To create efficiencies in current spending, leverage existing resources and attract new funding for data and statistics, a variety of stakeholders must come together to build results collectively. This can be done by taking a range of actions under five key areas, which the Bern Network has identified as critical to achieving more and better development data:
Mobilising domestic resources
Domestic resources will have to account for the largest share of additional funding for data and statistics in developing countries. Strong commitments from developing country leaders to invest in data and statistics should therefore be incentivised. The efforts of NSOs to lobby for funding should be supported and championed in cooperation with ministries of finance, budget committees, and national statistical offices.
Donors – bilaterals, multilaterals, foundations, and global funds – should commit to increasing financial support to data and statistics, which currently account for only 0.33% of total ODA. Various options are available. For instance, donors could establish a fresh pooling arrangement to fund system-wide improvements. Donors could also coalesce around a ‘data compact for the poor’. Multilateral donors – regional and international financial institutions and UN agencies – have been key partners of national statisticians all around the world. They could commit to scaling up their support to data and statistics. Coordinating the use of their resources with any new mechanisms that will be established has to be a priority.
Development cooperation actors should streamline their support, follow best practices, and adhere to aid transparency standards. To avoid duplication, actors could commit to using country-produced data wherever possible and to sharing their own data whenever collection cannot be avoided. They could also commit to allocating a small percentage of their project funds to strengthening relevant data and statistical systems. This should help spark a virtuous cycle in which increased demand leads to increased use, which will thereby strengthen and improve the statistical system to respond to growing demand. This can also help ensure investments follow a holistic strategy to develop capacity of the system as opposed to piecemeal interventions.
There is ample scope to strengthen coordination between donors and among donors and partner countries, promote south-south cooperation, and harness digital technologies to make the status quo of funding for statistics more cost-efficient. Online platforms that provide information on data supply and demand could be useful to better understand existing gaps.
Leveraging sectoral funds
Sectoral data investments are valuable as they aim to strengthen core systems that can support and sustain outcomes in areas such as health and agriculture. There are opportunities to gain efficiencies in such investments and make them more sustainable by connecting them to national statistical systems. Improved integration between administrative data systems and core statistical systems can have cost-saving benefits, work towards closing data gaps, and lead to a stronger national statistical system overall. Exploring how to connect lessons learned from sectoral project and fund invests in data and how to leverage the benefits across sectors could help build a stronger foundation for countries’ statistical and administrative systems.
The Bern Network is working to make these suggestions a reality. It aims to launch concrete commitments at the United Nations World Data Forum 2020 in Bern, Switzerland. Through a process of consultation and co-creation, carried out at events around the world that are part of the official ‘Road to Bern’, we hope to achieve outcomes that are ambitious and have the buy-in of governments and other partners.