ECOSOC Partnership Forum Discusses Big Data for SDGs
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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Participants in the ECOSOC Partnership Forum considered the theme, 'Partnerships for promoting opportunities, increased prosperity and sustainable development for all'.

The outcome of the Forum will help shape the dialogue of the Special Meeting of the ECOSOC President on the theme, ‘Towards sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies through participation of all,’ and will serve as an input to the HLPF.

Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director, UN Global Compact, noted that 100% of the UN leaders from 35 UN entities surveyed said partnerships with the private sector are crucial for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

4 April 2018: Participants in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Partnership Forum convened under the theme, ‘Partnerships for promoting opportunities, increased prosperity and sustainable development for all.’ They discussed SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), focusing on inclusion of vulnerable populations and partnerships to harness Big Data in SDG achievement.

Participants called for, inter alia: capacity building both for statistical offices and for the citizens who generate the data, so they can responsibly use the services that collect data; agreed methodologies on data privacy adopted at large; and collaboration among governments on “smart and agile regulation” of technology, which is effective in providing safeguards while allowing space for innovation.

The Forum took place on 4 April 2018 at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Its outcome will be a summary that will help shape the dialogue of the Special Meeting of the ECOSOC President on the theme, ‘Towards sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies through participation of all,’ to be held on 23 May 2018. The summary will also contribute to the high-level segment of the Council, which will convene from 16-19 July 2018, and the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which will take place from 9-18 July 2018.

Delivering her opening remarks, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed noted that the private sector is “an indispensable partner” in achieving the SDGs, adding that “sustainable business makes business sense.” She called on the business sector to innovate market-based solutions that drive inclusion and provide opportunities for women, young people and vulnerable groups. As a “critical part” of the reform of the UN development system, she explained that the UN is looking into a stronger UN institutional response and system-wide approach to partnerships for the 2030 Agenda, as the UN development system has “a unique convening power” that can help countries broker the diverse partnerships needed.

Peter Rhee, Samsung Electronics, spoke about the importance of partnerships in providing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and small holders access to markets. Katharina Latif, Allianz SE, highlighted that the beneficiaries of development programs want to also be the co-creators of those programs. Sameer Raina stressed that social impact needs to be very well defined, while the terms of partnerships need to be very clear and transparent. Anil Arora, Chief Statistician, Government of Canada, said no government or statistical capacity should be left behind.

Vincent Molinari, CEO, Liquid M Capital, noted that profit means sustainability, and sustainability allows impact and systemic change, thus profit should not be ignored. He underscored the need to move connectivity at the base of the pyramid to enable participation and change, as well as to build shared taxonomy and standardization around public-private partnerships (PPPs), to allow the global spread of SDG values.

Andrew Zolli, Planet Inc., explained that Planet Inc. operates the largest constellation of satellites in the Earth’s history. They monitor the entire surface of the planet, gathering terabytes of data per day. He noted that the revolution in artificial intelligence will enable the development of indicators that address the core of current global challenges.

Ana María Blanco, Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA), invited participants to look beyond cash when looking for PPPs as data is as valuable as money. She underscored the need for collaboration between governments on “smart and agile regulation” of technology, which is effective in putting in place safeguards while allowing space for innovation.

JoAnn Stonier, Chief Data Officer, MasterCard, noted that data is the raw material for innovation in humanitarian action. Explaining that everybody in the ecosystem should respect the same codes of practice for privacy to be assured, she called for agreed methodologies adopted at large to enable a level playing field on data privacy.

Eddy Mukooyo, Chairperson, Uganda AIDS Commission, explained how big data enabled the monitoring of human mobility and thus the prediction of potential locations for outbreaks, allowing for precise and effective prevention efforts. He underscored that innovation needs to be people-centered and driven by the needs of people.

Sriganesh Lokanathan, LIRNEAsia, gave an example of how Big Data enabled the effective deployment of limited human resources, helping the government to send its experts to the roads identified as the most used. He stressed the need for capacity building, also for citizens, through public information and education campaigns, as people are the data generators and need to become more responsible about how they use data collection services.

Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director, UN Global Compact, noted that 100% of UN leaders from 35 UN entities recently surveyed by the UN Global Compact said partnerships with the private sector are crucial for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. This is why, she said, we need better data on the performance, impact and outcome of partnerships.

In the ensuing discussion, Egypt for the Group of the 77 and China (G-77/ China), noted that governments are the key conveners of partnerships at the national level. He added that the UN’s engagement with the private sector must not impact the balance between core and noncore resources. Together with Bangladesh, for the least developed countries (LDCs), he further stressed that partnerships need to be aligned with national needs and priorities. Paraguay, for the land-locked developing countries (LLDCs), expressed hope that PPPs will help LLDCs overcome their structural challenges. The Republic of Korea, for Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia (MIKTA), said the UN could provide guidance and space for multi-stakeholder discussions on the safe use of data. The Major Group for Children and Youth called for integrating youth in PPPs. [Event Website] [Event Programme] [Event Concept Note] [UN Deputy Secretary-General Remarks] [UN Press Release] [Meeting Summary]


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