Getting the Most Out of SDG Data Investments: A Living Manual for Increasing Value by Focusing on Decision Needs and Portfolio Function



The right high-functioning data system can upend the way a policymaker approaches a decision for sustainable development. When it comes to data system design, the options– and costs– for decision makers are constantly increasing. What is needed is a useful, and user-friendly, set of criteria to help prioritize investments of financial and human resources in data systems. Designing a fit-for-purpose data system, tailored to the actual decisions needed for development may deliver the most value for policy makers. Doing so should result in better, more actionable data and better, more impactful policies. This is of particular importance with pervasive budget constraints for SDG work overall, and SDG data specifically.

This guide is meant to provide an initial platform for meeting this unmet demand. It focuses on two crucial aspects of the designing for action question: how best to tailor data systems to decision-maker needs, and how best to combine data technologies to create the most value. This guide is a tool for those seeking to design a cost-effective and fit-for-purpose data and information system for the Sustainable Development Goals. It is aimed at key decision-makers seeking to harness the full power of data to achieve the SDGs.

Process Brief

A process brief examining lessons learned from the creation of this Living Manual is also available here.


Project Lead
Marc Levy, CIESIN