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  • on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development
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Sustainable Development Goals: measuring progress on new indicators and for all groups

The consultation has ended and comments are closed.

The Millennium Development Goals, agreed by world leaders at the turn of the century, have been hugely successful in galvanising focus and resources to help eradicate poverty, reduce child mortality, combat diseases and more.  They also encouraged investments in data, as national governments and international organisations tracked progress on agreed indicators.

For a government to plan and monitor the impact of its policies, it must be able to benchmark data and see year on year progress. Comparing progress across countries is important – shared indicators and statistical frameworks help countries see how they are doing in comparison to others.  As the 2015 deadline for the MDGs approaches, the international community has started to work on a new development framework of ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs)

maternal mortality fell 45% since 2000Tracking progress on new goals will increase the demands on often hard-pressed National Statistical Offices to collect and analyse data in new areas. This in turn will require increasing resources for the statistical system and building statistical capacity, with the support of the international community.

A new set of goals offers an opportunity to increase resources and innovate to fill new data gaps.  The Independent Expert Advisory Group will make recommendations that will support agile and effective analysis of data on Sustainable Development Goals. The Group welcomes input on innovative monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals. This might include participatory methods; monitoring inequalities, eliciting citizen feedback on performance of service providers; perceptions data; tracking progress in any of the new areas likely to be covered in the SDGs; citizen generated data.

We welcome inputs on:

  1. Specific ideas for new technologies or approaches that can be used to fill data gaps likely to arise from new goals.
  2. How participatory and qualitative methods of data collection can be used together with new and existing quantitative approaches to enhance understanding and improve policy and accountability.
  3. Ways of collecting and communicating disaggregated data to ensure that the inequalities which hamper progress for particular groups are better known and understood.
  4. Examples of how new information technologies and existing data infrastructure can be brought together or used in parallel to produce improved development data.
  5. A critical assessment of what worked and what did not work in measuring progress on Millennium Development Goals, especially focusing on the bottlenecks and how to overcome them.
  6. Means of implementation and funding to fill critical gaps in the production, dissemination and use of statistics, including introduction of new forms of data and methodologies
  7. Suggestions on future-proofing SDG measurement to ensure that the system can respond to emerging technology and data sources
image: maternal mortality rates, millennium development goals


  1. for us working at the village level, we want a suggested operationalisation of the sustainable development goals at the village or community level. any suggestion or good practice from other context will be very much appreciated. we also would like to ask for a much better access to the proceedings and result such as not to heavy pictures and colours so we could easily open the website even when connectivity is low.

  2. As it currently stands, SDG no. 12.5 encourages companies, especially large listed companies to monitor and report on social and environmental impact, alongside financial reporting, in a transparent, open and timely manner. Data plays a crucial role in this process because measuring and reporting on progress informs companies themselves, allows governments to monitor progress and investors to provide capital for the implementation of sustainable practices. In this case, eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is emerging as a suitable way reporting this type of data alongside the financials of a company and would be a practical way to implement this goal based on existing and commonly used frameworks.

  3. A data revolution would be incomplete without making the necessary and crucial changes to data collection, compilation and analysis by including information on internally displaced persons. Very often governments ignore or omit the, sometimes, large universe of data on this marginalized group of people to avoid risking a bad report card. Without this information, the global score card on sustainable development will always be skewed. This is not only true for countries in conflict or humanitarian disasters, but also for countries who do not come under this radar, such as gulf countries or China who claims to have halved poverty through economic measures but carrying out marginalizing (including violence) tactics the Muslim minorities.

    IDP data ought to be part of the larger data framework on sustainable development.

  4. BIG DATA WILL BE AN ENABLER for: e-Healthcare, e-government, e-Commerce, e-Education, energy and transportation systems, global communications, etc.

  5. Kirsten 10-10- 14
    I would like to see big data linking human and natures systems through the SDGs. This will help us to project and plan for the future well being of humankind as we face the impacts of climate change and population growth. The quantification of coupled ( human and nature) systems is critical to the survival of the human species because it will provide the evidence to underpin the required rapid action to ensure that future generations inherit a viable planet.

  6. We need to create infrastructure for gathering data about nature and sustainable development paths, patterns and processes in a crowd sourcing module. We need User friendly data gathering platforms, which could be made use by any community around the globe through respective governments or cooperatives. Data gathering platform templates should be designed and websites also prepared and there should be user friendly way of making the platforms localized in respective languages, so that data gathering becomes easier. There should be internships for students from school and undergraduate level to engage in managing the localised platforms as well as the field level data gathering. Also there should be suitable recognition for people who are engaging creatively and productively in all these endeavor.

  7. On-Line Student World Barometer, Rapid-Mass Student Survey’s& Data Collection & Intelligence:

    We have the opportunity to do something extra-ordinary:

    We can build a student outreach network which will allow UN (SDSN) to rapidly carry out mass survey’s over the globe:

    Our additional goal is to develop an on-line (student) barometer – across the regions and universities- on their opinion on the state of the world, and the Sustainable Development . 1)

    Add-on intelligence systems , apps & tools, including interviews, research and reports.

    Good reasons for this proposal:
    Unexplored market potential
    Opportunity to give students a “new voting voice” in international affairs: democracy at our finger-tips.
    Opportunity for Leaders (clients) to see survey results – and in order for agenda setting or decision making
    Opportunity for educators to learn from global student population (state of thinking, opinion polls)
    Opportunity to expand on survey’s with additional intelligence or services.

    Students: – Member of a global community of collective opinion or sense making. Global Citizens; Opportunity to par-take in events. Survey research.
    Universities/ Educators: New form of collective intelligence on student population and on Global & Local Issues
    UN Agencies: Ability to rapid-mass survey a key and target group of the world population: students.
    Venture Team: Fun. Can be created and realized relative easy. Connects a couple of interesting app’s (google platform). Helps the mother practice: Energy For One World and it’s customers/partners such as UN SDSN and PartnershipforChange

  8. No one can even predict the number of ways in which a data is useful. More importantly data are now becoming a building blocks for being prepared for what is comming and also for taking crucial decisions.In this era of information age usage of data in hospitals is one of the roles that a it can play very efficiently.A doctor will have more clearer view of the patient through the previous data he will see in regard of his health. And there can be also a probability model that can somehow equip us to face epidemics like ebola.In a concluding note I would suggest that the prescription of a patient should be made more stratified and well managed so that this data not only help him but it will also help us in showing up the upcomming danger.

  9. I would like to invite the Independent Expert Advisory Group to consider the use of extensive indicators instead of intensive ones. The former depend on the size of the system and can be added; the latter, that are the result of a ratio of two extensive indicators, are not function of the size and cannot be added. When dealing with sustainability only extensive indicators should be used since an improvement of intensive indicators by itself does not mean that the situation is improved. For example a decrease in carbon intensity has been going on for decades in USA but the amount of GHGs emitted have always increased.

    This is not exceptional but due to three reasons:

    1. A mathematical reason. A ratio can (for example) decrease even if both the numerator and the denominator increase, even if they increase with the same rate. This is the reason for the US carbon intensity decrease while the GHG were increasing.

    2. An economic reason. As already stated by Jevons in the XIX century, when efficiency increases there is a “rebound effect”: since more efficiency means that a resource becomes cheaper, the resource will be used more than before. This is valid for any kind of efficiency and therefore a pure improvement of efficiency is not sufficient for a sustainable use of resources. On the contrary there is a strong possibility of a Jevons’ paradox in action.

    3. A physical reason. Mathematically X/Y is equal to 10X/10Y, 100X/100Y, and so on. From a physical viewpoint the three situations can be very different when sustainability is concerned: since we have to face the limits of living in one planet the use of a resource or the emission of a pollutant in amount X, 10X or 100X are totally different conditions, regardless the denominator, since the capacity of Earth of producing resources or accepting emissions remain the same.

    For these reasons intensive indicators are not able to follow the behavior of one country (or region) in time, but only to compare countries, more for curiosity than for a real achievement of the SDGs. For this scope the use of extensive indicators should be chosen.

    • I completely agree. I want to add that debt money (in terms capable of being added!) shoud be included for seeing what is happening with debts in the modern world. Individual, institutional and nationals. In brut quantities and also as a % of salaries. Money is generated from debts ( SO, SUTAINABILITY WILL NEVER BE ACHIEVED BY INCREASING MONEY (GDP) IF DEBTS KEEP ACCUMULATING. This is simple mathematical reasoning. We need to generate other way of creating money. We need ALL COUNTRIES to think on this, idealy from here to the next Global Environmental Meeting of september 2015 to be held in Paris, France. SDGs are strongly dependent on natural resources use and this use is interacting with environmental issues.

  10. All steps of the project should support the development goals. All materials used in the data creation and storage processes should be sourced from sustainable production, including recycled materials.

  11. When it comes to the implementation of the SDGs — we need to be seriously thinking about data alignment. i.e. if the SDGs are going to be relevant to business, as well as to local, regional and national decision makers then we need to see where the overlaps and gaps are as to what is already reported and what needs to be reported.

    Measure What Matters (#mwmatters) is a global initiative run by the Green Economy Coalition ( in partnership with Accounting For Sustainability; the Stockholm Environment Institute; Global Reporting Initiative; International Institute for Environment and Development and Stakeholder Forum.

    With statisticians and data leaders we are exploring how performance metrics at the corporate, national and global scales can be aligned — so that the SDGs can become relevant at different levels of implementation.

    We are running a series of global consultations on the question of alignment. We have less than a year until the SDGs are agreed. Make your voice heard.

  12. “Open source” data collection technologies should be at the centre of the data revolution (although not, of course, obscuring the true purpose of the revolution: accountability, transparency, and impact assessment). Engage programmers and designers from around the world to build an interoperable, user-friendly, localizable, and open source system for collecting and sharing data that can then be customized and localized by data gatherers (i.e. local and national governments and international donors) and data users (scientists, journalists, citizens, and governments of all levels) – into multiple global languages. Such a system would have to be bare bones, and work functionally with technologies of all level. It could have apps and interfaces that would allow for data mapping and sharing, and for detailed analysis. It would also lend itself to APIs, allowing multiple actors to access data to fulfill accountability and transparency needs. This would also ease pressure on countries with limited statistical capacities, and support transparency needs.

  13. Making sure that individuals on the ground can benefit from the data collection is really important – see the work of the NZ Data Futures Forum, particularly the positive feedback loop described in paper three

  14. Hello there,

    I found this document on Scribd and thought you might like to read it.

    The below report explains an approach to monitoring which has been inspired
    By enterprise architecture and interoperability research.
    The proposition is to achieve “lean monitoring”

    A multi-level monitoring and evaluation standard in health care systems – exploring the option
    Jan Goossenaerts

    • The above report is recommended as an input for 6 Means of implementation (wrote it on the train this morning, so it was a bit clumsy comment).
      It applies the concepts of enterprise architecture in a society wide manner.

      My follow on work has included the proof of concept “Actor Atlas” which specifically responds to concern 3 – amongst others by introducing #isic and #cofog hashtags for all economic activities and all functions of government in all countries of the world.

      With respect to possible data gaps (concern 1) I wish to refer to the three kinds of indicators highlighted in work on monitoring human rights: structural, process, and outcome ( )
      and the possibility to use a results framework of the kind illustrated at (just proof of concept) – e.g. structural indicators are related to macro and meso levels in the social architecture.

      Regarding 2 it will be critical to make the data pertinent to problems perceived by the constituency – a general framework of ensuring that data is in the loop is the “regulative cycle” which is explained on tab 5 of

  15. We are surprised to see that the expert group is lacking environmental experts, which will give unbalance in the data revolution. We hope this fact will be considered and environmental experts and groups will be actively approached and invited to be part of this group.

  16. People living with and affected by HIV, in particular women and girls living with HIV and other key populations including people who engage in sex work, men who have sex with men, people who use drugs and transgender persons face stigma, discrimination, criminalization and violence across the world. Young people in these groups are particularly affected. Marginalization and exclusion based on HIV status, age, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation as well as attitudes and cultural norms around “appropriate” sexual behaviour pose a major barrier for people to access the quality health services they need. It also prevents them from being empowered to realize their human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights. It will be impossible to achieve the end of AIDS and sustainable development without your leadership in ensuring that the full realization of human rights, the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health and rights, and a strong emphasis on reaching those most marginalized will be included in the post-2015 Framework.
    It is crucial that efforts are focused where the AIDS epidemic is concentrated. This requires:
    • Specific attention to key populations as part of the ending AIDS target
    • Specific attention to marginalized populations as part of the universal health coverage
    target and the sexual and reproductive health target
    • Stronger attention to the specific health needs of young people under the health goal, in
    particular young marginalized people
    • The inclusion of universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights under the
    health goal
    • Adequately addressing stigma, discrimination and human rights violations due to HIV status, age, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation in the post-2015 Framework.
    • Recognizing the strong role of community-based organizations and health workers to deliver services to the most marginalized and to advocate for their rights.
    In addition, the post-2015 Framework should reflect that there can be no effective AIDS response without universal access to effective and affordable medicines for HIV and HIV co-infections, which requires amongst others the inclusion of a reference to the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities to deliver affordable generic drugs.

    As a civil society working group and as individual organizations we have extensively engaged in the post-2015 process, consultation and events in the past two years and have invested substantial energy and resources to influence the Open Working Group Outcome Document. We feel strongly that the current goals in the Outcome Document should remain as they are and provide the basis for further strengthening the targets as outlined above and shaping the indicators at global and country-level to measure progress towards achieving the new goals. We stand ready to work with you in the lead up to 2015 and thank you for your commitment to date in promoting a post-2015 Framework that leaves no one behind.

  17. The Post-2015 CSWG supports the language of “Ending AIDS” in the OWG outcome document and we would like to see targets on HIV, universal access to sexual and reproductive health and universal health coverage. We also think that what is critically required is language about “reaching the most vulnerable first”; otherwise key populations are likely to be excluded, even though they are the key to ending the AIDS pandemic.
    The realization of the full range of sexual and reproductive health and rights is critical to all of the worthwhile aims in the post-2015 development agenda. SRHR are key to reducing maternal mortality, tackling gender inequality, reducing HIV infection, and improving treatment access. The vulnerability of women and young people to HIV is linked to their limited access to SRHR. More than half of people living with HIV are women, 40% of all new HIV infections are among young people, and AIDS remains one of the leading causes of death among women of reproductive age.
    We therefore recommend the inclusion of targets and indicators that measure the full realization of human rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights. We also ask for an indicator on access to life-saving medicines. We believe that this will help us, together, to realize the end of the AIDS epidemic.
    We affirm the Post-2015 CSWG’s willingness to support the United Nations in reaching out to civil society, governments and policy makers for their input, and we are committed to working with the United Nations and other partners to see the end of AIDS become a reality.

  18. Geo-referencing statistical information adds an enormous amount of value to data and a new level of disaggregation. Knowing WHERE poverty, hunger, unemployment, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, etc. resides or is most severe, and how it changes in both space and time is a powerful tool to adress inequality and effectively fulfill the new generation of development goals. The data revolution should include geospatial information to be truly innovative and transformative.

  19. The EFA Global Monitoring Report tracks progress towards the Education for All goals using both administrative and survey data. Here are our comments:

    (1, 3 and 4) In the education sector, existing data mainly track entry, participation, retention and completion of students, at different levels, in the education system. The main need for new data arises in outcomes such as early childhood development, learning outcomes at primary and secondary education, and a range of skills and competencies for youth and adults, including literacy. Unfortunately, technology cannot substantially accelerate data collection in these areas. ‘Big data’ collected by the private / non-state sectors, while exciting, are unlikely to be relevant in the near future for most countries, many of which are still grappling with the basics of quality data collection.

    (6) Most of this work, especially if it is to produce disaggregated statistics, will need to be based on household and/or school surveys. Currently, there is insufficient financing that would ensure coverage of all countries with surveys in the above mentioned areas in frequent and regular intervals and allow for coordinated treatment of key issues. Costing up the amount needed to reach the proposed targets in education post-2015 must include costing of the additional capacity needed to deliver the data that will enable us to monitor progress in outcomes for all groups, on a frequent basis. Having said that, some recent estimates have wildly exaggerated the total cost of such survey work and risk undermining the effort to mobilize solid support for statistics.

  20. UN organs have had good annual reports on World Development Indicators and Human Development Indicators. However there is no well-organized indicators for sustainable development.
    Can UNEP or World Bank groups request countries who apply financial subsidy or aids program must have their environmental quality improvement indicators listing in their Environmental Improvement Plan or National Comprehensive Development Plan with clear statistics of current year and goal year?
    Indicators can include:
    (1) % of days when PSI is higher than 100
    (2) average noise volume in residential zones (daily frequency of more than 65)
    (3) Length ration of high pollution in major rivers
    (4) ratio of unpolluted drinking pipe water
    (5) growth rate of collected refuse
    (6) ratio of refuse appropriately treated
    (7) appropriate treatment ratio of refuse produced by business
    (8) % of population served by sewerage system (or toilet treatment system)
    (9) decreasing rate of pollution (as compared to base year) . sub-indicators can be: (i) total suspended particulates PM 10, (2) SOx, (3) NOx, (4) NMHC, (5) CO, (6) PB.

    Council for Economic Planning and Development of ROC in Taiwan had set those goals in its National Comprehensive Development Plan in 1996. Unfortunately, the report was not published due to complicated domestic reasons, including interwoven relationship between government and business sectors, greedy land developers and no more foreign aids. Therefore it is possible to make above indicators. The key factor is whether UN and world leaders have strong will in doing so for saving the earth.

  21. The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is pleased to have the opportunity to submit a response to the Independent Expert Advisory Group on Data Revolution’s consultation. We welcome the creation of this Expert Group, whose mandate is to advise the Secretary General on the measures that need to be taken to close data gaps and strengthen national statistical capacities.
    For the data that is collected to be meaningful and reflect the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it must:
    1. Be based on human rights principles
    2. Ensure that currently invisible inequalities and neglected issues are measured and understood, through data disaggregation and the collection of new data.
    3. Be openly accessible to ensure that citizen and civil society organisations (CSOs) are able to use it to promote transparency and accountability

    1. Be based on human rights principles
    For the SDGs to bring truly meaningful sustainable development to communities, the framework must be human rights based and build on the core concepts of participation, equality and non-discrimination, universality and accountability. The data framework that will accompany the SDGs must be no different; it is imperative that it reflects these core principles through its monitoring framework, including through ensuring that:
    • data collection and use is ethical, respecting the rights and dignity of research participants.This includes ensuring that those sharing information are aware of the purpose of that information and have access to it.
    • data collected reflects and monitors international human rights norms and can be used to track state compliance with human rights instruments;
    • data collection is conducted in a way that allows for the participation of a cross-section of the community, including the most vulnerable and marginalised, and that members of the community have the opportunity to participate in the process to determine what data should be collected, and how it is collected and used
    • data collection reflects the differences in experience and attainment in certain groups, including those who are vulnerable and those whose comparative disadvantage may have been previously unrecorded
    • data is published and disseminated, and that individuals have access to the data that is collected and are able to use it to monitor state compliance with commitments
    • data frameworks clearly indicate the duty bearer responsible for the collection, analysis and publication of data, as well as the duty bearer responsible for addressing gaps and limitations in data and performance

    2. Ensure that currently invisible inequalities and neglected issues are measured and understood, through data disaggregation and the collection of new data
    The SDGs and the related post-2015 discussions have focused on the need to ensure that the data framework accurately measures the progress being made against the goals and targets for all groups and not just those who are the easiest to reach and measure. Central to this is the principle that – as the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons argued – “targets will only be considered achieved if they are met for all relevant income and social groups.” To achieve this goal, there must be a data revolution in two places: firstly, the gaps in the data collection framework must be identified and rectified, and secondly existing data must be disaggregated across key groups to ensure that variations within groups and communities are (?) reflected.
    The previous Millennium Development Goal framework identified the gaps in data collection, some of which have been addressed in the intervening years such as around violence against women. However, many gaps still remain. The data framework around sexual health and sexual rights, including on comprehensive sexuality education and cervical cancer, is still weak and it is difficult to assess state compliance on realising sexual rights. Further, many groups are left out of data collection programmes and thus their experiences are rendered invisible. Though the nature of these groups will vary in different contexts, some key groups who are more frequently excluded include: young people, undocumented migrants and their families, sex workers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. For the data revolution to be meaningful and adequately reflect the diverse reality of our full world, it is imperative that these gaps in data collection are identified and addressed through more robust information collection mechanisms and human rights based approaches to populations.
    Existing data sources should also be disaggregated by key characteristics to reflect the experiences and needs of key groups. This will highlight the impact of programmatic interventions on all groups, and ensure that the needs for all groups are met, not just those that are the easiest to reach. IPPF supports the Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s position that:
    “Preference should be given to indicators that lend themselves to disaggregation by (i) characteristics of the individual or household (e.g. gender, age, income, disability, religion, race, or ethnicity) ; (ii) economic activity ; and (iii) spatial disaggregation (e.g. by metropolitan areas, urban and rural, or districts).”
    This level of disaggregation – coupled with a requirement that a target must be met for all groups to be considered successful – will ensure that the new framework will truly be able to reach the most marginalised and vulnerable. Further, it will also ensure that the framework does not exacerbate inequalities by encouraging programmatic interventions that target the easiest to reach and neglect the most vulnerable which can actually increase the inequalities between groups.

    3. Be openly accessible to ensure that civil society organisations (CSOs) are able to use it to promote government accountability
    Accountability has been central to the discussions on the post-2015 framework and it is clear that citizens and CSOs have a key role to play in ensuring that governments meet their commitments under the new framework. To be able to play this role in a meaningful and efficient way, CSOs must have access to relevant and up-to-date public sector data through platforms such as Open Government Data that would allow them to track progress, identify gaps and call for greater investment or attention in particular areas. In this way, IPPF supports the view of the Transparency and Accountability Initiative that “In a well-functioning, democratic society citizens need to know what their government is doing. To do that, they must be able freely to access government data and information and to analyse and share that information with other citizens.” The sharing of this data gives CSOs the information that they require to effectively track and monitor the performance of the government. For CSOs to be able to consistently access this data, we recommend that governments support the principle of Open Data and to publish in accessible technologies and formats the data that is being collected and used.

  22. Inputs from Amnesty International

    Amnesty International recognises the importance of information for effective delivery monitoring and accountability in the Post 2015 framework. It is imperative that governments guarantee the right to information held by authorities which is relevant to the enjoyment of their rights. Giving effect to this right would strengthen peoples’ ability to participate in decision-making which affects their lives both as individuals and as communities. The right to information would also contribute to ensuring that resources are well managed, opportunities for corruption are reduced and people can monitor government’s fiscal policies, including budgetary processes. Safeguarding the right to information is crucial to empowering people to claim, reinforce and defend their rights.

    Access to information allows for transparency and openness, which in turn encourages accountability and good governance. It would strengthen processes within which governments could be held to account for their actions. Allowing people to monitor, strengthens the platform upon which governments remain answerable to individuals and communities.

    Amnesty International views data as a potentially vital tool, which must be used constructively to enhance and strengthen accountability at all levels within and beyond the boundaries of the state. There is a need to ensure accurate data generation, in respect of international human rights law, including the right to privacy, and taking into account a country’s capacity to collect data, that is necessary for the realisation of human rights. For eg. Although parent companies already publish some data on the social and environmental impacts of their global operations, this voluntary reporting is selective and aggregated information is not always useful to affected individuals and communities. Such reports rarely include information on harmful impacts. Decisions not to disclose information should be strictly justified on limited grounds, such as the need to protect legitimate confidential information.

    Monitoring and examining data will allow for focus to be channelled to appropriate areas thus bolstering human rights implementation. For example, when governments agree to the Post 2015 framework with clear targets and indicators which can be measured, there would be a need for reliable data to enable monitoring and accountability. Where there are legitimate grounds, such data will need to be disaggregated on the basis of gender and social and economic status that may be the basis for discrimination in each country. Such information will help identify weaknesses, areas for improvement and allow for collective advancement of individuals, communities and the state.

    Amnesty International also recognises that data, which must only be collected and used in cases and in a manner which respect international human rights law, including the right to privacy, is not an end result and must therefore be used constructively to promote, implement and consolidate areas found wanting within a state, in order to achieve conformity with international obligations such as fulfilment of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Accurate data on areas like inequality, discrimination, access to services, information or justice equips state and non-state actors with the information needed to identify trends in sustainable development and adherence to rule of law and good governance.

    Amnesty International urges countries to ensure the right to information is part and parcel of any data revolution and an integral part of the post 2015 framework. This includes ensuring public participation and access to information relevant to the advancement of sustainable development goals.

  23. Aviva Investors

    As a business, we recognise our role in supporting sustainable development. Over the last fifteen years we have aligned the Aviva Corporate Responsibility programme to deliver on six of the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that are most relevant to us as a business. We are therefore supportive of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). As insurers and investors we would like to see sustainable capital markets that finance development that meets the need of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. We see great opportunities in making the SDGs more financially literate to ensure we create capital markets that promote rather than undermine sustainable development goals. Our ideas are further expanded in the Aviva Roadmap for Sustainable Capital Markets.

    We welcome the opportunity to participate in the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) consultation on the data revolution in sustainable development and offer specific observations and recommendations on metrics and the use of data to promote sustainable development.

    • The power of the benchmarking – we propose the development of a series of open-source performance benchmarks that publicly rank companies on a range of sustainability issues, including climate change, labour standards and human rights. This creates transparency and accountability to stakeholders (including investors and civil society) and a positive dynamic and incentive for companies to improve performance. The Access to Medicines Index is an excellent example of this.
    • Harnessing the private sector – company reporting on the extent to which sustainability issues are incorporated into the business strategy and its contribution to sustainable development encourages responsible businesses to take the lead on key sustainability challenges where this aligns with their business. Measuring the percentage of companies that are publishing data on their sustainability performance (potentially measured by Bloomberg) would be a helpful indicator
    • The role of financial regulators – creating sustainable capital markets requires input from governments and regulators. Helpful metrics in this respect would be:
    o the number of countries with corporate governance codes that promote sustainability thinking by the boards of companies (as measured by UNCTAD)
    o the number of stock exchanges with listing rules that include a requirement to publish sustainability performance (as measured by UNCTAD and the Sustainable Stock Exchange initiative)
    • Financing sustainable development – as outlined above, we support the creation of capital markets that promote rather than undermine sustainable development goals. This requires input from financial regulators but also from asset managers and asset owners. To that end the following metrics would be helpful:
    o the percentage of asset managers with responsible ownership voting policies that integrate sustainability issues into the way they vote at the annual general meetings of the companies that they own
    o the percentage of asset owners that include requirements on the integration of environmental, social and governance issues into their investment process and voting within their contracts with their fund managers.

  24. If the mantra is “leaving no one behind”, disaggregated demographic data must be included in any legislation, policy and programme that is developed and approved to promote sustainable development. Without such data, certain groups will be overlooked and will be unlikely to benefit from decisions that do not take them into account. What, for example, would be the impact of decisions on agriculture, food security, health, non-communicable diseases, education, social protection, employment, urbanization, disaster preparedness, on older persons? Ageing issues were totally ignored in the MDGs. People over the age of 60 currently make up 11% of the world population and by 2050, they will be 22% of the world population. It is obvious that the impact of population ageing on social and economic development is significant. There must be explicit inclusion of data on older persons. Issues such as intergenerational poverty need to be given serious attention.

  25. Working within the Stakeholder group on ageing In NY and in coalitions across the world HelpAge International has been especially active on the data issues relating to post 2015. In 2014 we produced a Global AgeWatch policy brief – ‘ Older people count – making data fit for purpose’
    The 2014 Global Age Watch Index,
    and produced an paper with the major group of children and youth on transforming the SDG agendas by having an intergenerational focus and commitment to including age in the framework.
    The Global AgeWatch Indexes of 2013 and 2014 demonstrate that international data is available on age, that it can be improved and expanded with inclusion of data from national sources, but there are significant gaps in the international arena – for example in relation to age and gender and age and disability. The Index shows that overall data on age issues needs to be improved. There are important gaps in data in a range of countries (see map in the Index report – many countries in Africa and the Middle East re not yet in the Index as there are data gaps) and specifically on poverty rates and relative welfare of older people – a significant issue if the new framework is to leave no one behind – are we planning to leave the fastest growing population group behind in the fight against poverty?
    Statistics matter, both for effective policy and conversely, for policy that is ineffective and backward facing, making an issue invisible, in turn causing suffering and perpetuating discrimination. The work since 2013 to measure well being in old age – now reaching 96 countries to date covering 91% of people over 60 – has shown us that it is possible to act decisively on the need to expose the existence and limitations of data that is disaggregated by age. Given the reality if our ageing world, where by 2030 there will be more people over 60 than children under 10 years of age the SDG process must prioritise disaggregation for data by age along with other factors.
    Statistical enquiry must be subject to the realities faced by countries and ageing must therefore be included. The SDG process is a historic moment to reverse the failures of past development policy that has airbrushed the realities of ageing out of the picture.

  26. In the complex world we live in, businesses can provide an extraordinary boost to sustainable development and should be considered an integral part of the implementation of the SDGs. It will be crucial to keep in consideration the contribution and impact of businesses in assessing progress on the SDGs. The importance of sustainability reporting was acknowledged in Paragraph 47 of the Rio+20 Outcome Document as a tool for the engagement of businesses in the sustainable development discourse and the Open Working Group on SDGs convened on the need for a target which includes sustainability disclosures by companies.

    The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) offers the most widely used sustainability reporting framework in the world as a free public good. This has enabled over 6,000 organizations to understand, manage and communicate their sustainability impacts.

    But GRI cannot do it all by itself: GRI has joined forces with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) for Business Action on Sustainable Development Goals. Through this partnership the three organizations will produce an implementation guide on impact assessment, KPI selection and goal setting, a publication that will support businesses in assessing their impacts, aligning their strategies with the SDGs and setting company goals. In particular, this joint project will present an inventory of indicators that can be used by companies to assess their impact against particular SDGs and corresponding targets. This analysis will offer the opportunity for a gap analysis, identifying those business relevant SDGs and related targets for which there aren’t commonly used indicators available. GRI will explore the development of additional suggested indicators that will rely on the GRI Guidelines and be developed based on the final set of SDGs. This will enable companies to measure and report their contribution to the full spectrum of the business-relevant SDGs. In addition, this will also generate quality data which will inform macro level indicators to track progress on the SDGs.

    Michael Meehan
    Chief Executive
    Global Reporting Initiative

  27. One of the weaknesses in the current MDG framework is that it does not require governments to publicly report on the financial resources they are investing in pursuit of the goals, and how these resources were raised. Without this data it has been very difficult to monitor and hold governments accountable for their MDG commitments and, indeed, other commitments — and to understand why countries do or do not achieve these goals. Including a target on fiscal transparency and participation in the post-2015 goals would allow citizens and other stakeholders to influence the goals and priorities their government sets, and make it possible to monitor whether or not those governments are investing sufficient resources in the right places to achieve the goals.

    Real accountability requires both access to timely, reliable and useful budget information and opportunities for citizens and other stakeholders to engage in budget decisions and oversight. As governments differ in both their current level of openness and their capacity to implement reforms, a graduated approach may be needed.

    What could be included in a fiscal transparency and participation target?

    Target: All governments report publicly and regularly on spending, outputs, and results achieved against each development goal, and enable monitoring and public engagement in the budget cycle

    Minimum standards target:

    Transparency: All governments produce and publish annual reports documenting the financial resources they have allocated and spent towards achieving each development goal included in the post-2015 development framework, and on the outputs and results that they have achieved through that spending. Ideally, such information should be included in the governments’ own Enacted Budgets and Year-End Reports, to minimize parallel reporting requirements.

    Participation: Legislatures conduct public hearings in which citizens can testify during the enactment of the budget.

    Good practices target:

    Transparency: Once the above minimum requirements have been met, governments should gradually make such reports more comprehensive, for example by including sub-national spending, detailing spending through specific programs or functional and sub-functional classification, incorporating off-budget funds and foreign assistance, and providing more detailed performance information.

    Participation: Government and oversight institutions provide spaces and mechanisms for public engagement at all stages of the budget cycle.

    Indicator: Analysis of government reports submitted to and compiled by a regularly updated UN registry (referred to in the Bali Communiqué).

    For more information and recommendations, please see

    – From Numbers to Nurses: Why Budget Transparency, Expenditure Monitoring, and Accountability are Vital to the Post-2015 Framework

    – International Budget Partnerships Response to the Open Working Group’s “Zero Draft rev 1” on Sustainable Development Goals

    – International Budget Partnership Response to the HLP Communiqué

  28. I see data revolution as the best lever to finally succeed in designing efficient policies, either at a national or at a local level. My leitmotiv is : you can’t manage properly what you don’t measure. (My comment is focused on development and help programs rather than on SDG)

    1. Data production, collection and thorough analysis is required to validate, at the field level, what programs work, and what programs don’t. To do so, those programs should be tested through statistically proofed experiments…. instead of just using examples for which the causes-consequences can easily be adapted to any conclusion one would like to raise. The work of Esther Duflo and her Poverty Lab at the MIT is exactly what should be done (in my opinion). It requires time and money, but it ensures efficiency and can avoid huge wastes.

    2. Data can help in raising awareness of the population on the as-is problems and difficulties they faced. Of course they know what difficulties they have to face, but they are not necessarily aware of the root causes of their difficulties, of the levers they could activate to improve their situation, of examples of what others have done to efficiently change their day-to-day. I’m far from thinking that those population should work on their situation completely on their own. Nevertheless, I’m sure that it can help a lot if they do want to be helped and if they do trust actions that are suggested to them. There is something that seems a bit paradoxal in the Development policies ; unlike problems such as racism, sexism, …. the one to organise the policies in the first place are not the one who suffer from the situation….

    3. The increase in the volume of data available, the increase of their quality and the increase of the analysis performance should help not only in identifying useful insights…. but also, and maybe mainly, on identifying new hypothesis that could be worth experimenting. Whatever the performance of the data analysis tools you use, if you ask the wrong question, you won’t be able to do anything interesting with the results (garbage in, garbage out). The exploitation of huge volume of data and the speed of analysis enable to test almost any combination of data to see if something emerges ; if so, you may find something to test through a robust experiment.

    4. The increasing power of data analytics should help in taking into account and understanding individual situations instead of the average. The average is always true globally, but almost always false locally…. Development issues can be seen as a global problem, but I bet that efficient programs are programs that are specifically adapted to fit the situation of a local area and its specific context.

    Easier said thand done…. and those are only my ideas, I do not have statistically proofed experiments to support them.

  29. The national spatial data infrastructures (NSDI) enable public and private bodies to share and to interoperate spatial data. Spatial data is the key to understand any thematic data in its spatial context. NSDIs –or simply SDIs- are therefore a milestone tool to assess the evolution of the environment. In Europe as example, the Directive 2007/2/CE « INSPIRE » aims at providing an European environmental spatial data infrastructure for the purposes of environmental policies and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment.

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  31. When it comes to “Means of implementation and funding to fill critical gaps in the production, dissemination and use of statistics, including introduction of new forms of data and methodologies”, our experience with a recent project in health information systems in Nigeria has many lessons.

    1) Build on existing processes and capacities.
    2) Allow time – capacities and habits don’t change quickly
    3) Prioritise data needs -Choices need to be made around whats important to know
    4) Involve communities and planners from the beginning. Communities and planners can be involved throughout and this increases the likelihood that they will use the data.
    5) Present data in ways that different audiences can consume
    6) Information can be an intervention… In NEHSI, in the areas where data was socialised, there were attributable changes in the health of mothers and children.

    In NEHSI, government officials and the researchers had explicit conversations about:
    What do you need to know versus what would you like to know? Can things be prioritised?
    Balance the breadth and depth of information.
    They also discussed what type of information planners needed. Rather than just the state of health, like the state of vaccination, diarrhea or post-partum hemorrhage, planners needed to know what actions can improve health. They need to know about root causes.
    Complementing facility-based data with community based-data from a series of social audits brought populations (all those who don’t access health facilities) who were previously invisible to policy makers to thier attention.

    The calls for the data revolution are rightly accompanied by calls to strengthen statistical capacities. Often of national statistics bureaus. That is surely important. But, you also need to strengthen the capacity to collect, analyse, interpret and use data all along a full spectrum of people. From the national level, to state and district levels.

    On the one hand this builds planners’ demand for data, and it also builds the culture of using data to inform planning.

    How is this capacity built? In NEHSI pairing mentoring, and learning by doing with formal training sessions worked well. This was done over the course of six years. They are not skills that can be learned in a one-off workshop.
    One lesson was that existing certification and degrees were less important in the long run than the individual being part of the system, in terms of sustainable retention of skills.
    NEHSI also consciously bridged different institutions, bringing people from the ministry of health together with those in the ministry of economic planning. Building up institutional processes for data use.

    For data use, ownership really matters.
    Since primary health care in Nigeria is a state and local government area concern, state and local government area score cards were produced. This allowed planners to compare their area with the state average, and see where improvements could be made. The researchers presented the data using maps, so that planners could easily see where problematic areas in their state were located. But, actually, it was quite important that before they received the scorecard or the maps, planners had been part of the process the whole time – it meant that it responded to their needs, that they understood it, and that they owned it.
    As the Former Permanent Secretary of Health, Bauchi State Amina Abubakar explains “We were involved from the beginning. And you cannot say no to the results, because you have been part of the process itself”
    With communities, short films were created with the data, using local actors and in local languages, conveying information about preventative actions families could take for maternal and child health (for instance encouraging going to clinics for antenatal care, or breastfeeding). As with planners, communities saw themselves reflected in the films. They had been part of focus group discussions and household surveys first. They understood that this was their data.
    Both the films and the scorecards were very well received, and acted upon.

    The Nigeria Evidence-based Health System Inititave is a collaborative project between the Government of Nigeria, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, and Canada’s International Development Research Centre, to support a fair, effective and efficient praimry healthcare system in Bauchi and Cross River states.

    Learn more about the NEHSI approach here: or browse the website:

  32. Pingback: Relevant data for education post-2015 need not be ‘big data’ | World Education Blog

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