Mobilizing data and youth is key to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals: launching the SDG Youth Action Mapper Initiative
At first sight, they might seem less ‘sexy’ than the 17 Goals and 169 targets which were agreed last year by the 193 member States of the United Nations gathered at the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York. Yet, data will play a significant role in the realization of the vision set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Indeed, as recognized in the Agenda, quality, accessible, timely and reliable disaggregated data will be needed to help with the measurement of progress and to ensure that no one is left behind in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Such data will be crucial for decision-making processes at all relevant levels and in all spheres of society.
The new framework puts a strong emphasis on the invaluable function of data, identifying monitoring and reporting as two of the areas with the biggest margin of improvement over the experience of the Millennium Development Goals. This is why, along with the key mandate given to the Inter-agency Working Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) to develop a global indicator framework, the UN Statistical Commission at its 46th Session also created a High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for Post-2015 Monitoring (HLG). Its aim is to establish a global partnership on the use of data for sustainable development, ensuring consistency between national and global monitoring and reporting, strengthening capacity in national statistical processes, and more generally providing strategic leadership on monitoring and reporting in the implementation of the SDGs.
In the words of the Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data(GPSDD), a global network of governments, NGOs and businesses of which SDSN Youth is a member, one of the main challenges in the field is that data are often “unreliable or non-existent”, and the lack of skills and willingness to use it widespread. This is especially evident for data related to youth, including those available for youth-led or youth-focused efforts. Deficiencies in capacity building, training, and willingness to involve young people in sustainable development processes all represent challenges that should be addressed to advance youth empowerment globally.
Lack of sufficient data collection, reporting and monitoring, fails youth organizations and young people as a development constituency in two different ways. On the one hand, it is possible that these organizations and individuals have a very positive impact on the ground through their projects and initiatives, yet they are unable to adequately monitor this impact and consequently adapt and/or scale their efforts to increase efficiency, effectively communicate their contribution to sustainable development, and ultimately achieve their goals. On the other, when international and national strategies aimed at empowering and involving youth don’t rely on sound analytical skills and proper tools, they are bound to paint only an incomplete picture of the needs and strengths of young people.
With these observations in mind, SDSN Youth decided to support the SDG Youth Action Mapper initiative as one of its major partners. The SDG Youth Action Mapper is a coordinated effort led by Creative Associates, and including partners such as the GPSDD, Every1Mobile, ESRI, Save the Children, and Youth Service America, that aims to provide youth organizations and young people around the world with a state-of-the-art mobile geographic information system (GIS) platform that will allow them to map their locations, profiles, and areas of operations, find opportunities to join local actions to advance the SDGs, measure their impacts and submit their data to report on progress achieved.
More specifically, the SDG Youth Action Mapper will work to engage youth around the world through a dedicated mobile app. Young leaders and youth organizations will be able to participate and take action on the SDGs by mapping themselves on mobile devices and indicating their relevant information and areas of activity, aligning their initiatives with the SDG targets and indicators. Once mapped, they will be able to inform other young individuals about places where they can take action through a global network of community maps accessible via mobile and the web, as well as periodically monitoring youth progress on the SDGs by uploading data about progress achieved at their project sites. In turn, this will help them engage with their local communities, build capacity for impact measurement, and even facilitate resource mobilisation, giving young people an unprecedented opportunity to localize the 2030 Agenda and respond to the challenges affecting their fellow youth and society at large.
At this stage, training events are already being held to prepare users and organizations for the first pilots of the initiative, the last one recently taking place in Nigeria thanks to the precious work of the Abia State Government. As pilots in Nigeria and Liberia inch closer to their respective launches, other countries (and the whole world) will soon follow suit. In addition, a beta version of the website for the SDG Youth Action Mapper is online, and can be visited athttp://www.sdgyouthactionmapper.org.
SDSN Youth is proud of its role in the design, development, and implementation of the SDG Youth Action Mapper, which we view as consistent with our mandate to reach out to and support youth communities, youth organizations and young individuals around the world. Through the Youth Action Mapper, this mandate will particularly focus on the goal of raising awareness about the role of data for sustainable development, building capacity for data and impact measurement among youth organizations working to achieve the SDGs, and promoting collaboration with academia, local governments all relevant stakeholders to encourage the inclusion of young people in measurement efforts. It is time to unleash the power of data to deliver and promote transformative changes across the whole range of issues tackled by the 2030 Agenda, and youth must be at the forefront of this revolution.
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