the Draft Report was ready for comments through UNDP Report Office. Is it helpful for information on Draft / Final Reports within any SD2015 / UN Initiative to be released in this way?

    The above article by Dr. Claire Melamed, IEAG Secretary describing events on 6 November 2014 before and after the Data Revolution Report was released as well as raising Now What? And How is it going so far? Issues are welcome.

    Criticism is an inappropriate word for certain responses to Reports such as this at Draft or Final Stages. A more appropriate word is Comment. While Dr Melamed’s article noted criticism / comment on several issues that need to be revisited in continuing Data Revolution Consultations – Data for People, People’s capacity to use and collect Data, Relative weights given to International Processes and National level Organizations as Drivers of Change etc, it is a puzzle that this section of the article did not include issue of Practical Answers to Data Revolution How Questions. Why is this serious omission the case?

    We wait to see how IEAG Members and Secretariat can achieve increasing convergence between Data Revolution Vision Intention and Reality without fully implementing with effective monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of answers to Data Revolution How Questions submitted by at least two contributors during the Global Consultation leading to the release of the Data Revolution Report on 6 November 2014.

    As long as IEAG Members and Secretariat do not shift focus away from Talking and Thinking and shift focus towards Action and Opportunities, this Data Revolution Initiative will have failed to learn lessons of history and will be doomed to fail like past similar initiatives. Allowed to occur, the cost of failure of this Data Revolution Initiative could be catastrophe for over 200 UN Member States and Non Member States in our World today, given increasing possibility of Global Economic Recession that make the Recession of the 1930s’ child’s play and increasing Terror Attacks Worldwide. These Catastrophes are avoidable if the IEAG Members and Secretariat will Do the Right Thing and on Time.

    • Dear Mr Rotimi
      Thank you for your attention to UNDP Human Development Report Office newsletters and HDIalogue and your correspondence regarding the report prepared by the International Expert Advisory Group on the data revolution.

      The IEAG created a website http://www.undatarevolution.org which was announced by the IEAG co-chair at the 26 September consultation, and we included this link in the HDRO newsletter and HDIalogue on the data revolution. We also forwarded your comments to the IEAG Secretariat as they compiled and reflected on commentaries made to the draft.

      The http://www.undatarevolution.org website is still available and you may want to submit piece on how your agency can contribute to make the data revolution work for your constituencies.
      Sincerely
      Eva Jespersen

  3. Dear Ms Jespersen,

    Thank you for your kind comments. Your point “We also forwarded your comments to the IEAG Secretariat as they compiled and reflected on commentaries made to the draft” is confirmation that our Complain has substance. It is a puzzle that despite this UNDP Report Office Prompt Action, the above article by Dr. Claire Melamed, IEAG Secretary omitted to address fundamental issues raised in our Complain. Why is this the case?

    On your point ” you may want to submit piece on how your agency can contribute to make the data revolution work for your constituencies,” this has been made clear in our private contribution to the Global Consultation before the Draft Report was circulated and private contribution to enrich the Draft Report after its circulation.

    A Major contribution is this regard is our suggestion that the IEAG Secretariat be made permanent to serve as Global Coordinating Internal Consultants; that Competent Firm that can work under blended Commercial and Not for Profit arrangement be appointed Global Coordinating External Consultants and that all who have contributed ideas and suggestions that have been harvested and included in the Final Data Revolution Report be meaningfully involved in the implementation of the Report Recommendations as well as the monitoring and evaluation of this implementation within their areas of competence, that is Hard Competence – Learning and Skills and Soft Competencies – Character, Courage and Mindset.

    We wait to see how the IEAG Members and Secretariat can reject these ideas and suggestions and related ideas and suggestions put forward by Lanre, Robert and others we do not know, yet hope to find correct answers to Data Revolution How questions.

    Let us be clear, the IEAG Members and Secretariat did excellent job on Data Revolution What and Why questions; processing this into a Draft Report and demonstrated Openness inviting comments before publishing Final Data Revolution Report. Their Shortcoming and Drawback is that the Draft Data Revolution failed to address Data Revolution How questions despite contributions from at least Lanre and Robert.

    Our comments on the Draft Report sought to correct this lapse. However, in reworking our comments to produce Data Revolution Model IEAG Members and Secretariat is / are interested in, rather than Data Revolution Model that is in the interest of achieving increasing convergence between Final Push to achieve MDG by 2015 and Post 2015 Development Agenda Vision Intention and Reality, IEAG Members and Secretariat have erred. Do they accept they have erred? Are they willing to correct this error?

    We have no intention or power to force IEAG Members and Secretariat to accept our answers to Data Revolution How questions. Should they delay or deny correct answers to Data Revolution How questions, the probability is high that Bright Prospects of Success implementing Data Revolution Report Recommendations, from Village to Global levels in each of the over 200 UN Member Countries and Non Member Countries in our World today, will be Squandered.

    If this failure is allowed to occur, the ultimate consequences could be catastrophe for all Citizens in both Developed and Developed Countries in our World today, particularly the over 2 Billion World poor, including Women and Children that UN Claim to Serve.

    In view of the above, it is up to IEAG Members and Secretariat to respond positively to our earlier private Complain and our later public Complain.

  4. The Tanzanian mission was also supportive, calling the report ‘timely and compelling’, and saying ‘its relevance cannot be overstated’.

    5th Class Date Sheet 2015 PEC

  5. As offices close for the festive season and others offer skeletal services, we wish all Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2015.

    We are concerned that IEAG Secretariat has not responded to our private and public complains. We note that the Synthesis Report released 4 December 2014 include some of the recommendations in the Data Revolution Report released 6 November 2014. Yet each of the Reports address What and Why questions without addressing How questions.

    Fundamental issues raised in these World Bank Blog Posts
    http://blogs.worldbank.org/governance/government-numbers-how-big-problem-gaming#comment-779

    http://blogs.worldbank.org/governance/government-numbers-how-can-we-solve-gaming-problem#comment-778

    underline urgent need for IEAG Members and Secretariat to address key issues raised in our private and public complains.

    It is our hope that the inter-dependence, inter-connectivity and inter-linkage between correct answers to Data Revolution How questions and correct answers to Synthesis Report How questions will be better appreciated, to avoid repeating past flaws and failures.

    Once more, we wish all Merry Christmas and Prosperous 2015.

  6. Dear Moderator,

    We are concerned that our last Post was not published. The Post did not violate any existing Rule. Can you please tell us why it was not Posted? We urge that you please ensure that it is Posted without delay or you tell us in clear language why it cannot be published.

    IEAG Members and IEAG Secretariat have to make up their mind – individually and collectively; to make Choice between pursuing Data Revolution they are interested in and Data Revolution that is in the interest of helping in practical ways to achieve increasing convergence between Final Push to achieve MDGs by 2015 and Post 2015 Development Agenda Intention and Reality.

    If they Chose the former, they can afford to ignore our Complain – Public and Private.

    If they Chose the later, we wait to see how they can Perform and Deliver on their Mandate, Mission and Vision without addressing effectively, effectively and on time; all fundamental issues we have consistently raised on this and other Platforms.

    Of course, Choice made (no Choice is a Choice) by IEAG Members and IEAG Secretariat will greatly determine Results achieved in the implementation of Data Revolution Report Recommendations in 2015 and beyond.

    Our Prayer is that IEAG members and IEAG Secretariat make Choice that Result in Data Revolution that achieves Great Success on Sustainable Basis rather than Choice that Result in Data revolution that has flaws and failures recorded in similar Past Interventions.

    We wish you all happy and prosperous 2015.

  7. Dr Claire Melamed,

    We refer to our public and private contributions on Data Revolution.

    It will be recalled that the Data Revolution report was released on 6 November 2014. The Report noted that a Data Revolution is already going on but much more needs to be done. The Data Revolution Recommendations largely addressed What and Why questions but was silent on How questions as well as Fighting Corruption questions, despite the fact that our contributions addressed these Gaps.

    In response to the issues raised on this Thread started by you, we once more raised the need to fill these Gaps. It is a puzzle that rather than addressing the points we raise, activities on this Thread and indeed the entire Data Revolution activities geared towards implementing Data Revolution Recommendations, have gone to sleep and this underline urgent need for IEAG Members and Secretariat to Wake Up and without further delay.

    It will be recalled further that the Synthesis Report on Final Push to achieve MDG by 2015 and Post 2015 Development Agenda, included many of the Data Revolution Report Recommendations. This is a credit to the IEAG Members and Secretariat. However, the Synthesis Report like the Data Revolution was silent on How Questions and Fighting Corruption.

    It is sad that 3 months after release of Data Revolution Report and 2 months after release of the Synthesis Report How questions are yet to be addressed which is bad and adopting One Worldwide Approach as recommended in Synthesis Report is not yet a reality, which is worse.

    We once more call on IEAG Members and Secretariat to tell us in clear language if the issues we raise and the Model we have set out are of no interest to them.

    However, if the issues we raise and the Model and Approach (3PCM) indeed is of added Value and capable of supporting IEAG Members and Secretariat to achieve increasing convergence between Data Revolution Intention and Reality, then let the constructive engagement move towards including How Questions and Fighting Corruption in Data Revolution Report Version 2.

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