Developing National Platforms in the Arab Region for SDG Monitoring and Reporting

15 May 2018
  • Developing National Platforms in the Arab Region for SDG Monitoring and Reporting

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasizes the importance of developing an inclusive monitoring and accountability framework to follow up on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national, regional and global levels. At the same time, the General Assembly resolution 70/1, stresses that quality, accessible, timely and reliable disaggregated data is needed to help with the measurement of progress and to ensure that follow-up and review processes are rigorous and based on evidence. 

 

As part of its mandate to enhance the national capacities of National Statistical Offices (NSOs) in the Arab region to disseminate official statistics and report on SDGs, the Arab Development Portal (ADP) organized a brainstorming meeting titled “Regional and National Platforms for SDG Monitoring and Reporting” on 23 April 2018 in Beirut, Lebanon. ADP’s workshop  ̶   held as a pre-event to the ESCWA Arab Forum for Sustainable Development 2018 (AFSD) scheduled on 24-26 April 2018  ̶  brought together 50 participants from 13 Arab countries as representatives of NSOs, ministries of planning, investment and international cooperation, public institutions, international agencies, and others leading on SDG reporting with the aim of soliciting their needs and feedback on developing regional and national framework to monitor and report on SDGs in the region. 

 

Driven by the fact that traditional reporting platforms do not any more match the aspirations of citizens, especially civil society and the private sector, and also because these traditional means do not meet the statistical challenges posed by the 2030 Agenda, Mr. Khaled Abdel Shafi, Director of the Regional Hub for Arab States, emphasized the need to develop SDG tracking and analytical tools, build e-platforms and modernize already-available ones so that participatory monitoring is incorporated into the SDGs implementation process. 


The 2030 Agenda requires of National Statistical Systems the ability to “store, analyze, and disseminate” a large volume of high quality, timely and disaggregated data and to coordinate among a multiplicity of data producers. Given the legal, institutional, and technological infrastructures, in addition to the requirements of mainstreaming sustainable development into national development plans and localizing the SDGs, the participants’ interventions focused on the challenges of the production, dissemination, and tracking of SDG data.  The ADP in this context called the NSOs and relevant ministries for initiating a societal discussion on the feasibility of adopting and benefiting from new data sources such as big data, which could complement but not replace traditional means. However, according to Mr. Khaled Mahdi, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development in Kuwait, this will come with risks, and should be “approached with caution”.


To face some of the challenges, the participants discussed the importance of leveraging on technological progress and building of national statistical capacities to develop national reporting platforms, given the lessons learned from the experiences of ADP and other international and regional initiatives in developing their SDG tracking platforms. Mr. Ahmad Kamali, the Advisor to the Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform in Egypt, stressed the importance of empowering the national statistical capacities to produce, compile and disseminate SDG-related data and of adopting the necessary reforms to build easily-accessible, multiple-source and continuously updated national platforms. Mr. Kamali also emphasized the need for coordination among the international agencies and called for “avoiding a duplication of platforms at the regional level”. In his turn, Mr. Refaat Hijazi, the Advisor to the President of the Planning and International Cooperation Authority and National Coordinator of Syria’s first national report on sustainable development, explained the importance of developing a mechanism that classifies the SDG indicators according to the implementation of policies at the national level, so that an evaluation of the government efforts in achieving the SDGs is also taken into consideration. 

 

During this meeting, some of the participants also shared their testimonials on ADP’s SDGs tracking tool as an effective and advanced tool that meets the sophisticated requirements of sustainable development and underscored its replication as a national priority to monitor progress towards achieving the SDGs. The participants also provided hands-on and valuable suggestions on developing the ADP’s SDGs tracking tool so that it can reinforce its position as a centralized regional platform on tracking progress and as a data platform that promotes data literacy and keeps abreast of the data users’ growing needs in terms of data visualization, analysis, and forecasting.

 


Arab Development Portal (ADP)

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