Dialogue: Data and accountability for the Post-2015 Development Agenda

on Wed, December 18, 2013 at 11.14 am


The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were instrumental in mobilizing the international development community around simple, clear and measurable goals. A strong consensus is now emerging on the need for a Post-2015 agenda that is measurable in both theory and practice, for effective implementation, monitoring and accountability of development delivery from the sub-national to global levels. The United Nations Secretary General’s Post-2015 High-level Panel called for more evidence-based development policy-making and implementation, better availability of quality data and statistics and strengthened accountability of development stakeholders, and a “Global Partnership on Development Data”.


Several initiatives are emerging as development stakeholders endeavor to make the data revolution a reality. Having a broad, legitimate and coherent coalition, with balanced representation from various stakeholders and regional groups, and significant participation from developing countries, will contribute to fostering a common understanding of the meaning and implications of the concept of data revolution and its implications for evidence-based policy-making and implementation, as well as of the roles, complementarity and synergies of stakeholders. The resulting improved coordination and enhanced cooperation will help bring about greater effectiveness in the achievement of development objectives, thanks to increased availability and reliability of quality development data. Furthermore the data revolution can potentially contribute to strengthening accountability in the Post-2015 development agenda by fostering transparency and participation through open and accessible development data..


In 2011, UNDP, under the umbrella of the United Nations Development Group, launched an initiative to facilitate an open and inclusive process of global consultations on defining the priorities of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. After a first round of global, thematic, national and online consultations that addressed the issues that should be part of the new development framework (the “what”), the initiative is now entering its second phase, focusing more on concrete ways of making the Post-2015 development agenda a reality (the “how”).


Building on the outcomes of the first phase of UNDG consultations on Post-2015 development priorities, UNDP, with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and in collaboration with several partners, will convene a global meeting focused on data and accountability in the new development framework. The meeting will bring together various initiatives and key stakeholders active in the field, from governments, parliaments, international organizations, bilateral and multilateral development agencies, civil society and academia.


The event will be informed with insights and findings from ongoing initiatives led by partners such as PARIS21 (build data and statistical capacity to monitor the development agenda), ODI (research on methodology and technical challenges of the data revolution), CEPEI (discussions in Latin America on how to leverage and scale up a data revolution for sustainable development), PASGR (implications of the data revolution for Africa), SciDevNet (on the role of media and data journalism), the North-South Institute (on piloting the data revolution at the country level), Restless Development (on the role of youth), the UN Statistical Division, among others.


Participants will discuss topics including lessons learned from the experience of the UN system and other stakeholders in monitoring the MDGs at the national and global levels, a conceptual framework for development data, open data, innovation and new technologies for participation, institutional capacity and infrastructure requirements for improved data collection and the use of data in evidence-based policy-making, national and international legislative frameworks for monitoring and accountability of development delivery, the role of data journalism and media in fostering transparency and participation.


There is need to take note of the fact that data is required as evidence of progress i.e. monitoring but accountability goes beyond just knowing progress. The other essential aspects of an accountability framework is using this evidence to advocate for change as well as taking action. So one would need to look at the 3 main aspects which occur in a cycle; the last leading back to the first:

-       Data to monitor progress and influence policy making

-       Data to inform and empower stakeholders for evidence based advocacy

-       Data as a basis for reform/taking action 


The 3-day event will take place at the United Nations Headquarters from 29 to 31 January 2014, in conjunction with the eighth session of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals.



The event will aim to foster a common understanding of the concept of a “data revolution” and the potential roles of various stakeholders, and contribute to building a global partnership for development data and accountability for the Post-2015 development agenda.


Expected outcomes

The event will feed into the inter-governmental and broader discussions on sustainable development goals and Post-2015, and lead to a common roadmap for coherent follow-up actions and advocacy to integrate data and accountability in the Post-2015 development agenda.




Start date: 
Wed, 2014-01-29
End date: 
Fri, 2014-01-31
New York
Jessie Lydia Henshaw
Mon, January 20, 2014 at 05.55 pm
I need help getting across an absolutely crucial point about the "Data and accountability for the Post-2015 Development Agenda". I've been doing scientific research on how to study the natural organization and interactions of distributed systems like economies and have important findings about how to measure them that are not getting out.

I expect the crucial issue for "data and accountability" would not even come up for discussion, though, it seems "so technical" and so "big". But there's an amazingly big "hole in our data" is the problem, in how we have been **measuring accountability** for things, that people, or projects, or businesses, or policies can be held responsible for. The way the SD community agreed to standardize its measures is on counting up only the traceable impacts of things.... The problem is ***that leaves ALL the known but untraceable impacts unaccounted for***.

So.., when measuring impact accountability, such as business responsibility for GHG's, or any other list of costs or benefits of the economic development, ***what is not done is to apportion shares of the known but untraceable impacts***. Why I put ***triple stars*** on those statements is due to the HUGE difference it makes in the measure of responsibilities for economic impacts. The untraced portion is going to typically be 5 to 10 (or more) times larger than the traced portion.
It's really simple to understand why the error was made, once you become curious about the problem and the enormity of measurement errors of 500% and larger. That's for how we distinguish between "sustainable" from "unsustainable" activities, and measure the financial liability implied. How we made the error is that the "traceable" impacts are traced through business records, and "untraceable impacts" are the ones business has no record of... the great majority in most cases.

I carefully studied the problem and developed a well founded scientific method for attributing shares of the known but unattributed impacts, apportioning them per dollar of GDP. It really holds up scientifically, but ONLY if people become curious enough to ask the critical questions. Sadly, the professional community doesn't like changing habits any more than any one else, and though I've discussed the research proving this with professionals at all levels, getting agreement in principle with the facts of the matter again an again, still I can't get anyone interested in putting it on the agenda.

If anyone has any ideas on what strategy I could follow to get this discussed,... as they say "I'm all ears"!

Some reference links, from general to specific:

A World SDG: A Sustainable Earth Footprint, and way to thoughtfully manage global systems
- http://synapse9.com/signals/2014/01/08/a-world-sdg-reducing-our-global-f...

Sustainable Cities: Caring for the Greater Commons
- http://synapse9.com/signals/2013/12/28/sustainable-cities-and-the-greate...

Getting the incentives right requires redefining the units of measure
- http://synapse9.com/signals/2013/12/17/getting-the-incentives-right_new-...

System Energy Assessment (SEA), Defining a Standard Measure of EROI for Energy Businesses as Whole Systems
- http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/3/10/1908/ (The peer reviewed scientific paper )
- http://synapse9.com/SEA (notes and comment)
Tue, January 7, 2014 at 08.54 pm
This is a really important initiative and should generate some useful recommendations as MS move forward in their deliberations. I am sure that the specific issue of gender statistics and sex and age disaggregated data (SADD) will also come up during the meeting and there is a lot of work being done in the area at the moment by the UN system and UN Women. See, for example: ://unstats.un.org/unsd/gender/default.html, which also provides information on the EDGE (Evidence and Data for Gender Equality) project, a joint UNW, World Bank, OECD initiative. A key issue, even when sex disaggregated data is collected, is the degree to which it is then used as a basis for analysis - is made available for public review and accountability mechanisms - and then informs action.
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