denmark-unstaditical-vietnam 22 July 2015: On the sidelines of the seventh session of the post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations, delegates discussed how administrative data – the data primarily collected by governments and other organizations for administrative purposes (e.g. registration, transaction and record keeping) – could be used as a data source for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for statistical systems in countries.

Opening the event on 22 July 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, Peter Lehmann Nielsen, Deputy Permanent Representative of Denmark, noted the importance of a post-2015 follow-up and review framework, and of good, timely, reliable and disaggregated data, in order to leave no one behind.

Do Hung Viet, Deputy Permanent Representative of Viet Nam, encouraged participants to share experiences and ideas on: how to operationalize SDG targets on capacity building support for developing countries so as to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable disaggregated data (target 17.18), and developing measurements of progress that complements gross domestic product (GDP) and supporting statistical capacity building in developing countries (target 17.19).

Niels Ploug, Danish Statistical Authority (Statistics Denmark), outlined data issues in relation to the SDGs, noting for instance that “very basic data” are often old and that many data are extrapolated. He said municipalities in Denmark have population registers based on demographic data information (e.g. date of birth, gender, place of birth). He pointed to the fact that administrative data and registers are cheap, stable and cover “the whole population continuously.” He added that the SDGs are challenging but also present an opportunity for National Statistical Offices (NSOs) to work together and create core data registers.

Tran Tuan Hung, General Statistics Office of Viet Nam, noted that Viet Nam uses sample survey/census data and administrative data such as tax data (personal income tax) for its statistical production system.

Ivo Havinga, UN Statistics Division, underscored the importance of an integrated statistical system and a common policy framework for the SDGs, remarking that institutions still work in a very fragmented way. He stressed the advantages of administrative data, and called for administrative data to be fit for statistical purposes and for resolving problems such as data inconsistency.

Jose Manuel Roche, Save the Children, said that based on a recent report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), 250 million of the world’s poorest and most marginalized people are estimated to be left out of surveys and censuses. He called for improving data coverage for marginalized groups and for quality disaggregated data to monitor progress for the social and economic groups that are furthest behind.

In the ensuing interactive session, participants discussed, among other issues: how to deal with non-quantitative data and how to actively engage communities in order to effectively monitor the SDGs; avoiding using SDGs “in silos” in the context of measuring SDG targets that incorporate the three dimensions of sustainable development; and the need for all to become “data literate” in order to ensure good decision-making.

The event was co-organized by the UN Permanent Mission of Denmark, Statistics Denmark, the UN Permanent Mission of Viet Nam, the UN Statistics Division, the General Statistics Office of Viet Nam, and Save the Children. [Event Programme] [IISD RS Coverage of 7th Session of Post-2015 Intergovernmental Negotiations] [IISD RS Sources]