Better Data ‘Indispensable Scaffolding That Supports Progress across All Sustainable Development Goals, Stresses Deputy Secretary-General

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the Power of Data High Impact Initiative, in New York today:

I am pleased to join you as we launch the Power of Data High Impact Initiative.  Thank you to everyone involved in bringing this critical project to life.

Our world is confronting a cascade of crises that are undermining hard-won development gains and threatening lives and livelihoods everywhere.

Earlier this year, I was in Niger, and I saw first-hand how the worsening climate emergency in the Sahel is dramatically exacerbating security threats and escalating humanitarian needs.  These compounding threats are playing out in every region, and as with every crisis, it is the most vulnerable that are hit hardest.

At the midpoint of the Sustainable Development Goals, we find ourselves pitifully far from where we hoped and expected to be.  Unless we act now, millions more will fall into extreme poverty, hunger, destitution and ill health.

But I know that we can turn things around.  And leveraging the power of data and technology is an essential player in our comeback.

The good news is that we are not starting from scratch.  We have solutions at the ready.  As we have heard loud and clear today, better data is the indispensable scaffolding that supports progress across all SDGs.  Real-time insights and robust knowledge will inform better decisions to help us navigate risks and advance toward a more equal and sustainable world.

Data is one of the five means of implementation that we are showcasing today across the High Impact Initiatives.  What we need now is stronger political leadership, larger investments and broader partnerships.  This is why I warmly welcome the commitments we are hearing today to launch and fund transformational National Data Partnerships across a whole host of countries, including Somalia, Kenya, Ghana, Colombia and many more.

These partnerships will be the engines that revolutionize decision-making, accelerate countries’ digital transformation agendas and open new economic opportunities.  Crucially, these partnerships will unlock a powerful data dividend, with an average return of $32 for every $1 invested in data systems.

A great example of this is the UN-hosted Complex Risk Analytics Fund which is already demonstrating the huge potential of data for people and planet.  Less than a year after the Fund’s launch, more than 40,000 users in over 100 organizations are now using data and insights supported by the fund.  As a result, nearly $10 billion in annual crisis assistance reaches people earlier, faster and in a more targeted way. This is spending to save — a particular draw for those facing squeezed budgets.

However, despite these significant returns, many countries have not been able to fully reap the rewards of this data dividend, due to a lack of political prioritization, fragmentation, limited investment and shortfalls in capacity.

But momentum is on our side.  Data is finally getting the attention it deserves and we must continue to advocate for greater action and investment.

Low and middle-income countries have come forward to form new national data partnerships — now, we urgently need donors to come forward and back them in a meaningful way to set them up for success.

I look forward to our continued efforts in unlocking the data dividend to improve lives and livelihoods everywhere.  By harnessing the power of data, we can, at long last, deliver on the promise of the 2030 Agenda.

For information media. Not an official record.