'It is good to see The Economist framing the debate on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals under the headline “The economics of optimism” (January 24th). I was surprised, however, that you did not question Bjorn Lomborg about his statement that “gathering data is hugely expensive”, nor his scepticism about the “push for data in development”. Mr Lomborg’s own “value for money” investments are based on national or international data sources. Without these data, the value added by his assessment would not have been possible. Moreover, his estimate that 12.5% of official development assistance would go towards monitoring the SDGs is far-fetched. Although it is true that the current state of data quality and quantity requires greater investment, particularly in developing countries, technological innovations, such as big data, offer unprecedented opportunities. Most experts think that investing a modest amount of resources, say 1% of development assistance, in data and capacity building will help inform policymakers and hold them accountable for the promises they will sign up to in September'.
Johannes Jütting, Manager of the PARIS21 Secretariat.