Increasing the transparency of SDG data in developing countries (unlocking the power of data through new presentation and dissemination techniques)
Through collaboration with the US, the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) provides Open SDG, a free-to-reuse, open source, multilingual platform for reporting SDG indicator data. ONS also provides direct support to countries to reuse this and establish their own national platforms. This delivers improved transparency of SDG data, unlocking the power of data through new presentation and dissemination techniques. It enables the implementation and the delivery of the SDG’s at a local, national, regional, and global level. Globally Open SDG is being used by 22 countries, regions, and cities, with 11 of these countries being eligible for Overseas Development Aid (ODA). 7 countries have received direct support from ONS to set up their platforms.
The overall aim is to provide an open, accessible, interoperable, data site that meets user needs and required standards to be reused. Open SDG is freely available for any country or organisation to reuse and can be hosted and maintained using free services. Establishing a platform and the improved transparency of SDG data that this facilitates, allows countries and organisations to: Gather, disseminate, and track national or local data on the SDG indicators, including identification of data gaps. Improve access to official statistics and metadata. For countries, a national reporting platform also enables them to: Report country national data to be harmonised for international purposes (i.e. UN global indicator database). Improve communication between data providers, National Statistics Offices (NSOs), custodian agencies, and other stakeholders.
Every SDG reporting platform created using Open SDG provides a unique depository for data from across Government and beyond to provide insight into society. It also provides a framework that highlights the intersections between themes and across traditional analysis silos. In turn, enabling the implementation and delivery of the SDGs. Globally Open SDG is being used by 22 countries, regions, and cities, with 11 of these countries being ODA eligible. 7 countries (Rwanda, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Myanmar, Lao, Sierra Leone) now actively use the Open SDG platform or its earlier iterations having received direct support from ONS.
The team is based in the Office for National Statistics and is made up of 5 full time staff with the support of 2 contractors assisting with user research and development. We are part funded by ODA. The team is responsible for other projects in addition to the Open SDG development and the capacity building work streams. The main activities of this project are to: Develop the tool ‘back end’ to optimise easy reuse by countries to set up their own national implementations. Provide technical guidance, supporting tools and communication materials aimed at countries on ‘how to’ set up and manage the site, including lessons learned from the UK experience. Provide direct support to countries to reuse this and establish their own national platforms. The practice is delivered using Agile project management. This allows the opportunity to reflect, learn and adjust at regular intervals to achieve clearly defined outcomes, and includes regular retrospectives and lessons learnt. Our own platform, which subsequently feeds into the development of Open SDG, is assured against the Government Digital Service standards. This ensures our website is the best it can be within government standards. There is a focus around user needs, security, design, and analytics. This is of course critical at both a domestic and an international level, especially when you consider that we already have 22 others reusing the site and the numbers are growing! In delivering our direct support, ONS maximised efficiency by offering scoping missions, work planning, provision of remote support, facilitating communication of SDG data and study and training visits. ONS also optimise the support we can offer to developing countries by effectively coordinating with others, for example GPSDD’s Inclusive Data Charter (IDC), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and country Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Every reporting platform created using Open SDG enables the implementation and delivery of the SDGs. Globally Open SDG is being used by 22 countries, regions, and cities, with 11 of these countries being ODA eligible. 7 countries use the Open SDG platform having received direct support from ONS. To further support the SDGs and the leave no one behind agenda ONS provide comprehensive supporting materials and expert advice on data disaggregation in collaboration with the IDC and FCDO (formerly DFID) UNSD project. This is evidenced in our experience with the National Statistical Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic (NSC) in the development of the Kyrgyz national reporting platform (NRP). Kyrgyzstan now have 159 indicators reported on their platform. They are using the platform as the main source of data for the Voluntary National Review (VNR), ensuring that the VNR is data driven and information on progress is relevant and transparent. Kyrgyzstan have also fed into platform development processes. Kyrgyzstan have also become effective ambassadors who share and advocate their experience in international arenas, including UN events.
Open SDG has been commended for being open source and encouraging the open sharing of data and metadata. The access to documentation and guidance available for Open SDG users allows us to develop materials once for use may times. ONS also optimise the support we can offer to developing countries by effectively coordinating with others, collaborating with those providing similar support. Skill and knowledge transfer is most sustainable when there is continued and sufficient resource in country; it works well when the country receiving support has prioritised this work and allocated appropriate resources to it. Planning and preparation maximise the effectiveness of the workshops.
The Open SDG model means that whilst capacity to develop a platform varies, users have the tools in place to replicate the platform relatively self-sufficiently. The access to documentation and guidance available for Open SDG users allows us to develop materials once for use may times. The Open SDG community fosters the opportunity for Peer learning, to share lessons between users in how best to adapt the tool for their needs and develop their own SDG National Reporting Platforms. Open SDG is freely available for any country or organisation to reuse and can be hosted and maintained using free services. Open SDG is fully customisable, and users are encouraged to adapt the site for their own use. Open SDG facilitates the reporting of open machine-readable data and comprehensive metadata, enabling interoperability and easier data reuse, including with UN regional and global platforms.
Covid-19, meant that we were unable to carry out in-country workshops, however we moved to a remote model of delivery. This has worked well and we may continue to use remote delivery as an option post Covid-19. Covid-19 is presenting the world with unprecedented challenges which will compound disadvantages already facing marginalised people. There is an urgent need for data, particularly in disaggregation and socio-economic indicators. Improving data transparency by providing platforms for SDG data will provide access to this data to inform policy making and resource allocation and subsequently enable us to build back better.
SDGS & Targets
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Deliverables & Timeline
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