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The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) is a center within the Earth Institute at Columbia University. CIESIN works at the intersection of the social, natural, and information sciences, and specializes in on-line data and information management, spatial data integration and training, and interdisciplinary research related to human interactions in the environment.

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Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data to be Launched

Aerial images of four areas, from left to right clockwise: arid river system, road network, farming network and lake

CIESIN is joining a coalition of national governments, international organizations, foundations, private sector companies, and other organizations in launching a Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, aimed at providing financial, political, and technical support for data management and access needed to achieve the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A Global Partnership is one of the recommendations made by the United Nations Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development (IEAG) in its fall 2014 report, A World That Counts.

A critical need to be addressed by the Global Partnership is to integrate a range of new data sources and monitoring approaches with existing statistical systems and to scale these up to meet the challenge of sustainable development from local to global scales. Earth observations and geospatial data are increasingly recognized as key resources not only for developing policy-relevant indicators in support of the SDG process, but also as vital management tools in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of development investments and ensuring accountability. However, the human and financial resources needed to access and utilize these information resources are often lacking, especially in developing countries. The Global Partnership will help address this gap.

In support of planning for the Global Partnership, CIESIN has been working closely with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Open Data Watch. Earlier this year, several CIESIN staff members contributed to the SDSN report, “Data for Development: A Needs Assessment for SDG Monitoring and Statistical Capacity Development,” which identified eight instruments as the primary basis of SDG indicators, including geospatial information systems and earth observations. The report develops an initial estimate for new data and monitoring resources of just over $1 billion a year, drawn from a mix of government annual budgets and overseas development aid. This is a small investment compared with the many billions invested in development annually. 

More recently, SDSN and Open Data Watch have released “Data for Development: An Action Plan to Finance the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development,” which proposes global and national efforts to ensure adequate public financing for core national data systems, to enhance and broaden data instruments for SDG monitoring, and to expand the reach and benefits of the data revolution to the least-developed countries. CIESIN contributed case study material and other inputs to the report.

Other participants in the Global Partnership are expected to include the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Esri, and the One Campaign. The SDSN was launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in August 2012, and is led by Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute. Open Data Watch is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization founded by three development data specialists. CIESIN director Robert Chen was a member of the UN IEAG.

See: 2015 Reports: Data for Development
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