DataShift presents “Making Use of CGD Tool” at High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York

The DataShift team ensured that citizen-generated data (CGD) was on the agenda at this year’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York, using the forum as a platform to present the “Making Use of CGD Tool”. Cassia Moraes tells us more in this blog.

From 11-20 July, the United Nations hosted the second High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York. The HLPF is the main global forum for the follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year the HLPF focused on a core theme of the Agenda 2030 framework; “Ensuring that no one is left behind”. Throughout the ten-day event, the HLPF convened national voluntary reviews of 22 countries, thematic reviews, side events, a Partnership Exchange, and SDGs Learning, Training and Practice sessions for governments and myriad of other stakeholders present.

During the meetings, Member States and several other participants were keen to recognise the need for strong monitoring of the SDGs. As 2016 is the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda, it is however important to highlight the role of data in the initial stages of the implementation planning process. To ensure that no one is left behind, a crucial first step is knowing who “no one” actually refers to: Which sectors of society are marginalised? Which regions have social and economic indicators below the national average? Which groups are lagging behind on different SDG areas, such as education and health?

On the other side, different constituencies raised important questions about the HLPF theme. One recurring concern was the possibility of rebranding the SDGs, as they were the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the eight goals that preceded the Agenda 2030, and whose focus were mostly social and economic issues within developing countries. Unlike the MDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals are meant to be universal, i.e. to be applicable to developed countries. Therefore, few civil society representatives stressed that the aforementioned slogan cannot be used to divert attention away from developed countries’ accountability and domestic problems, thus raising inequality. Another major difference between the SDGs and the MDGs is that the former are supposed to include environmental issues, which is one of the pillars of sustainable development together with the social and economic spheres. Environmental groups were thus concerned that this years’ theme could also overlook important aspects of such a comprehensive agenda.

Aware of these concerns, CIVICUS launched the new Leave No-One Behind Partnership (LNB) together with Development Initiatives and Project Everyone. The initiative will be guided by the following principles:

  • EXAMINE: we will establish a baseline of who the groups that have been left behind are, through a data-led approach; as well as identify those at risk, where they are and monitor their progress annually;
  • ENGAGE: we will develop a visual presentation for awareness-raising, built from the real stories of those who are being left behind;
  • EMPOWER: we will work together with national partners in at least 30 countries to build local voices for action and accountability to ensure no-one is left behind in their countries.

During the HLPF, the DataShift team worked hard to ensure that citizen-generated data (CGD) was in the agenda, leveraging on several advocacy opportunities to include civil society in the monitoring of the SDGs. Beyond advocating for the importance of using CGD, we looked for interesting projects that exemplify how this can be done in practice. A clear-cut example of the potential of CGD to monitor progress against the SDGs is the Everyone Counts initiative, led by CARE International, World Vision International and Kwantu. Together, they will test the efficacy of social accountability at scale, aggregating CGD to monitor progress against the SDGs in pilot countries. Using existing interventions – like social audits and community scorecards (CSC) – the initiative will address the main CGD challenges, such as comparability and coverage.

DataShift presented the Making Use of CGD Tool at the side event, Data Roadmaps for Sustainable Development, organised by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD). This tool has been created for all stakeholders interested in fostering effective monitoring and accountability for the SDGs, with focus on the national and subnational levels. The tool also presents advantages of using CGD to complement official datasets, which can identify and fill data gaps and provide a snapshot of marginalised populations and issues, among other contributions. The GPSDD also launched a Call for Proposals on Collaborative Data Innovations for Sustainable Development, a great funding opportunity for organisations working with data production, dissemination and use, primarily in low-income countries and lower-middle-income countries. Grants will vary according to the maturity level of the projects, ranging from $25,000 to $250,000.

Finally, we facilitated the meeting of the Action for Sustainable Development’s Monitoring and Accountability Working Group during a two-day weekend workshop hosted by the platform. Participants discussed challenges such as; considering our audience by using different means of communication (e.g. webinars are not the most adequate platform for grassroots) and increasing awareness levels about the SDGs, especially in the developing world. The audience also stressed the importance of monitoring efforts in the national and local levels, demanding that the working group support members to hold their governments accountable.

Overall, the 2016 HLPF showed both the potential and challenges for the coming years of SDGs implementation. After a successful international gathering, it is now time to go back home and build strong foundations to deliver an ambitious and urgent agenda.

Thematic Forum: Opportunities for an Integrated, Data-Driven, and Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Implementing and Monitoring SDG 5

“Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”

Today the gender equality multi-stakeholder forum kicks off in Nairobi, Kenya, convened by CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation (DataShift), The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) and the SDGs Kenya Forum.

The forum will explore opportunities for delivering an integrated, data-driven, multi-stakeholder approach to implementing and monitoring SDG 5, “Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls”, as well as other gender related targets and indicators in other SDGs in Kenya.

Over 50 stakeholders from government, private sector, media, civil society; including women’s rights organisations, development partners, academia, researchers, media, and technology enthusiasts will come together to explore practical mechanisms for working together while implementing their core mandates.

The aim of the forum:

  • Raise awareness on SDG 5 and brainstorm on a framework for civil society and other stakeholders to formally engage with government in the formulation, implementation, and monitoring of progress,
  • Brainstorm on the value of drawing on multiple sources of data, including citizen-generated data, for a data-driven implementation, and monitoring of progress on SDG 5,
    Facilitate engagement between civil society, other stakeholders, and government on gender equality in Kenya in order to explore synergies and foster collaborations on SDG 5.
  • It also features highly interactive roundtable discussions, facilitating knowledge and experience sharing from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), and the Department of Gender (Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs), among others.

Despite a progressive rights-based constitution, women in Kenya still face challenges including the ability to participate effectively in decision-making and leadership. Research by UN Women indicates that over 80% of Kenyan women are engaged in smallholder farming, only 1% own land in their own right, access less than 10% of available credit, and less than 1% of agriculture credit. Female poverty is exacerbated by gender-based violence; including sexual violence, rape, physical violence and sexual harassment. Women’s empowerment is hindered by polygamy, early marriage and harmful cultural and traditional practices such as female genital cutting. Traditional practices governing inheritance, acquisition of land and benefits accruing to land produce continue to favour men.

The absence of accurate, credible, timely, and gender disaggregated data and general lack of awareness on the goals and their implications inhibits progress. Technical expertise is also limited on the “how-to,” especially in mainstreaming in formal government programmes. Furthermore, where data or information exists; it’s disparate, trapped in silos by civil society, government, academia, development partners, private sector, and researchers, among others. A recent report by Data2x, found no data especially on aspects of the lives of women and girls that are not highly valued by society. Unpaid work in home production, time spent fetching fuel and carrying water, housework, childcare and eldercare – all activities carried out mostly by women and girls, are part of a ‘care economy’ that society undervalues and, therefore, does not count in official statistics.

This forum is the culmination of a two-day capacity-building workshop for civil society on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which focused on women’s rights, gender equality and global and regional commitments. These two events between civil society, other stakeholders, and government on gender equality, offers an opportunity to synergise efforts and foster collaborations on SDG 5 and other gender related targets and indicators in Kenya.

Watch this space for the report emerging from the forum discussions, exchanges, and ideas; including a joint civil society communique and blog post to be shared widely. These will be fed into local and international forums and workshops to facilitate further learning.

Here’s a look at the full Concept Note – SDGs Gender Equality Thematic Forum 12-7-16.

Delivering SDGs: Promises to Action and Results

statcom2016-bannerBy Davis Adieno, Senior Advisor, Data, Accountability, and Sustainable Development – CIVICUS

The 47th Session of the United Nations Statistical Commission meeting held in New York in March 2016 was a critical milestone in defining the next steps in implementing the highly ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the world. Once completed, a whopping 169 targets and 230 global indicators are expected to set milestones for implementation and monitoring progress towards the SDGs across a broad range of sectors. Even as work on the targets and indicators is finalised by the Inter-agency Expert Group on SDGs (IEAG-SDGs), implementing and realising progress on the SDGs will not be easy. Significant energy and resources will be needed at the country-level to translate them into action. They will need to be contextualised, with countries further developing additional national targets and indicators to fill any existing gaps. Citizens, in particular, must be mobilised to understand the promise of the SDGs and develop frameworks that would enable them to hold governments to account for results. Civil society, private sector, and development partners will also need to align their priorities with those of the government not only to support implementation, but also conduct independent shadow monitoring and reporting on progress – or the lack thereof.

Time for Results

Prior to this meeting in New York, the development world waited anxiously for the final list of targets and indicators. Focus has now shifted to the national-level, where citizens eagerly await the results from the global commitments. Unfortunately, the challenges we face today require pragmatic solutions. We can’t wait until 2025 to scramble to report on SDG progress. National Statistical Offices and other planning ministries, departments or agencies at national and sub-national levels must move quickly to define priorities that envisage citizen’s aspirations; initiating relevant policy, legal, and economic reforms (while the political will lasts) in order to entrench the SDGs in formal government processes. It’s also time to reach out to other arms of government and entities that hitherto have not been sufficiently engaged. These include parliaments, local authorities, sub-national governments, national audit offices, and judiciaries. These institutions will play a critical role in mobilising resources, implementing, and exercising oversight over the SDGs promises. In Africa, however, we recognise the need for significant investment into major reforms to restore credibility and strengthen the capacity of these institutions to play their rightful role.

Doors Partially Open

At the global level, the doors for the NGO Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS) to engage have been partially opened, but we are still struggling with bureaucratic systems of global inter-governmental bodies stuck in the old way of doing things. As a result, meaningful engagement remains elusive. We in civil society still have to anxiously wait for drafts from closed door negotiations; speculating, and chasing delegates and country missions in corridors to listen to and accommodate our views. We can do better:

  • Reforms are needed at every level to create genuine frameworks for more structured and predictable engagement.
  • We must also create safe spaces for candid engagement with governments that builds trust for longerterm mutual collaboration.
  • At the same time, civil society has to work harder at the national level to strategically engage and target decision makers and missions before they arrive at major international conferences and forums.
  • The existing space must be defended at all costs, while going back to the basics to draw legitimacy from the millions of ordinary citizens across the world.

Role of Partnerships

Realising impact from the SDGs will be difficult in the absence of good quality, timely, accurate, highly disaggregated and useable data. Citizens will need data converted into useable and contextualised information, presented in languages they can best understand and use. Partnerships will be critical to ensure a fully functional ecosystem of data users and producers at the community, sub-national, national, regional, and global levels. To address this need, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) has been formed to support multi-stakeholder data initiatives to harness the power of data for achieving the SDGs. The GPSDD is catalysing action for mutually benefitting collaboration among diverse stakeholders. Ask me about any other open initiative seizing the moment and openly reaching out to multiple stakeholders across the globe in an atmosphere devoid of bureaucracy to harness the “data revolution” and I will point to none. Well-meaning partners and critics with innovative ideas need to join others to share their perspectives and collectively catalyse actions that will deliver results. Similar partnerships must emerge at the national-level to make it all possible.

Shrinking Civic Space

The rapidly shrinking space for civil society and other development actors to operate should worry us all. Disguised in narratives on transparency, accountability and openness are numerous incidences of narrowed civic space and widely documented impunity with which civic actors and human rights defenders are crushed by their own governments. How do these same governments deliver on their promises of sustainable development if they trample on the rights of those who entrust them with power and resources? At CIVICUS we continue to strongly advocate for improved civic space and the strengthening of civil society for citizen action. If governments are to hold their SDG promise to “leave no-one behind” they must create an enabling environment for citizens to prosper and contribute meaningfully to governance and development processes in the post-2015 era.

Through DataShift we continue to work across regions with multiple stakeholders to contextualise the Global Goals through direct support, improving the credibility and coverage of citizen-generated data, and drawing on multiple sources of data to monitor implementation and progress on SDGs; while creating replicable models, facilitating engagements, and sharing learning. We currently have a special focus on collaboration at the sub-national level in our pilot countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal, and Argentina), and through partnerships support other initiatives across the world.

We invite you to subscribe to our DataShift newsletter so that we can update you on our efforts, learnings, and opportunities to share and learn from our DataShift community!

We’re hiring! Join our team as Data Capacity Support Specialist

The DataShift team is looking for someone to help us support the efforts of civil society to leverage their use of data and technology for social good. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to apply your knowledge and network of data and tech for good, this might be the job for you!

The Data Capacity Support Specialist will be responsible for coordinating direct support to selected partners in three pilot areas (Argentina, Kenya+Tanzania and Nepal) on a variety of different, partner-based technology needs. These can range from usability analyses of traffic apps to the implementation of mobile data collection platforms, policy assessments and training on any of these topics. The position will be working very closely with the Direct Support Coordinator of the engine room for an initial 3 month period, during which knowledge transfer will be paramount. Thereafter, this person will be embedded within CIVICUS.

For more information on this position and how to apply, visit this job posting on the CIVICUS website.

Why the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data Matters to Civil Society


This article is cross-posted from the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data blog.

A lot has happened since the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Post-2015 coined the term ‘data revolution’  in 2013, describing the need to harness the exponential increase in the volume, quality, and sources of data to successfully deliver the new sustainable development agenda. In particular, we’ve seen an international group of experts put forward its vision for mobilising the data revolution, along with the Cartagena Data Festival where ideas, innovations and partnerships for the agenda were further fostered.

But it is the launch of a new Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data which represents the most substantive effort yet to see the data revolution move from a concept to a reality for stakeholders across the world. Following its launch back in September of 2015 during the annual meeting of UN General Assembly, the diverse group of governments, international institutions, civil society organisations, businesses, academics and myriad of other actors involved in the Global Partnership have been busily working to define what it aims to achieve, and have now put in place many of the structures and activities required to get there.

Poor data is an important factor in bad decision-making and weakens accountability, thereby limiting our ability to tackle pressing issues such as poverty and hunger, environmental protection, and humanitarian crises. One of the main ideas behind the Global Partnership, therefore, is the need to better link the growing number of data producers and users to provide us with the detailed, comprehensive information required to effectively drive sustainable development forward. Recognising that no single stakeholder can propel progress alone, the Global Partnership wants to foster unprecedented cross-sectoral coordination and collaboration across the full gamut of sustainable development actors, from citizens to statistics professionals.

What will the Global Partnership do?

This Global Partnership aims to be an inclusive, comprehensive platform that will support all sustainable development stakeholders by promoting:

  • Standards and policies that bolster global, national and local data initiatives
  • Data generation that can help to fill key data gaps, especially for monitoring the SDGs
  • Expanded data access for policymakers, civil society and citizens
  • Data use to improve development outcomes, through peer learning and catalysing financial support for capacity building on data use

It will do this by convening large and specialised events and initiatives, pushing for solid political commitments and action, coordinating capacity building efforts, mobilising new resources and facilitating peer learning, as well as promoting and helping to scale up innovations.

Several distinct but closely linked working groups are driving these activities forward, with the support of a small secretariat hosted by the UN Foundation.

Why is the Global Partnership a good thing for civil society?

New technologies offer exciting new ways for citizens and their organisations to generate and use data in democratic and creative ways. The Global Partnership can provide them with a mechanism for both navigating through and benefiting from the Data Revolution.

  • It can directly support citizens and civil society to become more effective, more coordinated data generators, as well as helping to ensure that this data is actually used to empower individuals and influence decision making on sustainable development.
  • Civil society are also huge users of data – increasingly using it to drive advocacy, accountability and programming efforts. The Global Partnership can help civil society unlock more resources to build their capacity to do this.
  • It will also provide civil society and other non-governmental data producers with unique opportunities to collaborate with national statistical offices and feed into official SDG monitoring efforts. Civil society also has an opportunity – by engaging as a valued and equal stakeholder in the Global Partnership – for continuing to push for data to be open and accessible to all.

Our role in the Global Partnership

These are certainly big aspirations and there’s much work to be done before civil society organisations will begin benefitting from these efforts. To help ensure civil society has an equal seat at the Partnership’s highest decision making table, CIVICUS has pledged to be an anchor partner in this process and will therefore be working via DataShift and other linked efforts, such as a global consultation (including an event at ICSW 2016 in April), to ensure that civil society and citizen-generated data are recognised as integral components of the data revolution and those producing it receive the necessary support to build upon and better coordinate these efforts.

The Global Partnership must resonate with civil society at all levels – national, regional and global – so that civil society becomes an active and invested partner. CIVICUS will therefore be engaging with organisations from far and wide on the Global Partnership, also helping to identify additional civil society partners to come on board.

For more information, including how to get involved in the Global Partnership please contact our DataShift’s focal point for the GPSDD, Jack Cornforth, at

Civil society, data and SDG monitoring: What we’ve learned so far and our plans for taking things forward

By Jack Cornforth

This year CIVICUS, through its DataShift initiative, has been seeking to incubate a conversation on how we in civil society can collaborate to use our data to monitor the new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To start with, this involved some initial research into the different types of data civil society is generating and how it is being used, along with speaking to a range of civil society actors to hear their thoughts on how we could coordinate these efforts. Given that there was a great deal of appetite to continue these initial conversations and build on what we had learned, DataShift held an open event – ‘Monitoring for the People by the People’ – in the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York this September to bring people together to try and refine some of these early proposals and think practically about translating them into action.

Read more

Citizen-Generated Data and Governments: Towards a Collaborative Model

In advance of this week’s Open Government Partnership Summit, we’re very happy today to launch “Citizen-Generated Data and Governments: Towards a Collaborative Model”.

This piece explores the idea that governments could host and publish citizen-generated data (CGD) themselves, and whether this could mean that data is applied more widely and in a more sustainable way. It was inspired by a recent meeting in Buenos Aires with Argentine civil society organizations and government representatives, hosted by the City of Buenos Aires Innovation and Open Government Lab (Laboratorio de innovación y Gobierno Abierto de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires).

cgd-govt-reports-cover-imageThe meeting was organized to explore how people within government think about citizen-generated data, and discuss what would be needed for them to consider it as a valid method of data generation. One of the most novel and exciting ideas that surfaced was the potential for government open data portals, such as that managed by the Buenos Aires Innovation Lab, to host and publish CGD.

We wrote this report to explore this issue further, looking at existing models of data collaboration and outlining our first thoughts on the benefits and obstacles this kind of model might face. We welcome feedback from those with deeper expertise into different aspects of citizen-generated data, and look forward to refining these thoughts in the future together with the broader community.

Members of the DataShift team will be attending the OGP Summit in Mexico City, and would be happy to discuss further – Mario and Zara will be speaking at this session on citizen reporting platforms at 2pm on Tuesday 27th as part of the Civil Society day and – together with Majo and Tin – will be attending the whole three days as well.

For comments on the piece, please get in touch with Zara –

Helping citizen-generated data projects in Argentina move from an idea to action

By Simone Ritzer, Wingu

In a world of seven billion people, we know citizen-generated data has the potential to have a big impact. But in order to translate the potential into action, projects often need a little support from others with specific expertise.  As part of the DataShift and Desarollando América Latina 2015 initiatives, Wingu is working with six citizen-genereated data initiatives in Argentina by helping them take their project ideas to a viable product. . In this blog post, we wanted to share our process and what we’ve learned so far. Read more

Meet the seven great researchers exploring the use and impact of citizen-generated data with the DataShift

We’re excited to announce the three research teams based in the DataShift’s pilot locations – Argentina, East Africa (Tanzania and Kenya) and Nepal – who will be looking deeper into the impact of citizen-generated data initiatives in their own countries. Read more

Monitoring by the people for the people: DataShift Event at UNGA 70

The DataShift is hosting an event during the opening of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 70) entitled Monitoring by the People for the People: How can civil society and citizen-generated data drive accountability for the 2030 agenda? Read more