• Caterina Sullivan

Data for SDGS: What’s the Importance?

Updated: Nov 3, 2018



Image credit: Janneke Staaks

The Global Goals are an incredibly detailed and include so many different topics of development. One of the first questions I am normally asked by people after speaking about the goals is “Where do we start?”

And in the immortal words of Julie Andrews, I say “Let’s start at the very beginning – a very good place to start.”

We need to know our current progress towards the achievement of the Global Goals in order to work out where we need to be and how best to get there.

For targets such as Target 1.2: By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions, the importance of data on our progress in Australia is paramount. To put it simply, there is no way to know what “half” is if we don’t know our starting figure. For this reason, it is vitally important we know our current statistics to determine an end goal for any targets which include terms such as “halve”, “double” or “reduce by a third”.

For other targets such as Target 3.3: By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases, our end point is 0% of the population suffering from communicable diseases. So data is not necessary to work out our end point. However, it is still incredibly important to figure out how much work we need to do to achieve these targets. Knowing we have a higher percentage of our population affected by hepatitis than AIDS can assist in determining allocation of resources, in constructing a timeline and in figuring out opportunities for collaboration.

Australia has data for about 80% of the Global Goals. We are currently one of the leading countries in the world on this, thanks to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. However, it is of utmost importance that we aim for 100% coverage of the goals in order to remain one of the leading countries in the world. With the growing acceptance of the Global Goals as a defining agenda for countries over the world, more and more governments are turning their focus to the collection of data. The Global Goals Australia Campaign is committed to working with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to ensure we achieve 100% coverage as soon as possible.

As important as it is to ensure we have national coverage of our progress, we also must ensure we are reporting on our progress on a state and territory level as well, given that many of the goals and targets are best addressed by state and territory government policies.

As a developed country, it is our moral responsibility to assist other countries in collecting their data, especially our neighbouring countries in the Indo-Pacific region. This will not only guide the breakdown of our international development assistance budget but will also help us negotiate trade deals and assist other countries through non-financial means.

Aside from the collection of data, we also must ensure the availability of data to all citizens across the world. The more we know, the more we are all able to contribute towards the achievement of the Global Goals. Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions boasts the importance of open and transparent information for all people everywhere. With the Global Goals Australia Campaign’s ongoing commitment to data collection in Australia and around the Indo-Pacific region, the first step on achieving the Global Goals is well under-way.

This article was originally published on the Global Goals Australia Campaign website.

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Authorised by Caterina Sullivan (2018)

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