On March 2, 2015, SDSN co-hosted a Workshop Side Event during the UN Statistical Commission week (March 2-6) entitled “Financial Needs Assessment for SDG Monitoring and Statistical Capacity Development.” The Needs Assessment team presented the zero draft of their report to more than 70 attendants, including several National Statistical Office (NSO) and mission representatives.

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The “Needs Assessment for SDG Monitoring and Statistical Capacity Development” working draft anticipates the cost of $1 billion USD per year needed to support the monitoring of SDG indicators, with roughly half coming from domestic resources and half from donors. The report’s typology of development data includes census, administrative data, household surveys, among several other sources.

The gap between the estimated operational costs of monitoring the SDGs and current expenditures, as detailed in National Statistical Development Strategies, emphasize the need to limit the number of global SDG indicators, identify cost-saving innovations (mobile technologies, twinning surveys/administrative data with geospatial data, predictive modeling, etc.) in data production, and mobilize additional resources to support statistical systems.

Jessica Espey, SDSN, highlighted the importance of country-oriented needs assessments; Morten Jerven, Simon Fraser University, added that the report also considers the countries’ absorptive capacities. Eric Swanson, OWD, stressed the need for countries to be more open to the possibility of using “big data” and innovative approaches to data production, which should be integrated into official statistical production processes over time. Marc Levy, CIESIN, further noted the importance of creating sound institutional legal frameworks to safeguard users’ data.

A few participants commented on the importance of including the costs associated with communicating, using and managing the data. A representative from UNIDO suggested including the costs related to sectoral statistics and differentiating countries by development levels (industrial, least developed countries, etc.) in the needs assessment. Noting that many times international organizations are lacking clear standards for technical assistance, a representative from the World Bank underlined the importance of methodological development.

A representative from Uganda’s Statistics Bureau raised the question of whether human resources are covered, either through technical assistance or local capacity building. Jerven explained that technical assistance is considered throughout the report as a proxy for how much investment will be needed, though this does not necessarily include international technical assistance.

The report will be finalized in May 2015, in advance of the Addis Ababa Conference on Financing for Development in July. The project is led by the SDSN and a team composed of representatives from Open Data Watch, PARIS21, the World Bank, Simon Frazer University, CIESIN, and with support from UNICEF, ONE Campaign, the Centre for Global Development, and the UN Foundation.