Data for Development: An Action Plan to Finance the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development



The Data Revolution for Sustainable Development is poised to transform the way governments, citizens, and companies do business. The revolution is being defined by the explosion in availability of data resources and rapidly evolving technologies. Low-cost data collection tools, ranging from crowdsourcing to satellite imagery, are changing the way we do business and increasing the availability of data all around us. The creation and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals offers a unique opportunity to ensure that the benefits of the data revolution are extended to the countries and communities most in need, leaving no one behind.

This background paper, produced by SDSN and Open Data Watch ahead of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, draws upon the Data for Development: A Needs Assessment for SDG Monitoring and Statistical Capacity Development report to present key recommendations for financing a data revolution to the global community as well as national governments.

Key Insights

The need for public financing of existing systems

Ensure adequate public financing for core national statistical systems to enable SDG monitoring.

Invest in new instruments and tools

Enhance and broaden the data instruments and tools used for SDG monitoring, starting with the eight instruments identified in Data for Development typology.

Encourage innovation while respecting systems

Commit to a data revolution for sustainable development, encouraging innovation, while respecting the leadership of national statistical offices and systems.



This paper was written by SDSN, CIESIN, and Open Data Watch. It is based on the full report Data for Development: A Needs Assessment for SDG Monitoring and Statistical Capacity Development, written by Jessica Espey (SDSN); with Eric Swanson, Shaida Badiee, and Zach Christensen (Open Data Watch); Alex Fischer, Marc Levy, Greg Yetman, Alex de Sherbinin, Robert Chen, and Yue Qiu (CIESIN); Geoffrey Greenwell, Thilo Klein and Johannes Jutting (PARIS21); Morten Jerven (SFU); Grant Cameron, Ana Milena Aguilar Rivera, Victoriano C. Arias, and Samuel Lantei Mills (World Bank); and Albert Motivans (UNESCO).