Data is now understood as vital for enabling governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector to make informed decisions and measure progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs). Whilst data has been elevated as a solution to collective inaction, namely as a means to put pressure on states and ensure they fulfill their political commitments, data itself presents a number of technical, ethical, and therefore political dilemmas. The growing turn to data as a means of knowing and governing global problems thus requires a multidisciplinary, inclusive, and cross-sectoral dialogue.
To provide a space and facilitate such dialogues in Geneva, a city with a unique ecosystem of organizations working on sustainable development issues, the SDG Lab together with the Geneva Graduate Institute and Deloitte Switzerland is proposing to convene a “Geneva SDG Data Forum”.
On 11 November 2022, as a first event to consolidate this multi stakeholder forum on SDG data, the Geneva Graduate Institute hosted a roundtable bringing together key representatives from international organizations, academia, and civil society to reflect on the practices, challenges, and futures of the SDG data systems. Co-moderated by Monique Beerli from the Geneva Graduate Institute’s Global Governance Centre and Trine Schmidt from SDG Lab, the roundtable included insights from:
● Steve MacFeely, Director of Data and Analytics at the World Health Organization (WHO)
● Bojan Nastav, Acting Chief of Statistical Analysis at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
● Moira Faul, Executive Director and Senior Research Fellow at Network for International Policies and Cooperation in Education and Training (NORRAG)
● Kate Richards, Advocacy Manager of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data
● Vincenzo Chiochia, Director and Head of AI Insights and Engagement at Deloitte Switzerland
Agreeing on the importance of data to “Leave No One Behind,” the discussion highlighted four main elements paramount to enhance capacity-building linked to data, monitoring and accountability. These were: (1) leveraging the power of digital tools for innovative data sourcing methodologies; (2) building principles and literacy around data ethics and trust; (3) designing more spaces for multi-stakeholder dialogues on data challenges, opportunities, and best practices; and, lastly, (4) establishing and fostering data ecosystems through data partnerships on the local and global level.
Going forward, these topics and more will be discussed through a series of SDG Data Ateliers, co-designed and convened by the SDG Lab, the Geneva Graduate Institute and Deloitte Switzerland as part of the broader Geneva SDG Data Forum agenda.
Alternating between formats of larger roundtable events and focused workshops, these events will serve as an open forum to SDG practitioners from the wider International Geneva community to discuss and learn about data practices, methodological obstacles, and ethical dilemmas that emerge in translating the SDGs into measurable indicators.
We also invite you to participate in this survey on the launch event so we can find ways to provide further engaging gatherings for the SDG Community