A World That Counts: Mobilising The Data Revolution for Sustainable Development

Never again should it be possible to say “ we didn’t know.” No one should be invisible. This is the world we want – a world that counts.

The Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development (IEAG) has just published A World That Counts: Mobilising The Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.

The report highlights two big global challenges for the current state of data:

  • The challenge of invisibility (gaps in what we know from data, and when we find out)
  • The challenge of inequality (gaps between those who with and without information, and what they need to know make their own decisions)

The IEAG report makes specific recommendations on how to address these challenges, calling for a UN-led effort to mobilise the data revolution for sustainable development:

  1. Fostering and promoting innovation to fill data gaps
  2. Mobilising resources to overcome inequalities between developed and developing countries
  3. Leadership and coordination to enable the data revolution to play its full role in the realisation of sustainable development

The IEAG consists of over 20 international experts convened by the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to propose ways to improve data for achieving and monitoring sustainable development.

The recommendations of the IEAG will inform the Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General and the subsequent intergovernmental process.

Download the report

Report: Assessing Progress in Africa Toward the Millennium Development Goals

While an increasing number of Africans are enjoying higher living standards, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa should redouble efforts to ensure crises such as the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa do not reverse development achievements, says the latest MDG report on Africa.

Africa’s poverty rates have continued to decline, despite the adverse effects of the recent food, fuel, and global economic crisis, says “Assessing Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa”, produced annually by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

However, conflict, political instability and natural or man-made disasters threaten to unravel the progress made on the MDGs, the eight internationally-agreed targets to reduce poverty, hunger, maternal and child deaths, disease, gender inequality and environmental degradation by 2015.

“Even after societies recuperate, the potential for development remains impaired long after the crises are over, as human capital is depleted and institutions are weakened,” say the authors of the report. The current Ebola crisis in West Africa, a region that was experiencing significant growth and development progress, is threatening to set back affected and surrounding countries by several years.


  • About 37 countries were implementing cash transfers, public works programmes or insurance schemes in 2013, up from 21 three years earlier
  • Stronger partnerships and domestic financing, with strong support from the private sector, are key to furthering improvements in living standards.
  • Maternal and child mortality have declined by 47 and 44 percent respectively.
  • Over the 1995–2012 period, Africa has made considerable improvements on health-related MDGs.
  • The Common African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda recognizes the importance of economic transformation and other key drivers of progress

Download the report: English | French

MDG 8 Report: The State of the Global Partnership for Development

In its latest report, the MDG Gap Task Force found much progress towards achieving the goals set under MDG 8. There was a notable increase in official development assistance, a breakthrough in trade negotiations in Bali, an extension of duty-free and quota-free access to developed country markets for least developed countries, and greater availability and falling costs of telecommunications in developing countries. However, the report also highlights the many challenges that remain.

While official development assistance hit a record high, aid flows to some regions declined and total flows still fell short of commitments made by UN Member States; agricultural subsidies in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries remain entrenched, small States continue to face longstanding debt sustainability challenges; and essential medicines continue to be unaffordable and insufficiently available in many countries. With the MDGs concluding in 2015, this report underscores the need for a renewed political commitment to development cooperation and to a coherent set of substantive policies for global development.

Download the Report

Delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda

One year ago the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) released a summary of a global consultation process on the world that people want. The report, ‘A Million Voices’, captured the results of nearly 100 national dialogues on post-2015, 11 thematic consultations, and a vibrant e-discussion and global survey, MY World.

The current report picks up where ‘A Million Voices’ left off, and looks in more depth at the factors within each country that will support or impede implementation. A set of Dialogues has been exploring these factors and are still capturing ideas.

The overarching message is that all these means of implementation will require sufficient investment if the new post-2015 development agenda is to make a real difference to people’s lives. Whatever the specific topic of discussion several principlese merge again and again: participation, inclusion, and the need for strengthened capacities and partnerships.

Only an agenda that focuses on effective implementation, including through these aspects, will do justice to the aspirations and hopes of the millions of people around the world who have guided governments to this new agenda— the future they want.

“MDGs- We must finish the job.” says UN Secretary-General

Launching new report, MDG Advocates outline challenges and opportunities for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by end of 2015

Led by the Prime Minister of Norway and President of the Republic of Rwanda, the MDG Leaders praise successes of improving people’s lives and demand more action

New York, 25 September 2014—The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an end to the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals while speaking to 300 global leaders gathered at a high level event convened by the MDG Advocacy Group.

“The Millennium Development Goals have been the greatest anti-poverty push in history,” Mr. Ban said. “New partnerships have been established. New actors have been engaged. Now we must finish the job.”

The lives of millions of people worldwide have improved due to concerted efforts – at the global, regional, national and local levels – to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs are eight broad goals with targets ranging from eradicating extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by 2015.

During the past two decades, the likelihood of a child dying before the age of five has been nearly cut in half, which means about 17,000 children have been saved every day. The maternal mortality ratio dropped by 45 per cent. Antiretroviral therapy for HIV-infected people has saved 6.6 million lives. An estimated 3.3 million deaths from malaria were averted due to a major expansion of simple preventions, such as bed nets, and treatments. Efforts to fight tuberculosis have saved an estimated 22 million lives.

With many MDG targets already met – including reducing poverty, increasing access to clean drinking water, improving the lives of slum dwellers, and achieving gender parity in primary school – many more targets are also within reach by the end of 2015.

Global leaders call for action
The MDG Advocates convened a high-level event to showcase the successes of the eight MDGs to deliver a healthier, equitable and more sustainable future, and launched the MDG Advocates’ Leaders Report, which was presented by MDG Advocate Graça Machel.

The report, entitled “Accelerating Action: Global Leaders on Challenges and Opportunities for MDG Achievement.” features a range of contributions from 37 world leaders, including by the Secretary-General, MDG Advocacy Group Co-Chairs and members, Heads of State and Government, UN leaders, experts and champions of the MDGs, such as girls education champion Malala Yousafzai.

Invest in education, health, sanitation and agriculture
“All of us, whether in government, business, or civil society, have to keep pushing, not just to December 2015, but beyond,” write Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, and Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda. ”The MDG deadline, after all, is not the finish line of the race, and there will be neither medals nor rest.”

The unfinished business of the MDGs remains the focus of the MDG leaders who underlined the need to invest in education, adolescent girls and women’s empowerment, scaling up efforts to fight child and maternal mortality and investing agriculture as well as water and in sanitation to end open defecation.

One way to accelerate progress is to share innovations by learning from the experiences of others,” Prime Minister Solberg and President Kagame write. “We have to cultivate cross-sectorial efforts and broad partnerships in the year ahead so that we can accelerate synergies, including between education and health as well as gender equality. Our experience as leaders is that it is a common sense that often requires the most sustained advocacy.”

The gains derived from investing in the MDGs were underlined by experts, and MDG leaders such as Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser who stressed that “getting all children into basic education could boost economic growth by 2 per cent in low-income countries.”

Contributors to the report and MDG Advocates Jeffrey Sachs and Graça Machel write that, “African countries such as Malawi and Rwanda have shown how effective public-private investments in agriculture can multiply yields.”

“The UN’s Millennium Development Goals have allowed for unprecedented progress against some of our most pressing development challenges. Our efforts against malaria have helped to drive many of these advances,” said Executive Director of Roll Back Malaria, Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traore “Sustained commitment and collaboration is essential to ensure continued progress and stands to yield incredible dividends — the global economic benefits from sustained malaria-control efforts alone between 2013 and 2035 have been estimated at US $207 billion.”

Innovative data analytics
As part of the United Nations ongoing efforts to highlight the tremendous progress made on the MDGs, an initiative to map official UN data in partnership with Microsoft was initiated. This new visualization, which can be seen at www.mdgleaders.org, represents an innovative approach to communicating progress made toward poverty eradication and galvanizes momentum for the final 500 days for MDG realization.

By using Microsoft’s Power View to demonstrate data in an accessible and digestible format, the aim is to tell the story of the progress made toward eradicating global poverty, and inspire continued global efforts.

About the Secretary-General’s Advocacy Group
To galvanize support for the Millennium Development Goals, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in June 2010 established an Advocacy Group of eminent personalities who have shown outstanding leadership in promoting the implementation of the Goals — in such fields as education, food security, health, environment, and the empowerment of women. The Group supports the Secretary-General in building political will and mobilizing global action for the benefit of the poor and most vulnerable, aiming for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 target date.

For more information, see www.mdgleaders.org

Media Contact:
UN Department of Public Information
Mr. Wynne Boelt boelt@un.org, +1 212 963 8264

United Nations Millennium Campaign and Microsoft Announce Partnership to take on Data Revolution

New York, NY – Wednesday 24th September 2014: New visualizations of 15 years worth of data on the Millennium Development Goals, five million citizen voices on the next development agenda and over two hundred million Twitter conversations were unveiled at an event hosted by Microsoft in their new Technology Center in Times Square.

The event will bring together members of the newly formed Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, leaders in the technology sector, civil society, UN representatives and private sector partners to explore these and other initiatives in a ‘Data Playground’.

“There is a great deal of talk on the data revolution and what exactly it means for the next development agenda. This event will showcase two main ways to demonstrate this ‘revolution’ – by showing new ways of understanding existing datasets, like we have on the MDGs; and how to form an understanding of new forms of data, such as from social media”, said Corinne Woods, director of the UN Millennium Campaign.

MDG Data – http://www.mdgleaders.org/data-visualizations
5 Million Voices – http://data.myworld2015.org/
Twitter Analysis – http://post2015.unglobalpulse.net/

Since the Millennium Development Goals were launched in 2000, millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. As part of the UN Millennium Campaign’s ongoing efforts to highlight the tremendous progress made on the MDGs, we are launching an unprecedented initiative to map official UN data in partnership with Microsoft.

This new visualization represents an innovative approach to communicating progress made toward poverty eradication and galvanize momentum as we rally in the final 500 days for MDG realization. By using Power View to demonstrate data in an accessible and digestible format we can tell the story of the unprecedented progress made toward eradicating global poverty, and inspire continued global efforts. The visualization will be hosted on the new MDG Leaders website and compliment the virtual edition of the MDG Leaders Report.

For more information please contact:
UN Millennium Campaign – Gabo Arora at gabo.arora@undp.org
UN Global Pulse – Jennifer Poole at jenny@unglobalpulse.org
Microsoft – Kate Krukiel at Kate.Krukiel@microsoft.com

Celebrating 5 million votes on MY World- the largest survey ever


Thanks to everybody’s outstanding efforts- MY World has hit the 5 million votes mark!

This is a historic achievement which means that millions of people – many for the first time – now can have a say in defining a better world for themselves and their families.

MY World will continue to inform the negotiations about the future development agenda into 2015, and we will continue to ensure everyone´s voice is heard.

See the MY World results by country, gender, level of education and Human Development Index

Thank you!
United Nations Millennium Campaign team

Watch the new video:

Over 4 million voices heard!

Over 4 million people have had their say at the UN! Many congratulations to Mexico as the country with the most votes (nearly 800,000!).

Up to now, the survey results reveal that the top priorities for voters to improve their lives are a good education, better healthcare, an honest and responsive government and better job opportunities. This strengthens the validity of the current Millennium Development Goals and places new issues on the global agenda.

MY World has massive support among the youth. Over 70% of all voters are younger than 30 years old.

(The Guardian) Lack of toilets blights the lives of 2.5bn people

UN deputy secretary general says failure to address sanitation and open defecation threatens disaster for third of humanity

By Sam Jones. Originally published in The Guardian.

Toilets: 2.5bn people go without – a 99-second video animation

The world’s lack of progress in building toilets and ending open defecation is having a “staggering” effect on the health, safety, education, prosperity and dignity of 2.5 billion people, the UN deputy secretary general, Jan Eliasson, has warned.

Speaking as the UN prepares to debate a new set of development goals – and in the aftermath of the rape and murder of two Indian girls who were attacked as they ventured into a field to relieve themselves – Eliasson said failure to address the issue of sanitation would prove disastrous for a third of humanity.

“Sanitation is cross-cutting: if you make progress on sanitation, then you dramatically improve the achievement of at least four other goals,” he told the Guardian.

“One of the main reasons for child mortality is diarrhoea and dysentery because of bad water and a lack of sanitation. You get a much better way of working with maternal health issues: I can’t tell you how many women are dying in childbirth because of a lack of clean water. You’ll affect education, because people can’t go to school when they have these huge problems, and you will have productive people who can go to work.”

Eliasson said building toilets for women was fundamental to gender equality, education – and safety. “In Africa, in particular, there is an unfortunate situation where girls don’t have toilets in their schools,” he said. “It’s very easy to arrange them for the boys, but girls require more privacy. And then you get into the area that we saw in that horrible example in India, when the girls went out at night and were raped and killed. This is done in innumerable cases: men preying on young girls who are going out like that.”

Sanitation two WEB

According to the UN, 2.5 billion people still lack “improved sanitation facilities” – defined as ones that “hygienically separate human excreta from human contact”, down only 7% since 1990, when 2.7 billion lacked access, and more than a billion people – most of whom live in rural areas – have to defecate in gutters, behind bushes or into water.

More people have access to mobile phones than toilets, it says.

“This, for me, is one of the most drastic and sad examples of the loss of dignity: allowing 1.1 billion people in 22 countries to practise open defecation,” said Eliasson. “Apart from the human dignity aspect, there is the health aspect and the environmental aspect.”

Eliasson, a former chairman of WaterAid Sweden, said he was driven to speak out by memories of the children he had seen die from diarrhoea, dysentery and dehydration. “It’s a very concrete challenge and it’s not rocket science,” he said. “We need to do something about it.”

Although he was heartened to see governments belatedly waking up to the importance of sanitation, progress has been far too slow. The millennium development goal (MDG) on sanitation – which aims to halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation by the end of next year – is unlikely to be met, he said.

“I think we have seen progress on water, although there are still 780 million people without safe water. But I am sad to say that we have not seen the same pace of progress on sanitation. On the contrary, I would say the sanitation goal is one of the most lagging of all the goals, and that is why we have tried our best to speed up the work for achieving it by the end of next year.” He said the fact that sanitation and water are likely to have their own standalone place among the sustainable development goals (SDG), which will succeed the MDGs, was “a sad confirmation” of international inaction. But he said he was at least encouraged to see it was already a high priority; during the formulation of the MDGs it had to be added by a specific resolution.

Age-old taboos around toilets and defecation, he added, were finally breaking down. He pointed to India, where the new prime minister, Narendra Modi, tackled the issue during his election campaign, calling on the nation to build “toilets first and temples later”.

Sanitation four WEB

In sub-Saharan Africa, too, the issue is increasingly on the agenda. In July, the prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – a state blighted by sexual violence – told the Guardian provision of toilets had a direct bearing on education and gender equality. “It’s not just about classrooms, you also need toilets, and providing toilets for boys and toilets for girls limits the risk of girls being attacked when they go to the toilet,” said Augustin Matata Ponyo. “And that provision encourages parents to send their children to school, because they feel reassured that those toilets mean their daughters won’t be attacked.”

Eliasson said he would be very surprised if water, sanitation and hygiene did not figure “very highly” in the SDGs. “[It’s] such a good investment: invest in sanitation and you will have concrete results with positive changes for people’s lives,” he said. “The economic losses are tremendous and the economic gains are enormous.”

He said the focus now needed to switch from rural areas to urban ones as more and more people leave their traditional ways of life in search of opportunities in towns and cities where no infrastructure exists.

“It’s most often the poor people who move into the urban, sprawling areas of poor countries, and the infrastructure does not exist, and the collective water and sanitation arrangements are not made,” he said. “That’s when you have the big risks of outbreaks of diarrhoea and dysentery.”

Asked what the consequences of any further inaction would be for the hundreds of millions of people still in desperate need of a clean and safe place to defecate, he was blunt: “They would be disastrous. We simply have to do this.”

‘A world of toilets for all’

The international coalition seeking to break the taboos around the twin issues of toilet provision and open defecation is an unlikely one, comprising among others, a 73-year-old Swedish diplomat, the government of Singapore and a bright green Sesame Street resident by the name of Raya.

Eliasson has long campaigned for improved sanitation. Sometimes, he reflects, undiplomatic language is called for.

“I remember I finished a speech once, where the original text was, ‘We have to work for a life of dignity for all’. And that was code language for sanitation,” he says. “I changed that line to: ‘We have to work for a world of toilets for all’. I can tell you, there were lots of raised eyebrows and confusion in the translators’ booths.”

Eliasson says things have moved on since, especially as the term open defecation – “which is a euphemism in itself” – entered diplomatic discourse.

Credit, he says, must also go to Singapore, which last year successfully proposed that the UN designate 19 November as World Toilet Day as a way of focusing global attention on sanitation issues.

MDG Urinals at a petrol station near Accra, Ghana

Last but not least is Raya, whose brief is to teach children in Bangladesh, India and Nigeria about the importance of proper toilet habits.

“We need more toilets,” she told the UN in May. “With more toilets in schools and pledges around the world, we can stop millions of children and grown-ups from getting sick. Then we can remind everyone to wear shoes and sandals when they go to the toilet … and to wash their hands.”

World toilet day: public poo, crap compost and a golden turd – in pictures

MDG Momentum: UN launches 500 days of action to build a better world

Source: UN News Centre

August 18, 2014: With Malala Yousafzai by his side, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today marked 500 days of action until the deadline to reach the Millennium Development Goals, known worldwide as the “MDGs.”

“Action now will save lives, build a solid foundation for sustainable development far beyond 2015 and help lay the groundwork for lasting peace and human dignity,” the Secretary-General said at a special event at the UN Headquarters in New York.

He was joined by more than 500 young people, including Ms. Yousafzai, who became an education advocate after being attacked by the Taliban on a school bus.

“The ideas and inspiration of young people have been especially critical in this effort and their role must grow even more,” Mr. Ban said, underscoring the progress made in development and the importance of youth involvement in national plans to accomplish even more.

As part of today’s events, “MDG supporters” are expected to speak out about the need to accelerate progress towards reaching the targets. The UN has said that it expects 500 minutes of MDG support today to mark the 500 days left to achieve the targets.

The eight MDGs, agreed by world leaders at UN summit in 2000, are described as a 15-year roadmap to fight poverty, hunger and disease, protect the environment and expand education, basic health and women’s empowerment.

“Against the predictions of cynics, the MDGs have helped unite, inspire and transform,” Mr. Ban noted. He highlighted that poverty has been cut in half, more girls attend school, and fewer people are dying from malaria, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases.

Inequality remains a challenge, however, as does childbirth, maternal mortality, universal education, and environmental sustainability, according to a report Mr. Ban presented to Member States in July.

“Now is the time for MDG Momentum,” the UN chief stressed, noting that the international community now has many more tools at its disposal than when the targets were created, ranging from the expanding reach of technology to the growing understanding of what works and what does not.

Mr. Ban details four areas where governments can help fuel progress, including in backing social programmes despite budget cuts, and deepening cooperation with civil society, the private sector and other networks.

Strategic investments in health, education, energy and sanitation are also key, Mr. Ban said. He particularly noted investment in areas that empower women and girls.

He also emphasized focusing on the poorest and most vulnerable countries, communities and social groups that have the toughest road to progress despite their best efforts.

In her remarks, Ms. Yousafzai expressed her desire to see every boy and girl to attend school. She stressed how all countries should invest in education, which would cultivate young people’s potential.

She also suggested the need to change the mind-set that women are weaker than men. “Often, women are likely to believe that they are actually somehow ‘less’ than men, just because they have never been told otherwise”. Education, she continued “offers a chance to learn, free yourself, and contribute to positive change.”

“Always believe in yourself. We are all the same and everyone can make a difference,” Ms. Yousafzai concluded in her message of empowerment for all the people around the world.