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Multilaterals join forces on data for the post-2015 agenda

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ImageAs the “Data Revolution” takes shape, Multilateral Development Banks, the UN, and IMF have already begun to improve their collaboration on development data.

This process was launched on April 19, 2013, when Heads of these institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that sets out the basis for enhanced collaboration in statistical activities. In short, the MOU is part of the global response to the evidence focus of the post-2015 agenda, and the eagerness for policy makers to accelerate the quantity, quality, availability, and usability of data for development. 

Building on past successes

The MOU draws from the experiences in improving MDG data. At the time of the Millennium Summit in 2000, there were many gaps in the key statistics produced by country systems in some of the poorest countries.  Donor actions to improve statistical capacity were piecemeal and partial.  Aid for statistics was almost exclusively bilateral and uncoordinated, often to support a specific area of statistics, such as household surveys or training. 

In the lead up to the Millennium Declaration, a new approach was adopted as support for statistical capacity emphasized country led statistical development plans, monitorable results, and coordinated donor support.  To create sustainable support for statistics, development plans aimed to address shortcomings in both the supply and demand for statistics.

Since donors began reporting support for statistical capacity development in 2008, financial commitments to statistics have increased by 60 percent to $1.6 billion over the period 2008-10.  And there is substantially more development data of higher quality than was present in the early 2000s.  For example, the availability of data for monitoring the MDGs has improved commensurately: in 2003 only 4 countries had two data points for 16 or more of 22 principal MDG indicators; by 2013 this had improved to well over 118 countries. 

Making multilateralism work for development data

The MOU will guide enhanced collaboration in supporting countries and facilitate inter-agency sharing of data, tools, standards, analysis to improve data for monitoring development outcomes.  When working with countries, these agencies will be guided by the following principles:

  • Collaborate to explore effective ways to coordinate country level support

  • Respect country ownership and leadership by supporting prioritized and realistic national work programs for data production, accessibility, and usability.

  • Improve coordination of data collection

  • Deliver harmonized capacity building support

  • Raise awareness, and promote the use of development data

  • Strive to increase user satisfaction by enhancing the quality and usability of statistical information

On October 13, 2013, the Heads will bring the MOU to life by endorsing an “Action Plan” that specifies four concrete areas which could significantly benefit from MDBs’ collaborative efforts at filling data gaps and improving measurement and processes:

  • actions to influence political discourse on global partnerships to improve development data

  • addressing difficult gaps in data production and accessibility related to: (i) standardized measures  of household well-being, (ii) sustainability measures, (iii) system of national accounts (SNA), and (iv) administrative data systems for statistical use

  • strengthening knowledge sharing on innovative approaches to data production and improving data accessibility

  • supporting the Global Poverty Statistics Board

These actions recognize that the signatory agencies of the MOU are collectively a unique force to shape the post-2015 data agenda, mobilize technical and financial support, and foster coherent actions across the donor spectrum.

Plan implementation will provide further evidence that we can “make multilateralism work”, building on past successes.

Don't forget to tune in to the live session on the "Post-2015 Global Development Framework" on Thursday October 10th.


Haeduck Lee

Senior Economist / Statistician

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