Progress towards development needs to be monitored and reviewed constantly. The road to achieving development goals and better lives is not straight: economic instability, humanitarian crises and climate breakdown (amongst other factors) have severe and immediate impacts, and these impacts affect countries and populations differently. The worst effects are often felt by those already furthest behind.
For policy making to be rapid and responsive, it is vital for countries and the international community to have access to the right information at the right time. Timely, reliable, and disaggregated data are essential to navigate through crises and upheaval. Since the start of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) era, Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) have become an important platform to keep countries’ discussions and decision making on track to achieve the SDGs. Increasingly, countries are presenting more granular VNRs that include detailed and disaggregated data and statistics to ensure that they have a vision that represents different situations across regions and communities. There is also growing interest from cities and local provinces in submitting their own voluntary reviews, called Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs).
For national statistics offices (NSOs) the midpoint of the SDGs is a poignant moment to reflect on how the role of data and statistics in the SDGs is changing. Data and statistics have at the core of development policies, supporting governments and citizens. But they have also needed to adapt and evolve to meet the demand for data and statistics and coordinate the various data actors in a way that can reflect the situation and needs of citizens.
PARIS21’s package of support, funded by the European Commission's Directorate General for International Partnerships can help countries to build stronger data ecosystems for VNRs
PARIS21 has been developing tools to support NSOs in their role as coordinator of data providers and users in VNR processes, as well as to develop capacities of NSOs to mobilise the wider data ecosystem in closing SDG data gaps.
This year PARIS21 has started the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Partnerships (EU INTPA) to improve capacity for data-driven policy making by strengthening the collaboration between line ministries and NSOs in VNR processes.
This collaboration builds on PARIS21’s experience and responds to partner countries’ demand for more granular and data-driven VNRs. In addition, PARIS21 is going to look at the role of the NSOs in supporting the VLR processes. PARIS21 will be working with various development partners to offer tailored and agile solutions in the following areas:
Sharing best practices on how to strengthen the NSO’s role in co-ordinating data actors during the VNRs
PARIS21 is developing a knowledge base for the NSOs and VNR leading ministries in line with the most recent guidance from the United Nations Statistics Division. The knowledge base will consist of stock-taking and analytical report on the role of the NSOs in the VNR process, as well as forward-looking recommendations, which will allow governments to adopt a strategic approach to closing SDG data gaps in the final stage of the Decade of Action. The insights will be discussed in national workshop for countries preparing VNRs, linking to strategic planning activities for official statistics. This project builds on PARIS21's experience in supporting the design of National Strategies for the Development of Statistics (NSDS) to deliver more and better development data (NSDS Guidelines).
Promoting a data ecosystem approach for VNRs
PARIS21 advocates for NSOs to play a strong role and forge new collaborations within the data ecosystem to produce and use better data for decision making. This new role requires the NSO to adopt new skills (in co-ordinating non-state actors, partnership-building, mobilising resources and networking) and building an enabling legal and policy environment (through statistics laws, strategic planning for statistics, and efforts to linking data demand and supply). This workstream stems from the data ecosystem approach, drawing on PARIS21's previous collaborations with various development partners, such as the GIZ Partners for Review project.
Leveraging new data sources by NSOs for better SDG review
Enabling the use of citizen-generated data (CGD) by NSOs is another area in which PARIS21 has contributed to data-driven and inclusive Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) review. Civil society organisations (CSOs) are foundational actors to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, not only through their role of holding the government to account but also as important data producers, amplifiers, and users. PARIS21 has developed a normative and operational approach to enable the use CGD by the NSOs to close data gaps. In Kenya, for example, thanks to the support of GIZ and the Government of Flanders, PARIS21 worked with Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) line ministries, civil society actors and development partners to help KNBS use data produced by civil society organisations close data gaps in indicators of SDGs 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 . Collaborations between NSOs and non-government actors such as CSOs have also helped to build trust and obtain deeper insights on what are the needs and priorities of the most vulnerable groups. This work is in line with the OECD DAC Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance and the work of the novel UN Collaborative on Citizen Data. By helping the NSOs to embrace the new data ecosystem and strengthening its data coordination role in the VNR process, PARIS21 hopes to improve the national and local SDG reporting and bolster the national statistical systems.