POST TIME: 15 March, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 March, 2019 10:48:23 PM
Data acquisition towards measuring the progress of SDGs
The achievements of Sustainable Development Goals are channeled through a dynamic assessment of various indicators of the SDGs that exists in several development paths
Polin Kumar Saha

Data acquisition towards measuring the progress of SDGs

Bangladesh has achieved remarkable development in many sectors, which is being accredited by the United Nations and the international development community. As the essence of the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) success, Bangladesh deems to come out as a global thought leader in also achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within a stipulated time. Moreover, it is said by the country’s development leaders that the achievement of many SDGs would be possible in earlier of 2030. So, what is the basis of this say? Any kind of this prediction requires sufficient evidences on tracking from our previous progress. In following that, many of our previous success in attaining the SDGs should be documented in alignment with particular SDGs. The gathering of world data in respect to this has already been started under a global SDG tracker, a central database platform for SDG monitoring and evaluation. As an active partner of the UN, Bangladesh is guided to synchronize relevant database through its comprehensive SDG tracker. It’s indeed a great opportunity for us to participate in the country’s SDG monitoring framework. In the part of this, what is currently missing in our SDG tracker, how well efforts should be needed to enrich it, or where the resources are directed – all of these still exist in a pre-matured stage. In the achievement of SDGs, the government is not only liable to plan and monitor the relevant and compatible data, but a greater collaboration needs to be accomplished among all the private sectors, groups or individuals. All of the country’s organisations must be able to target relevant data entire the country and contribute into the global SDG monitoring on year progress. Such creation of each and individual monitoring mechanism in every service/development sector is very much important for reliable assessment of SDGs progress. However, the SDG Tracker is therefore aimed to generate an online data warehouse for effective monitoring of implementing diverse initiatives leading to realistic resource allocation and policymaking for inclusive sustainable development.

So, what types of data are still missing, or need to be generated in our future efforts? It’s unfortunate that we are still unable to monitor many indicators of some major goals of the SDGs.

According to our existing information of the Bangladesh SDG tracker, we can see the missing database of all the indicators in regarding goal 4 (quality education), goal 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), goal 11 (sustainable cities and communities), goal 12 (responsible consumptions and productions), goal 14 (life below water), and goal 17 (partnerships). Beyond of these particular goals, we also don’t have enough representative data for many indicators of other goals. That means we have to focus more initiatives on these particular goals or indicators to monitor our national SDG progress leading to contribution in the global database system. Tracking the SDGs is a very recent programme of Bangladesh government that tracks the country’s SDG progress towards achieving the global SDGs and allows the country’s people to hold individual accountability in regular jobs.

The achievements of SDGs are channeled through a dynamic assessment of various indicators of the SDGs that exists in several development paths.

These indicators are again involved in all the service sectors of a country in terms of various data requirements. In the process of monitoring the implementation of SDGs, many countries have already developed their national strategy in aiming towards a robust mechanism of the data management system. On the issue, Bangladesh is just focusing on a connection between the SDG tracker and the BBS (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics). However, this central SDG monitoring system may work as a unique platform for its operational structure, and in addition, may be performed in the integrated ways with other data management platform of a country. The highest potentiality for achieving SDGs could be carried out through strengthening an openness of data access, which ultimately ensures the accountability of institutions on behalf of the public interest.

We assume from our practical experiences that the data revolution from the MDGs achievements might be helpful for managing the SDGs as well. But the current trend lacks of data gathering at the country’s grassroots level, which cannot make a good platform for monitoring the sustainability goals. Traditionally, we are used to ignore the common people’s interest, demand, satisfaction, and their information in the decision making process. We can draw many examples as cases of violating the citizen’s interest in the country’s development paths – transport problems, traffic jams, infrastructure development, pollution control etc. In fact, the theory of sustainable development conflicts with the interest of such development projects while the majorities of local people have no interest in retaining their long term satisfaction of the government’s development project. So, without having a prior discussion with the common citizens, the way of implementing any development project may violate the principles of the SDGs.

More data revolution may be accomplished by new stakeholders, new partnerships, new platforms, new technologies for bringing data together, and not only by exploring some new ways of involving data analysts, policymakers or citizens. As such integration of these components, it provides a central platform for implementing and monitoring the progress of SDGs towards achieving their success. Targeting the big data is a vital part of this change that might be explored by new types of data drawn on promoting our digitalization in the system. In this case, the step forwarding a digital Bangladesh can play a vital role in data acquisition through mobile phone data, social media data (Facebook, Twitter etc), and much more. When a digital process is analyzed and integrated into a broader sense of data revolution under the SDG indicators, it can contribute an important benefit. We would say this is certainly an opportunity for us to develop an effective platform for gathering data by more access of mobile internet and network.

All over the views of SDGs monitoring and its success, we may finally suggest that the data to nourish the SDG indicators might be extracted primarily from four types of data sources, e.g. census data, survey data, administrative data and geo-spatial data. Drawing the data sources requires need assessment for the statistical capacity development anticipated to the SDG monitoring.

To summarize, the data tracking is already being facilitated by different organisations in many ways, but it has still enormous prospects to promote the implementation of the sustainable development goals and monitoring of its progress with respect to: (I) The integration of different types of data (census, survey, administrative and geospatial) to construct high quality information pool that is enough detailed (disaggregated), realistic, time bound, and relevant for multi purposes and users; (II) The increase in worthiness of data in a greater degree of transparency and openness, keeping away from ethical violations (invasion of privacy, violation of fundamental human needs, exploitation of human rights at a group or individual level of data misuse, inequality in production, refusal in access to or use of data); and (III) Based on the IEAG (Independent Expert Advisory Group) report on data revolution for sustainable development; more empowered people, greater participations with accountability, better decisions and better policies- which all of these have better chance in leading to the significant outcomes for people, profit and the planet.

The writer is Senior Researcher and Sustainability Professional. polin.msls2009@gmail.com; polin.kumar@brac.net