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Global Challenges Initiative

The Cambridge Strategic Research Initiative for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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SDSN Counting on the World: Building Modern Data Systems for Sustainable Development

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network has published a report from its Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (TReNDS), titled "Counting on the World".

20171031_SDSN

Unfortunately, much of the data required to monitor the SDGs is unavailable. Issues relating to quality, timeliness, human and financial capacity, and lack of standardized methodologies all hamper our ability to comprehensively track this important agenda. Financial investment in statistical systems is urgently required to help rectify these problems, but we also need to harness the so-called ‘data revolution,’ bringing in private companies and other data innovators from academia, civil society and multilateral institutions to develop new technologies and approaches to monitoring sustainable development.

But data is not just required for monitoring. Achieving the ambitious SDGs also requires an evidence-based approach to governance. National and local leaders need to utilize data to help inform their planning, decision-making, and program design. They need data on the here and now, on the quality of services, on economic opportunities, and on the wellbeing of their population. But they also need historical data and forward-looking, modeled data to understand where we are coming from, understand trends over time, and help us prepare for the future and the seismic sustainable development challenges it brings with it.

This report lays out the necessary functions of modern statistical systems equipped to support sustainable development. Given the scale of the challenge, it proposes a multi-stakeholder approach in which private companies, academia, multilateral institutions and civil society support governments with the production, cleaning, compilation, dissemination and analysis of data. It identifies the range of actors that should be included and their respective incentives, roles and responsibilities, all coordinated by an independent national statistical office (NSO) and supported by a high-level government appointee focused on data – ‘Chief Data Officer’ (CDO).

 

The above is an excerpt from the report's executive summary. For more information, please see the full report here.

The Global Challenges Initiative is a Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge that aims to enhance the contribution of its research towards addressing global challenges and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

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