Big Data for the SDGs - What is the Way Forward
An Interactive Exchange of Views
Side Event of the 52nd UN Statistical Commission

  • Virtual

  • 9 Mar 2021, 09:00 - 10:30 AM (New York Time)


To support implementation at all levels, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the need to exploit the contribution to be made by a wide range of non-traditional data. Five years on, there are few examples of countries exploiting non-traditional data sources for the global SDG monitoring framework, which comprises 231 globally agreed SDG indicators. Furthermore, where examples do exist, they are making use of only two types of non-traditional data: Earth observations and geospatial information, and citizen-generated data. The event will investigate the modalities to improve this situation and play into a wider discussion, including the aim of the Task Team on Big Data for the SDG to map the existing country led initiatives in order to create ground for exchange of knowledge and best practices.

The purpose

In the context of the Global Working Group on Big Data and its Task Team on Big Data for the SDGs in particular, the purpose of this side-event is to share status of the current work on monitoring the SDGs with the help of non-traditional data, including big data sources such as Earth observations and citizen generated data. The side-event will be divided into two parts: the ‘country’ part will show examples of the use of non-traditional data for the SDGs in individual countries and the ‘agency’ part, where international institutions will present their views on how to strengthen country implementation of non-traditional data for the follow-up on the SDGs. Furthermore, the discussants will deliberate on ongoing initiatives and possible actions in order to strengthen the use of big data for compiling the SDG indicators. The aim of the side event is to provide inspiration and knowledge exchange for countries wishing to exploit big data for their SDG reporting and, in this context, country examples will be the pivotal point of the discussion. Identification of cooperation opportunities will also be one of the aims of the event.

The discussion will play into a wider attempt to provide a comprehensive overview of which SDG indicators could benefit directly or indirectly from various non-traditional data sources as discussed by the Task Team on Big Data for the SDGs.


The side event will be conducted virtual, showcase 5 short presentations with Q&A and discussion and will last 90 minutes.

Program - 9 Mar 2021

Introduction and overview of the situation
Niels Ploug, Director for Social Statistics, Statistics Denmark; and Vice-Chair of the GWG
PSA's experiences on citizen-generated data and/or other non-traditional data in support of the SDGs
Denmark and the SDGs- how much 'non-traditional' data is used for the follow-up?
Niels Ploug, Director for Social Statistics, Statistics Denmark; and Vice-Chair of the GWG
Big data and the SDGs - how many countries are using big data for the SDGs? Did I hear you say none?
Gemma Van Halderen, Director of the Statistics Division in the UNESCAP
Breaking through the Big Data barrier
Stephen Mac Feely, Chief Statistician, UNCTAD
Big Data and the SDGs: Investing in global and enabling public goods
Olivier Dupriez, World Bank
Q&A and discussion
Main conclusions and closing
Niels Ploug, Director for Social Statistics, Statistics Denmark; and Vice-Chair of the GWG