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“We call for a data revolution for sustainable development, with a new international initiative to improve the quality of statistics and information available to people and governments.”

United Nations High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, May 2013

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Truly sustainable development requires a paradigm shift – one in which citizens have a voice. The Big Development DataShift is a bold project to create a new system of monitoring and shaping development progress by Promoting People-Powered Accountability.

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New technologies present remarkable opportunities to democratise how information about development is collected, curated, and used. The Big Development DataShift will harness this potential by enhancing coverage of citizen reporting, empowering comparability of data, emancipating tools for campaigning, and Promoting People-Powered Accountability.

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The Big Development DataShift seeks to change the global development arena. It is a bottom up approach designed to put citizens at the centre of the development agenda from 2016 and beyond. This journey toward a more people-centred and planet-sensitive world starts with Promoting People-Powered Accountability!

The Big Development DataShift

The DataShift is a multi-stakeholder, demand-driven initiative that builds the capacity and confidence of civil society organisations to generate and use citizen-generated data to monitor development progress, demand accountability and campaign for transformative change.  Ultimately, our vision is a world where people-powered accountability drives progress on sustainable development.


The DataShift is promoting People-Powered Accountability through four priority areas:


The DataShift is working with a broad, multi-stakeholder platform to increase the coverage of citizen reporting across issues and countries. Sustained support and development of people-powered accountability mechanism encourages responsiveness to local needs, facilitates sharing and uptake between groups, and builds a scalable methodology for mobilising citizen monitoring resources.


The DataShift envisions a robust, interoperable system of disparate data sets. Citizen reporting is highly contextual, but comparability is required to monitor and shape the global development agenda. Exploring the opportunities of harmonising data streams and the possibilities of standardising data collection encourages a collaborative, user-driven process to build a framework of comparability.


By helping citizens and their organisations access and adopt more rigorous methodologies for the collection and use of data, the DataShift will help to build the credibility of citizen-generated data. Targeted resources and capacity building activities will be collated and developed to help civil society organisations ensure that citizen-generated data is considered legitimate and reliable.


The DataShift is giving citizens and change leaders a new set of tools for effective campaigning and advocacy. By addressing the challenges of coverage and comparability, these evidence-based tools provide the missing link between the data revolution and the call for greater transparency and accountability in the global development agenda.

Project streams

Over the next 2 years, CIVICUS will work with partners across the globe in a concerted effort to enhance the capacity and effectiveness of people-powered accountability.

  • Learning Zone

    The Learning Zone is an online space for bringing together existing resources and original research on how to make collecting and using citizen-generated data easier and more effective, to encourage and empower CSOs to use citizen-generated data in their work.

  • Thematic Forums

    The Thematic Forums enable a state-of-the-art and broadly representative community for shadow reporting on each thematic area of the global development agenda in 2016 and beyond. They explore how to achieve comparability and promote coverage through knowledge dissemination, capacity development, and harmonization efforts.

  • DataShift Ambassadors

    Specialist teams of DataShift Ambassadors build and engage civil society networks to identify specific needs and priorities, and to develop skills and capacities. They have the expertise to convene dialogues from experts to campaigners, provide strategic and technical support to build, and facilitate training of local ambassadors to promote sustainability.

  • The DataShift Fund

    The DataShift Fund provides critical resources to ensure that citizen-generated data gathering is demand driven. It is the collectively managed mechanism by which civil society can access funding, technical assistance, and human resources to develop and improve initiatives for promoting people-powered accountability.

  • The DataShift Dashboard

    The DataShift Dashboard will launch in 2016 as a web-based presentation of people-powered accountability initiatives. It is a new global information system and platform for monitoring and shaping progress on the sustainable development goals, and is intentionally designed to adapt to changing needs and technologies.