OECD Report Outlines Challenges and Recommendations for SDG Data
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The OECD has released the 2017 edition of its Development Co-operation Report on Data for Development.

The report discusses: actions that are needed for data to enable development; the value of data for development; the role of national statistical systems in the data revolution; rethinking donor support for statistical capacity building; making better use of results data in development co-operation; and "getting development finance data right".

The report underlines the importance of strong political leadership in developing countries to promote the cause of data for development and makes recommendations for better data.

17 October 2017: In its 2017 edition, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Co-operation Report notes that many OECD countries have not yet started collecting data for many indicators of the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators framework. The report also warns that the continued scarcity of basic data in developing countries about people and the planet as well as weak incentives and capacity to fill these gaps will hold back success on the SDGs.

Sub-titled “Data for Development,” the report discusses actions that are needed for data to enable development, the value of data for development, the role of national statistical systems in the data revolution, rethinking donor support for statistical capacity building, making better use of results data in development co-operation, and “getting development finance data right.” It includes profiles for OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members that provide key data on official development assistance (ODA) flows, channels and thematic and geographic allocations, and a description of DAC members contributions to data for sustainable development. It also comprises profiles for development co-operation providers that are not members of the DAC.

The report is complemented by case studies on data for development, and by a paper on ‘Data for Development: DAC Member Priorities and Challenges,’ which provides an overview of DAC members’ policies and practices to support national statistical capacities and systems in developing countries.

In the report’s foreword, Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, remarks that in an era of fake news and alternative facts, good data are even more vital. He writes that, while achieving the SDGs will require informed choices about priorities and strategies, there are currently no data for about two-thirds of the 232 SDG indicators, and 88 indicators have neither an agreed methodology nor data for measuring them. Gurría notes that, even when data are available, they are often insufficiently disaggregated, making it difficult for policymakers to track or compare the situations of different population groups or communities. According to the report: 77 developing countries worldwide have inadequate poverty data; only 56% of countries worldwide have birth registration data that are 90% complete; and 37 countries have national statistical legislation that complies with the UN’s Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics.

Gurría states that poor data and statistics capacity in developing countries is often related to a lack of resources. In the report’s editorial section, Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, DAC Chair, and Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD, note that if current levels of official development assistance (ODA) spent on statistics increased by US$200 million annually it would fill the funding gap for producing data for the SDGs in developing countries.

Many countries are not yet prepared or resourced to seize the data revolution in a systematic way. The report recommends not simply producing more data but of transforming, analyzing and using them in a way that is useful for policy making, monitoring and accountability.

The report notes that new technology and the data revolution make it easier, faster and cheaper to produce data. It indicates that among the developing countries that are embarking on the data revolution, Bangladesh, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania are using a large, geospatial database to improve their understanding of stunting, literacy and access to contraceptives. However, it adds that many countries are not yet prepared or resourced to seize the data revolution in a systematic way, as they need people with relevant skills, investment in the necessary infrastructure and reforms in their institutional and regulatory context. The report also stresses the importance of not simply producing more data but of transforming, analyzing and using them in a way that is useful for policy making, monitoring and accountability.

The report underlines the importance of strong political leadership in developing countries to promote data for development while ensuring data are produced to high-quality standards, and privacy and confidentiality are protected. It recommends to make statistical laws, regulations and standards fit for evolving data needs and to adopt clear legal, ethical and quality standards and protocols to regulate the use of traditional and new sources of data. It also calls for: improving the quantity and quality of financing for data by making data a cross-cutting priority for development co-operation; boosting statistical capacity and data literacy through new approaches that go beyond building capacity to collect data; increasing efficiency and impact through “data compacts” or other co-ordinated, country-led approaches that involve mutually accountable inclusive partnerships among data producers and users; investing in and using country-led results data to monitor progress towards the SDGs; and producing and using better data to help understand the overall state of SDG financing by increasing the availability and transparency of quality development finance data and by equipping developing countries to plan and budget their national development strategies and priorities.

The OECD Development Co-operation report is an annual report of the Chairman of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). It provides detailed statistics on and an analysis of each member’s foreign aid programmes (ODA) as well as an overview of trends and issues currently being discussed in the development community. [Publication: OECD Development Co-operation Report 2017: Data for Development] [Case Studies and Other Documents Complementing the Report] [Publication: Data for Development: DAC Member Priorities and Challenges][Revised List of Global SDG Indicators]

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