Michelle: In 2014, you led the Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution at the UN Office of the Secretary General, to write the landmark report “A World That Counts.” In terms of the recommendations on “Leadership for coordination and mobilization”, where do we stand now, and where do we go from here? Why should the donor community pay even more attention to this now?
Claire: We are doing quite well in a number of recommendations. The World Data Forum is now a fixture in the international data calendar. The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, the organization I lead, was another recommendation and we are now a network of over 700 organizations with more than 100 partnerships.
As this community has grown and learned from each other and solved problems together, we have seen amazing advances in the use of new data sources and technology. It has been encouraging to see the will and excitement of many governments in adopting these opportunities.
The Government of Senegal was an early member of the partnership. We've worked on using satellite imagery to distribute climate resistant crops and understand where needs are greatest for new seed varieties in face of a changing climate.
It doesn't make statistics any less important. It just brings new power to old methods when you can combine them with new sources. Governments like Kenya, Ghana and Colombia are taking up these opportunities and using them for policymaking.
As to why the donor community should pay even more attention, the answer partly lies with governments embracing these technologies and seeing the benefits, and being able to show their citizens and other governments specific ways data can benefit across the board. But it is not only about these individual aggregate examples.
Our recent research produced an investment case on why donors should invest in data. F, the country can expect on average an economic rate of return of about US$32. An investment in a data system in Senegal to improve decisions about crops can also provide data useful to weather emergency response or resource allocation in the health sector. It's a hugely good investment in the long term that pays off again and again.
Michelle: From your standpoint as Chief Executive Officer of a global network that uses data to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, what gives you hope in 2023?
Claire: What gives me hope are the people and the fact that we will always find a way, specifically on data. Data is increasingly seen as part of the infrastructure to achieve the SDGs and is rising to the top of the agenda in political forums like the G20. The onus is on all of us—governments, international organizations, donors—to work together and develop a concrete plan.