Photo: UNDP / Freya Morales

At the end of 2017, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data is still the partnership that I joined towards the end of 2016 – still driven by the vision and passion of its members, and still focused on how we can be more powerful and effective as a network than we can be as individuals. I’ve been grateful to meet so many of you this year, and have learned something from every new conversation. As we’ve moved on together through the last 12 months, three things stand out for me as achievements we can all be proud of:     

  • A stronger organization. I’ve spent a lot of this year powering up our organization to achieve the results we want. A bigger team, a new Board of Directors and Technical Advisory Group, a new website, new partners, and new funding relationships all mean that we are in good shape to scale up our impact and deliver the changes that you all, quite rightly, expect of us. 
  • Political impact. We, together with many of you, delivered several big events this year, where we successfully reached out beyond the data and statistics world and engaged senior politicians. From the Vice President of Ghana H.E. Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia's incredible speech at the Ghana Roadmaps Forum in Accra, to the moving words of the Vice-President of Sierra Leone, H.E. Victor Bockarie Foh, at the Africa Regional meeting on Data for Development, to the always inspirational Kenyan Minister of Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed, and of course her namesake and our Honorary Chair of the Board, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, we have provided a platform for senior leaders to make new commitments, to set out the importance of data and statistics, and to drive a changing political culture that will, we hope, lead to greater investment in data and a greater policy focus on those issues that are needed to unlock the power of data to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Driving innovation. The Global Partnership makes things happen, and this has been very evident this year. With the World Bank, we announced the first round of innovation fund projects, and the call for the second round is well under way. The innovation marketplace at the High-Level Event in Kenya showed the huge diversity of ideas and practical solutions represented in the partnership, our strong focus on matching demand and supply, and innovating with purpose. We have continued to work with governments to deliver on ambitious Data Roadmaps, and with all of you in the working groups and task teams to provide tangible and workable solutions to drive change through data. 

I am so impressed by our achievements this year, but I am even more excited about how we can use this as a platform for bigger and better things next year. As we have prepared our plans for 2018, we are looking to scale up and deliver some real change:

  • Country-level impact. We are poised to start delivering answers to some of the data challenges that governments and others have identified. From partnerships that will deliver satellite data, mobile data, and open data to governments and citizens for better planning and decision-making on issues including agriculture, climate change, water, and land degradation, to our work on developing the Data4SDGs Toolbox to enable knowledge sharing among partners and the wider community, to new partnerships providing support and capacity in the areas of disaggregation, CRVS, and data science, during 2018 we will see our collective work make a real impact in more countries, and in more ways, than ever before. 
  • A focus on finance. A common thread through many of our activities is the need for more resources for data and statistics. This year we will approach this head-on, with new research on the value of investment in data, and will work with many of you to make the case for more and better financing of data by governments, by donors, and by the private sector. 
  • Taking down the walls around data. Our work with the UN Statistics Division on interoperability will conclude next year with ideas for how interoperability can be delivered in practice.  We’re also scaling up work on the API Highways data infrastructure, offering our partners a way to make their data more accessible and usable.    

 

All of this will be underpinned by a strong emphasis on communications – telling the stories of how better data can really make a difference for people – and on evaluating and learning from our work, so we can continue to improve and to share the lessons from what we do. Our first milestone is the inaugural Data for Development Festival in Bristol, UK on March 21-23. Thanks to everyone who is helping create what is already shaping up to be an incredibly exciting and productive event. I am looking forward to seeing you all there.

This is, and always will be, a collective endeavor. We exist to enable others to deliver change, and the Global Partnership team is looking forward to working with all of you to make big things happen next year. 

(Photo: UNDP / Freya Morales)