Delegates to a major UNDP event in New York committed to advancing knowledge worldwide as a pivotal means for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda. The free flow of information and data is crucial for the formulation of evidence-based policies which can accelerate progress toward the global goals.
At the event, delegates remarked that improving thought leadership and evidence-based policymaking is at the heart of progress needed toward sustainable development. The discussion was enriched by two new UNDP products devoted to advancing knowledge, particularly in the Arab States Region – the Global Knowledge Index and the Arab Development Portal.
“Investing in the lessons of the past is crucial for achieving the 2030 Agenda,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “Development is driven by the evidence based decisions we make combined with the opportunities for the future. I am pleased that UNDP’s decade long partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation has produced the innovative Global Knowledge Index to help us to navigate a world where data are bigger and faster than ever before, and seize these opportunities for progress.”
The Global Knowledge Index produced by UNDP in partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation was discussed as a key reference for societies seeking to advance on the knowledge agenda. The first of its kind, the index measures knowledge at the country-level, worldwide, by aggregating data on national education, research-and-development, innovation, economic and information technology progress and institutions. Globally, the top performer on the index was found to be Switzerland; in the Arab States region, the United Arab Emirates leads the way.
“Our partnership with the UNDP started in 2008, paving the way for pioneering projects and initiatives that catalyze our societies’ effort towards producing, disseminating and localizing knowledge in the Arab region and the world,” said His Excellency Jamal bin Huwaireb, Chief Executive Officer of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation. “This partnership has always sought to find ways to empower youth to play a bigger and effective role in their communities.”
Participants also discussed the Arab Development Portal (ADP), with its innovative SDGs tracking tool. The tool enables anyone with a computer or smart phone to track the progress of Arab countries towards the 16 goals that make the SDGs. The ADP is developed by UNDP in partnership with the Coordination Group of Arab Regional and National Development Institutions.
Uneven availability of data was noted as a significant obstacle to development progress. Across the region, on average, countries are able to report on only 35 per cent of SDG indicators, according to a preliminary mapping carried out by the UNDP Arab Development Portal.
“Data helps us understand where we are in terms of development – and, most importantly, where we want to go,” said Mourad Wahba, Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Arab States. “UNDP and partners are committed to helping countries across the region embrace the knowledge challenge as a means of achieving the SDGs and sustainable development."