The Importance Of Data In Implementing The Sustainable Development Goals

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  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.
  2. “Siloed” data. Most data is accessible only to the collecting organization and, in some cases their funders, and not to other researchers, academics, practitioners, and policymakers unless those organizations have developed effective strategies to share data while also ensuring privacy protections.
  3. Lack of standardization. Data sets are often not standardized within or across organizations and may be incomplete and incompatible with international standards.
  4. Furthermore, gathering and centralizing reliable, high-quality data that can be shared appropriately with the global community interested in sustainable development and within and between governments presents several particular challenges:
  • Collection. Collecting data on sustainable development requires special care and attention. Collectors must employ sound methodologies to ensure data integrity and confidentiality.
  • Standardization. Data standardization requires many different governments, agencies, and organizations — each with its own legacy record-keeping system and mandates — to agree upon data standards and a common data architecture.
  • Aggregation. Having several different datasets that are standardized and compatible means they can technically be combined into larger or cross-sectional datasets, but political, bureaucratic, and legal obstacles may nevertheless prevent their data aggregation. Real data-sharing agreements must be reached to overcome these institutional barriers so that related and standardized datasets can be brought together into larger, more useful databases for analysis.
  • Data Integrity and Anonymity. Protecting the integrity of the data and the identity and privacy of survivors is of paramount importance once data has been collected, standardized, and aggregated. Special care must be taken to prevent database compromise or inadvertent release of information that can identify individuals and violate their right to privacy.
  • It is clear that collecting quality, standardized and safe information is a huge challenge that we have not yet come, but despite the difficulty, there are organizations making significant efforts to face these obstacles and add solutions to this problem from their own perspectives. Some of these organizations have uploaded valuable information to keep track of the SDGs around the globe to their own databases.
  • 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.
  • The Institute of applied investigation also launched a project call for its atlas of human development ( Atlas del Desarrollo Humano), which includes an index with more than 200 indicators to measure human development. Since this index was launched, it has been used as a main tool to create and design the most relevant public policies in Brazil.
  • Apart from the human development indicators, the atlas has data connected to the sustainable development goals, which will provide the most recent information to local communities to facilitate the design of policies based on the SDGs. In a world that is constantly changing, we need to make policy based on the right information.
  • Data2x is an initiative from the United Nations Foundation that builds and mobilizes action around gender data. Through research, advocacy, and communications, they make gender data central to global efforts to achieve gender equality. They partner with data producers to improve established data systems. With their partners in multilateral agencies, governments, and the private sector, they work to improve standards guiding data collection efforts. They convene organizations with a shared interest in improving data on specific areas — such as unpaid work or financial inclusion — to encourage harmonization in data collection practices. Through these efforts, they are changing the way women’s activities are captured in data systems.
  • Certainly, the collection and analysis of SDG data is a challenge that needs to be addressed as soon as possible to facilitate ways to measure the impact of initiatives that are being developed in communities and cities around the globe, because if we do not measure our actions, they are not tangible at all.However, despite these challenges,, there are initiatives proving that we are on the right track, and we only need to find innovative ways to find strategic partnerships to systematize and analyze information that allow us to share quality data with the organizations that are monitoring the global progress we have made in sustainable development.




A global community of changemakers united around a shared vision for a better world in 2030. A project of the UN Foundation in support of the United Nations.

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A global community of changemakers united around a shared vision for a better world in 2030. A project of the UN Foundation in support of the United Nations.

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