Sustainable data key for measuring global development

Lenni openerAs part of the celebration for World Statistics Day 2015, Lenni Montiel, UN DESA’s Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, hosted a Twitter chat to put the spotlight on the pivotal role of statistics in measuring development progress across the globe.

Using the hashtag #SDGsData, people from all corners of the world tuned in on 22 October to ask their questions on how the UN is working with data and how these efforts can contribute to realize sustainable development.

Inclusive data ensures leaving no one behind

In the chat, questions mainly covered data transparency and effectiveness, as well as the experiences gained from monitoring the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Data inclusiveness was also mentioned by many chat participants, and  there were several questions on how to make data speak for youth, women, persons with disabilities, indigenous groups and communities in remote areas.

Mr. Montiel pointed out that to measure progress towards the SDGs, inclusive data is a must, and that the participation of every sector of society is needed. “Everyone can contribute to SDGs data,” stressed Mr. Montiel. “We need inclusive data to leave no one behind.”

Lessons from MDGs help in implementing SDGs

What lessons have we learned from monitoring the MDGs, and what will be particularly relevant to the SDGs agenda, were questions at the very centre of the chat.

To address these questions, Mr. Montiel highlighted five key actions: paying attention to national ownership and flexibility in the reporting format; conducting more consultation among statisticians in international organizations, UN Inter-Agency and Expert Groups; placing focus on country level data; investing in statistical capacity to ensure availability, reliability, timeliness and accessibility of development data; and last but not least, improving institutional coordination at all levels, including within national statistical systems.

Statistical revolution is a new trend

Some expressed concerns about a pervasive tendency in current statistics to overemphasize on GDP growth, regardless of the fact that inequality is also rising.

Mr. Montiel explained that the data revolution  is helping us address inequalities in data access and use through principles, innovation, resources and leadership. “Data is the key for effective measuring of the SDGs. It will not only rely on GDP growth. The data revolution is happening and we’ve seen progress in data innovation already.”

At the end of the chat, Mr. Montiel concluded that, though the SDGs are very ambitious, it is not impossible to accomplish them, and statistics will be at the core of this process. “I am convinced that with the wealth of knowledge gained through the MDGs monitoring, we will be successful tracking SDGs data, ensuring to leave no one behind.”

For more information:

Twitter chat with Lenni Montiel on #SDGsData (Storify)

Statistics at the center of sustainable development