Data matters: the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data

Speech by International Development Secretary Justine Greening at the launch of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.

The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP

I am delighted to be here at the launch of this Global Partnership. In my past life I was an accountant and I know that good quality data matters.

In politics the thing I like about numbers is that when you strip away all the bluster and rhetoric, you have a clear incontrovertible figure that has either gone up or down. That’s the power of data.

Better data is fundamental if we’re going to achieve the ambitions we’re signing up to here in New York. The new Global Goals are underpinned by a crucial commitment to leave no one behind. No goal, no target, no indicator will be considered met unless it is met for everyone.

But too many of the very poorest people, the ones who are the furthest behind - are also the most invisible. It’s essential that we have fully disaggregated data if we’re to identify and reach them.

The partnership we’re launching today is a real step forwards. But to succeed it will need to mobilise all the key development players. We will need the private sector to share their expertise, and to open up useful data for development purposes. I’m pleased several companies are signing up to this today.

We will need civil society to generate citizen data and to help people use data in the public domain to hold their public services and governments to account. We will need researchers to develop new and improved data collection and analytical methods, linking new and traditional data sources, to enable the disaggregation of data, to ensure that no one is left behind.

We will need governments, donors and international organisations to commit to transparency and Open Data to empower citizens,t o invest in information systems, especially Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, and to modernise national statistical systems.

We must also develop new indicators in challenging areas, including governance, which is why the UK has played a key role in the development of indicators for measuring Goal 16, such as the percentage of adults subject to violence by type and the proportion of people reporting paying a bribe to access public services.

And we will all need to focus our efforts on tracking the most invisible – particularly girls and women.

UK action

The UK will play our part in the data revolution required. I am delighted to announce that my Department for International Development will be joining the new Partnership as an anchor partner.

We have been a leader in statistical capacity building for many years and are currently the third largest provider of support to statistics globally. Earlier this year we announced £8million for a new package of funding for the IMF and UNESCAP to improve the quality and availability of economic data by providing technical assistance to over 50 developing countries.

The UK is fully committed, through use of funds and technical expertise, to ensuring that citizens and civil society can make full use of the Global Goal’s indicators to hold their governments to account. And we are holding ourselves to account too - our Development Tracker website tracks British development money as it’s spent.

But we will do more. There are still too many data gaps that will prevent us from measuring our progress against the Global Goals. Just 28 of 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had a household survey between 2006 and 2013. We’re working out how many people are living in chronic poverty based on surveys from 2005 or earlier.

In order to fill some of these gaps, I can announce that DFID will contribute an additional £16million to the World Bank Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building, allowing it to fund household surveys in up to 15 countries.

A data revolution is as fundamental as anything to achieving the Global Goals. What gets measured gets done. And when lots gets measured, lots get done. Only by collecting and using good, measurable, open, accessible and disaggregated data can we leave no one behind.

The digital age has presented us with the technology and opportunity to make this data revolution possible – it’s up to us to seize the opportunity.

Thank you.

Published 29 September 2015