The Importance Of Data In Implementing The Sustainable Development Goals

By +SocialGood Connector, Alejandra Acosta

Photo by Davi Mendes on Unsplash

For some years, the advancement of the 2030 agenda has been one of the top priorities of international human rights organizations and some local governments.

In fact, thanks to the 2030 agenda, the local work on sustainability has found a framework to connect with international action in terms of development. However, with the crisis of coronavirus and its impact on our world, sustainability seems to be left in second place — again.

Today, more than ever, it is important to remember that the sustainable development goals are not just a good branding strategy of the UN work. They are actually the starting point to making sure every country and as a consequence, the whole world, are working together in a coordinated way but also respecting the particularities of each country, with the objective of making life more sustainable with the planet and the people who live in it.

The implementation of the sustainable development goals has a lot of aspects that need to be discussed globally, but today I think it is crucial to focus on one of the most urgent issues: data. This issue was underlined during the past UN75 youth plenary session on the impact of digital technology and data.

In a time where coronavirus has made us aware of all the things we lack as a society, measuring our impact and having a big picture of what is really happening in our world in different areas like health, gender equity, governance and so on seems more important than ever before.

How can we measure the positive impact that we are making towards the 2030 agenda if we do not have proper tools to measure it? We cannot know what we cannot measure, and I believe that one of the main difficulties to know what is going on in each country, community, and organization in terms of sustainable development is that there is not enough reliable and high-quality information that tracks the SDGs. This means that there is a lack of data of each SDG at a local and global level, preventing us from truly knowing the specific advancements that are being made. This information needs to be collected based on common and global indicators that facilitate impact measurement and respect the privacy of individuals.

There are several challenges that impede the collection of high-quality information about the SDGs:

  1. Poor data management practices and systems. Organizations without the funding or capacity to develop well-designed, modern practices and systems cannot easily search and analyze their own data. That is a huge barrier to share quality information.
  • Collection. Collecting data on sustainable development requires special care and attention. Collectors must employ sound methodologies to ensure data integrity and confidentiality.

Here are some examples:

  • The United Nations Global Pulse is an innovative initiative in charge of accelerating the development of data analysis as a public resource for sustainable development. This initiative has organized several workshops and think tanks on data innovation with the objective of strengthening capacities of organizations to collect data and analyze it.

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