12 December 2017
UN Agencies, Partners Call for Open, Interoperable Data
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The Joined-Up Data Standards project produced a report calling for greater collaboration among the data communities and the broader development community on data interoperability issues.

The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data launched a website prior to the Data for Development Festival in March 2018.

UNESCO issued a report on strategies and tools to help countries produce data on education, vital for monitoring of SDG 4.

6 December 2017: The Joined-Up Data Standards (JUDS) project has called for greater collaboration among data communities and the broader development community on data interoperability issues. In related news, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data has launched a new website ahead of the Data for Development Festival, and UNESCO issued a report on strategies and tools to help countries produce data on education that is vital for monitoring SDG 4.

The JUDS report titled, ‘The Frontiers of Data Interoperability for Sustainable Development,’ which was released in November 2017, presents five principles for promoting the interoperability of data: using and reusing existing standards; not overlooking metadata; using common classifications wherever possible; publishing data in machine-readable formats; and ensuring that data standards are user-driven. It also makes recommendations for structuring the work of the Collaborative on SDG Data Interoperability, a partnership that was established between the UN Statistics Division (UNSD) and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) in follow-up to the first UN World Data Forum (WDF), in January 2017. The JUDS report emphasizes that the Collaborative can play a critical role in advancing the agenda for interoperability, by providing coordination among data communities and the broader development community. JUDS is a collaboration between the NGO Development Initiatives and the Publish What You Fund campaign, and it was created in response to a WDF call to modernize statistical methods and promote data interoperability.

On 21 November, the GPSDD launched a website to enable closer collaboration among its partners and stakeholders in the lead-up to the inaugural Data for Development Festival. The Festival is an invitation-only event for GPSDD partners taking place from 21-23 March 2018, in Bristol, UK. The event seeks to foster good relationships as a basis for strong policy and partnership outcomes from the 73rd UN General Assembly and the second WDF, taking place in October 2018, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The GPSDD is a network of more than 280 public, private and civil society organizations, which works with stakeholders and governments in several countries around the world to improve data for SDG monitoring and implementation. The Partnership presently works in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and the US.

On 6 December, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a report containing strategies and tools to help countries produce better data on education. In the ‘SDG 4 Data Digest,’ the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) sets out measurement challenges associated with SDG 4 on providing quality education for every child by 2030. The report indicates that only 47% of the data needed for adequate monitoring of SDG 4 commitments is currently available. The ‘SDG 4 Data Digest’ provides mapping tools, data quality assessment tools, and manuals, guidelines and codes of practice to help countries produce the evidence base for education planning and monitoring. Silvia Montoya, UIS director, stressed that the SDGs require looking beyond national and regional average scores to understand issues of inequity and lack of inclusion.

At the UN Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany, a high-level side event on “data philanthrophy” highlighted that better use of data and technology worldwide can have great impact on achievement of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change, for example through provision of improved weather forecasts and timely weather alerts. The event was hosted by UN Global Pulse and Western Digital Corporation, and highlighted innovations relevant to implementing SDG 13 (climate action). The event presented the work of UN Development Programme (UNDP) in modernizing reporting systems on weather and water resources in more than 75 countries, supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Least Development Countries Fund, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Government of Canada, and the Adaptation Fund. One example highlighted at the event was a climate information project in Malawi, financed by the GCF, that is using climate data to provide vulnerable communities with better access to farming reports and weather-based index insurance. Speakers at the UNFCCC side event highlighted the need for “data philanthropy” by the private sector, for example, through telecommunications operators sharing crop reports via cell phones. Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, UNDP, and Robert Orr, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Change, called for open sharing of data so decision makers have information needed to develop strategies for climate resilience.

The event also showcased the winners of the UN Global Pulse’s Data for Climate Action Challenge, an open-data innovation competition that called on researchers to draw on big data – accessible via donated datasets from 11 companies – to catalyze action on climate change. [The Frontiers of Data Interoperability for Sustainable Development] [Development Initiatives Blog on JUDS and Interoperability] [About JUDS] [GPSDD Website] [UNESCO Press Release] [SDG 4 Data Digest] [UNFCCC Side Event Press Release]

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