Washington, DC - On September 27, 2015, the member states of the United Nations agreed to a set of Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) that define a common agenda to achieve inclusive growth, end poverty, and protect the environment by 2030. The Global Goals build on tremendous development gains made over the past decade, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, and set actionable steps with measureable indicators to drive progress.
The availability and use of high quality data is essential to measuring and achieving the Global Goals. By harnessing the power of technology, mobilizing new and open data sources, and partnering across sectors, we will achieve these goals faster and make their progress more transparent.
Harnessing the data revolution is a critical enabler of the global goals—not only to monitor progress, but also to inclusively engage stakeholders at all levels – local, regional, national, global—to advance evidence-based policies and programs to reach those who need it most. Data can show us where girls are at greatest risk of violence so we can better prevent it; where forests are being destroyed in real-time so we can protect them; and where HIV/AIDS is enduring so we can focus our efforts and finish the fight. Data can catalyze private investment; build modern and inclusive economies; and support transparent and effective investment of resources for social good.
The U.S. Government has advanced priorities and targeted investments toward increasing the availability and application of public data that span many parts of the 2030 agenda. For example, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) invested over $125 million towards strengthening host country health information, inclusive of technical assistance for training and analyses, to ensure greater capacity for countries to prevent and respond to health needs and crises. The U.S. Census Bureau has performed international analytical work and assisted in the collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and use of statistics with counterpart governments in over 100 countries for increased quality information about country capacity and needs. The U.S. Government is opening and making freely available Landsat geospatial data, which is being used to monitor water quality, deforestation rates, and disaster preparedness, and has generated more than $2 billion annually in economic activity. Across the federal government, guided by President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, new policies and improved data management practices are providing greater accessibility and detail than ever before; and advancing the firm commit to multi-sector partnerships will increase the dissemination and use of open data to improve sustainable development outcomes outside of U.S. Government support and by the local actors.
The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (Global Data Partnership), launched on the sidelines of the 70th United Nations General Assembly, is mobilizing a range of data producers and users—including governments, companies, civil society, data scientists, and international organizations—to harness the data revolution to achieve and measure the Global Goals. Working together, signatories to the Global Data Partnership will address the barriers to accessing and using development data, delivering outcomes that no single stakeholder can achieve working alone.
As a founding member of the Global Data Partnership, the United States is committed to broadening and deepening its leadership in the collection, analysis, use, and release of data to achieve and measure the Global Goals. The United States, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is joining a consortium of funders to seed this initiative. The U.S. Government has many initiatives that are harnessing the data revolution for impact domestically and internationally. Highlights of our international efforts are found below:
Health and Gender
• Country Data Collaboratives for Local Impact – PEPFAR and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) are partnering to invest $21.8 million in Country Data Collaboratives for Local Impact in sub-Saharan Africa that will use data on HIV/AIDS, global health, gender equality, and economic growth to improve programs and policies. Initially, the Country Data Collaboratives will align with and support the objectives of DREAMS, a PEPFAR, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Girl Effect partnership to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in high-burden areas.
• Measurement and Accountability for Results in Health (MA4Health) Collaborative – USAID is partnering with the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and over 20 other agencies, countries, and civil society organizations to establish the MA4Health Collaborative, a multi-stakeholder partnership focused on reducing fragmentation and better aligning support to country health-system performance and accountability. The Collaborative will provide a vehicle to strengthen country-led health information platforms and accountability systems by improving data and increasing capacity for better decision-making; facilitating greater technical collaboration and joint investments; and developing international standards and tools for better information and accountability. In September 2015, partners agreed to a set of common strategic and operational principles, including a strong focus on 3–4 pathfinder countries where all partners will initially come together to support country-led monitoring and accountability platforms. Global actions will focus on promoting open data, establishing common norms and standards, and monitoring progress on data and accountability for the Global Goals. A more detailed operational plan will be developed through the end of the year, and implementation will start on January 1, 2016.
• Data2X: Closing the Gender Gap – Data2X is a platform for partners to work together to identify innovative sources of data, including “big data,” that can provide an evidence base to guide development policy and investment on gender data. As part of its commitment to Data2X—an initiative of the United Nations Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Clinton Foundation, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—PEPFAR and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) are working with partners to sponsor an open data challenge to incentivize the use of gender data to improve gender policy and practice.
• PEPFAR Data Transparency – By the end of 2015, through PEPFAR, the U.S. Government will release a range of additional data, including PEPFAR procurement transaction data from the USAID Supply Chain Management System and sub-national results on the PEPFAR Dashboards.
• Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition – The United States is committed to increasing support for global efforts to make agricultural and nutritionally relevant data available, accessible, and usable for unrestricted use worldwide by expanding and deepening our commitment to the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative. This commitment will encourage collaboration and cooperation among existing agriculture and open data activities, without duplication, and bring together stakeholders to solve long-standing global problems with a priority toward improving global food security. The United States looks forwarding to working with other GODAN partners to plan the first GODAN Summit to be held in late 2016.
• Project 8 – The State Department has joined with the UN Foundation and the Demand Institute to help launch Project 8, which is bringing together leading experts and organizations to build a digital demand commons that will provide greater, centralized visibility into human needs data and projections. Project 8 serves as a tool for public and private sector researchers to collaborate on the science of human needs modeling. The first phase of the project prototype is designed around food security and nutrition and will be launched on the margins of the 70th UN General Assembly.
• Group on Earth Observation Global Agricultural Monitoring initiative (GEOGLAM) – GEOGLAM is a Group on Earth Observation (GEO) initiative that responded to a 2011 G20 call to provide information to reduce price volatility in basic food crops. Through GEOGLAM, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Weather Service joins with major food production countries, international organization, and others to integrate medium-term weather and crop production forecasts, to facilitate responses at the national, regional, and global level to preemptively adjust food production and distribution to situations such as the El Nino weather patterns.
• Climate Services for Resilient Development – To support the Climate Services for Resilient Development partnership, USAID will provide $9 million in support of user-tailored climate service activities and products. The partnership aims to empower developing nations to boost their own climate resilience, and will provide actionable science, data, information, tools, and training to developing countries that are working to strengthen their national climate resilience—with an initial focus on Bangladesh, Colombia, and Ethiopia.
• Group on Earth Observation (GEO)– The U.S. Government invests $3 billion annually in civil earth observation across 13 federal agencies, coordinated through the U.S. GEO subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council. The Unites States shares and coordinates this information internationally with 95-plus governments and 70-plus participating organizations of the international GEO, of which the United States is a founding member. The U.S. data and information is freely available, and international GEO encourages this principle to be adopted by all of its members. GEO provides public and private stakeholders with critical information about natural resources, climate and weather, disaster events, land use change, and ecosystem health. These measurements are critical to understanding complex social dynamics such as human influence on food and water resources, energy security and climate change, and their resulting impacts on societal health and wellbeing. This data and information also support private sector products and services enhancing productivity, employment, and the economy.
• SERVIR – SERVIR is a joint development initiative of USAID and NASA, working in partnership with leading regional organizations around the globe to link NASA’s satellite data with the needs of local decision-makers facing challenges related to food security, water resources, disasters, weather and climate, and land use. Started in 2005 at a modest scale in Central America, SERVIR has grown to a global network of regional hubs that work to improve access to information, build capacity of analysts and decision-makers to work with the information and associated technologies, and provide tailored information products and services that help people manage climate risks and plan for low emissions development. SERVIR has regional hubs in the Eastern and Southern Africa region, in the Himalaya region, and in the Mekong region, and SERVIR West Africa will launch in January 2016.
• Innovating with open geographic data – The U.S. Government is maximizing the creation and sharing of geospatial data to put information into local context, promote citizen engagement, and add power to multi-sector analysis, monitoring, and evaluation. Working with the global open mapping community, the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and the Peace Corps are expanding efforts to recruit, train, and mobilize digital volunteers to contribute to OpenStreetMap, an open and editable map of the world. The U.S. Department of State’s MapGive program is catalyzing mapping for a range of human security applications through the provision of high-resolution satellite imagery services, and in conjunction with USAID’s Mapping for Resilience initiative, will build local communities around open mapping. Mapping for Resilience will empower youth in developing countries to create foundational geospatial data that will help inform USAID programming decisions. Together these agencies will continue to advance humanitarian, health, and development missions with high-quality, open, geographic data created via crowdsourced mapping.