Financing SDG data needs: What does it cost?

Below are excerpts from an op-ed by Johannes Jütting, Manager, Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21) and Shaida Badiee, Managing Director & Co-founder, Open Data Watch, with research assistance from Koffi Zougbede (PARIS21) and Deirdre Appel (Open Data Watch)

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals by heads of state last fall in New York, the urgent practical question is how to finance the data needs of such an ambitious and universal agenda. Many developing countries already struggled with providing the data needed for the MDGs with its eight goals — how can we expect countries to measure and monitor the much more ambitious SDG agenda, with its 17 goals, 169 targets and 230 indicators? Financing SDG data needs alone will require an enormous amount of money — money that is better spent elsewhere, it is sometimes argued.  

Surprisingly, though, two recently published reports argue the opposite: With some modest additional investment in data and statistical capacity of less than US$1 billion per year, the job can be done. ...

So how much money is needed from both developing and developed countries to produce the data that allows us to effectively measure and monitor SDG implementation?

The Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data’s “State of Development Data Funding“ and PARIS21’s “Report on Support to Statistics (PRESS)“ provide cost estimates on the SDG data production for 77 IDA-eligible countries over the next 15 years and estimate the increase in domestic and donor funds needed to make this happen. To help developing countries measure and monitor the SDGs, around US$5.1 billion for the period until 2030 is needed in extra donor funding. This equates to some US$340 million per year, which is less than 0.5% of Official Development Assistance. This amount will be slightly higher if the additional needs of the 67 IBDR countries are taken into account, which have an estimated cost per year of US$85 million.

While a $340 million price tag for data and statistics is not insignificant, it is nearly equal to the combined salary and endorsements of three top soccer players — Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar — which stands at $207 million.

Please read the complete op-ed, originally published by the Huffington Post, and check out the "State of Development Data Funding" report, an initiative of the Resource Mobilization and Alignment Working Group of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.