UNICEF has joined the Power of Data High Impact Initiative (HII) as a co-lead alongside the Global Partnership, UNDP, UNFPA, UNDESA, UNICEF, CCS-UN and the World Bank. The overarching goal of the HII is to unlock new data sources, technologies, and investments to drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Co-leads aim to support and facilitate national data partnerships that will revolutionize decision-making, accelerate countries’ digital transformation agendas, and open up economic opportunities, for a more equal and sustainable world.
In November 2023, representatives from 12 out of the 15 current champion countries came together with HII co-leads at the Festival de Datos in Uruguay. During this meeting, they aligned and committed to taking action to drive progress within their respective countries. Delegates also announced plans to launch national data partnerships that will be a key pillar of the HII. They convened to share insights on their respective priorities, opportunities, challenges and solutions. The countries involved include Bangladesh, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Paraguay, Togo, Uruguay.
Driving forward national data partnerships
As an outcome of the festival, delegates identified key actions to take at both the national and global levels to ensure that national data partnerships are successful. These include the following:
- Expanding support for capacity strengthening, particularly in supporting policymakers to build the skills needed to use predictive AI to solve policy challenges;
- Strengthening partnerships – not just between government, private sector and CSOs – but also internally, among government agencies and departments;
- Building stronger relationships with the private sector that will allow governments to learn what works, at pace;
- Improving the visibility of national statistical systems – a specific suggestion was to establish a national, pooled fund for data and statistics if and where relevant.
A global movement:
At the global level, there was a strong consensus that the Power of Data needs to become an initiative that has strong recognition and momentum. This is essential to attract political support and will at the highest levels of national government, such as by presidents and finance ministers.
Actions that will be taken forward at the global level include:
- Enabling and encouraging the private sector to share the data they hold in safe and responsible ways, and cross-country exchange of what works to convince and engage private companies on data sharing;
- Securing financial support for the initiative and national data partnerships;
- Rallying support for countries to strengthen capacity in data skills, such as AI and machine learning;
- Channeling support for countries to acquire high-quality equipment and infrastructure, such as cloud-based and powerful computing systems;
- Fostering synergies and alignment across global data initiatives to break down silos.
This was a powerful start for the partnerships that – driven by strong political leadership at a national level – will bring together governments, tech companies, civil society, donors and others to build on existing initiatives to strengthen the use of data and drive progress on the SDGs and other development agendas.
The High Impact Initiative will reconvene at the High-Level Political Forum in July 2024, providing an opportunity to share progress achieved in the interim. UNICEF’s engagement in the HII will be closely aligned with national priorities, actively supporting countries in driving progress grounded in commitments to child rights and SDG achievements. Leveraging its unique expertise on child rights, UNICEF will drive forward national data partnerships that promote data use for better policy and programme decisions for the well-being of children.
Some of the key actions that UNICEF will take to support countries are as follows:
- Convening national dialogue and facilitating partnerships around data for children to advance the achievement of the SDGs;
- Providing technical assistance and lending expertise for data-driven policies and programmes for children (e.g., national systems strengthening for children, SDGs standards and monitoring, etc.);
- Facilitating peer learning between countries on good practices and innovation for national data systems strengthening with a child lenses, leveraging UNICEF’s regional and global overview;
- Driving collective action and enabling countries to design and test new initiatives on data for and about children, with potential seed funding;
Learn more about the Power of Data HII
For more information about UNICEF’s engagement in the HII, please contact Mark Hereward, Chief Data Officer at [email protected], and Friederike Schueuer, Chief Data Governance and Strategy at [email protected].