SDSN TReNDS engages with global experts and data community in Bristol, UK

Written by Jessica Espey

In March, the Data for Development Festival, hosted by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) and the UK Government and co-organized by over 50 global organizations, including SDSN’s Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (TReNDS), brought together more than 300 participants from around the world to exchange new ideas to harness the data revolution for sustainable development. Over three days, participants explored the impact of new data technologies, reflected on new methods to identify and support the most vulnerable, and announced new commitments and collaborations.

SDSN had the opportunity to organize and speak at various thematic sessions including:

  • Measuring Poverty Beyond GDP: this session explored three approaches to data that push beyond income and GDP to assess holistic wellbeing (including the multi-dimensional poverty index and time-use surveys) and have direct policy implications.

  • Count to Deliver: this diverse panel explored the different ways to strengthen the methods by which we count people, including the census and civil registration systems for delivering the SDGs.

  • Earth Observation Applications for the SDGs: panelists presented new methods, data products, tools, and technologies, using earth observation and satellite imagery, in support of global monitoring and implementation of the SDGs, while also addressing interdependencies across SDG targets and indicators.

The festival provided an unprecedented opportunity to interact with a broad range of stakeholders within the data community from government, civil society, academia, private sector and international organizations that all share the same vision: working for better data, to support better decisions and improve lives.

Following the Data Festival, members of SDSN’s expert TReNDS group met over two days to discuss the ongoing work program, research strategy, and communications and engagement. In addition, members presented on critical topics and emerging challenges which may hinder our progress towards the SDGs, including multi-stakeholder data governance, local SDG monitoring and legal and institutional arrangements for data sharing. The importance of this work led members to agree that these areas of research should be of highest priority for the TReNDS group over the next 18 months.

In 2018-19 TReNDS aims to catalyze learning on evolving data governance and inform investment to harness the data revolution for sustainable development.

Specifically, the group aims to:

  • Generate and curate ideas on how to strengthen local, national & global statistical systems and governance to harness the data revolution to achieve the SDGs e.g. through short briefings, blogs, and the Local Data Action SI.

  • Analyze the policies, conditions and investments that enable data sharing success, to generate more frequent, disaggregated data e.g. through the compilation of in-depth case studies, short briefings, and by documenting learning from the Colombia Data Reconciliation SI.

  • Incubate technical coalitions that aim to establish practice standards for new data approaches e.g. support the POPGRID initiative to help establish standards for high resolution population estimation.

  • Support policy-relevant research for advocacy, in partnership with the GPSDD.

Originally published at on April 3, 2018.