The Festival de Datos 2023, which took place in Punta del Este (Uruguay) from November 7 to 9, left behind inspiring ideas, innovative projects and numerous calls for action to accelerate sustainable development. Nearly 550 delegates from 93 countries participated in the event and discussed how to foster inclusive data in the short term. The next Festival de Datos, to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2025, was also announced.
At a time of multiple crises, bringing positions closer together and reaching agreements is more necessary than ever, which is why Cepei, which actively participated in the event, presented the Data Action Plan 2030, a roadmap created together with the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, PARIS21, Open Data Watch y SDSN TReNDS, which proposes to harness the transformative power of data through inclusive partnerships between the multiple stakeholders of the systems that produce development data.
Philipp Schönrock, Executive director of Cepei, highlighted the relevance of the issues addressed to development agendas and the importance of driving the data revolution: “Data is the DNA, the lifeblood of our work, because this is where we get our evidence and this is where we get our insights. It’s also where we have the opportunity to plan, to monitor everything we do, and help us drive progress on the SDGs.”
That is why the Data Action Plan 2030 emphasizes three pillars underpinning the roadmap: the need to build political support through the UN’s Power of Data Initiative, establish collective strategies, such as the Cape Town Global Action Plan, and identify commitments that lead to immediate action at global and local levels through the Data Action Plan.
This plan, however, cannot be carried out if each actor works individually. Cepei’s call proposes a joint path in which each participant does his or her part in building a more just, equitable, and inclusive future. During one of the sessions, Philipp Schönrock pointed out: “We have to connect all the actors and not overlap them. The tricky part is how to do it because everyone claims to have a great idea, but the sum of all those great ideas is what we need to get to.”
Part of the answer to resolving the above lies in knowing how to take advantage of the spaces for dialogue that are coming up in the next few months and that will be decisive in giving the 2030 Agenda the momentum it currently requires. This is the case of the Summit of the Future and the World Data Forum, to be held in September and November 2024, respectively.
What efforts must be made to achieve the goals set out by the Data Action Plan? The initiative calls on the data communities and all stakeholders to focus on five key points to give new momentum to the data revolution:
A central role for the private sector
Multi-stakeholder partnerships have become one of the cornerstones of the data revolution. Therefore, during the festival, Cepei also presented the next steps of the second phase of the SDG Acceleration Roadmap, which seeks to accelerate through concrete actions the role of the private sector in the data revolution for the SDGs.
The initiative, created together with LIRNEasia, research centers in the global south, and funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), culminated its first phase with a comprehensive mapping of public-private data partnerships that seek to achieve the SDGs.
This first phase mapped 394 data actions from companies in Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and North Africa (MENA) to understand their contribution to achieving the SDGs. The result was the publication of eight case studies that demonstrate that data produced by the private sector has real value for the public sector.
The second phase of the project, whose activities will be published in the coming months, will seek to increase evidence on the value of investing in and facilitating public-private data initiatives for local, national, and international policymakers, businesses, and any stakeholder interested in sustainable development. To consolidate and accelerate the data revolution, it will also promote a global community of practice and two local communities of practice, one in Nairobi (Kenya) and the other in Medellin (Colombia).
This promising path must be accompanied by further efforts to articulate all stakeholders in sustainable development to give the data revolution the requirements it currently demands: more relevance, coverage, and cost reduction in the different processes that make it up.
Some lessons learned so far from the project include:
The loss of traction that the data revolution has suffered can still be reversed, as the potential for working together and the number of initiatives that are putting in their contributions are enormous. The Festival de Datos is an example of this, which is why it is key to take advantage of these spaces to generate a new momentum capable of aligning the actors and accelerating the implementation of the SDGs.