Data use within the Post-2015 Agenda

Under the slogan “A million Voices: Building the world we want” the UN has carried out a number of initiatives to promote the dialogue, debate and consultation around the world about the Post-2015 Agenda. The UN said that they have collected the opinions from more than 1 million people across all countries through a number of consultative activities such as thematic seminars and national consultations.

Furthermore, the UN is carrying out the first Global Survey which has gathered more than 5 million participants up to now. The survey consists on a list of 18 development priorities among which people is asked to select their 6 preferred. The voting process can be done on-line. See here a summary video:


This is claimed to be a new source of data on development challenges and is part of the UN efforts to build an unprecedented participatory formulation frame of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 


“I want this to be the most inclusive global development process the world has ever known”
– UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon


Words like participation, inclusion, and voice are constantly repeated in articles, reports, websites and blogs when describing the post 2015 Agenda development process. But, What do we know about how to bring the perspectives of people living in poverty into global policy-making?  The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) has launched a report that explores how previous global consultations have gathered people’s opinions but without succeeding in translating those into policies. They conclude that is not only about how people participate but also the way the voices from the margins are translated into policies.

The “magic tool” on participatory consultation for policy influence has not been invented yet. However, there is a certain level of agreement among development critics on some recommendations to follow.

  1. There is the imperative need to start by understanding the data collection from people’s perspectives that may or may not fit in a set of 18 development priorities. Besides, peoples’ needs and problems are not isolated and are framed within a context of reality than cannot be easily captured by a western-made collection tool-even if this tool is highly technologically advanced (Granqvist, M. at Hemer, O, 2005, pp. 285-296)
  2. Secondly, enough resources and time should be given for consultations to happen not just at the UN level or within the international large organizations but at the local grassroots civil society level. The cost of UN-driven consultative campaigns and traditional data collection initiatives overpasses by far the resources allocated to participatory projects from the margins.
  3. Finally, development actors should be open to innovative perspectives and methodologies on data collection. This is the case of Participate, a research initiative aiming at providing evidence on the reality of poverty bridging it with the global development debate. There are other projects already mentioned in this blog like Making all Voices Countwhich has also pioneering participatory strategies.


Granqvist, M (2005) Assessing ICT in Development: A critical Perspective. Hemer, Oscar & Tufte, Thomas Media and Glocal Change. Rethinking Communication for Development. Buenos Aires: CLACSO

Studying the Data Revolution

Data is a big question mark at the moment in development. It seems to be everywhere, lot of things are happening, revolutions are taking place and people are given voices; but the question remains, whether changes happen through social media or traditional development operations. How to measure it?

Open University of UK presenting the Digital Diaspora of BBC

Open University of UK presenting the Digital Diaspora of BBC

Aday et al. (2010:6) claim that the “journalistic accounts usually prefer good stories to complex arguments — and, in particular, heroic accounts of scrappy activists to serious examination of how new media affect political action.” I would have to argue, that it’s not only us journalists, how seem to be in the hype of new media, but rather the development activists themselves. Making a good story requires much more than 140 characters’ messages.

At the same time there are many tools for studying the real dynamics of networks and content. I want to bring up few methods that I find extremely interesting myself.

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Riot-grrrl in Barcelone, dominant discourses, data and representation

I hope you can bare with me to see the points through the blurry presentation and unstructured train of thought…

In this blog we all touch upon the issue of representation in different ways, and generally the approach is around the question of the power of social media and representation in bridging the divide between the Global South and the rest, as well as in the role of tools for empowerment. The way in which the Digital Revolution is something that we cannot consider without also being aware of context. In my first post I tried to point towards the way in which geography surely plays an important role in the preconditions for being a contributor, but more importantly how different intersections in our social Continue reading

The why, what and how of a global data revolution

In retrospect, all revolutions seem inevitable. Beforehand, all revolutions seem impossible (Michael McFaul)

In the end of 2013, Centre for Global Development, organised an event to discuss the why, what and how of data revolution together with the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21). In this very interesting discussion, the argument is made that data, used properly, is power, data empowers and leads to empowerment. However, the what, why and how questions needs some revolutionary thought. We need to find a common definition, and a new global partnership on development data. Continue reading

The tweets have it, the tweets have it. Social media and data – why we need to put it into context, part II

Can the use of data – without relating to its context – and the use of social media without political action offline combined with excluding practices in agenda-setting environments actually lead to a decline in good informative data and a further misrepresentation in the political system? Informative data needs to stand on elaborate and including democratic practices, and it must be used to not only to tell us how things are, but most importantly it needs to be used in political decision making in such a way that it does not maintain the status quo. It should be backed up by substantial political initiatives that commit to sustainable development. Continue reading

Social media and data – why we need to put it into context, part I

The possibilities to communicate your reality has opened up for through the use new media. Today, an increasing number of people all over the world can through social media and online activism coordinate opinions and ideas. Technology is there, and there is technical possibility for social media to provide new data with the inclusion of traditionally excluded actors. But if this data is not used for transformative measures in the political arena, then what role does data in the end actually play? Because what is the use of data if it’s not used or used properly? Is data really answering the right questions, and does it really help transform people’s lives for the better? Could it be that this is the future of better decision-making, and perhaps a qualitatively better democracy? Or could it be that the use, or misuse, of data actually creates a divide and ever growing distance between citizens and political decision makers? Continue reading

Who Is Behind the Words on Your Screen? some words on the digital divide & representation online

In a world that becomes increasingly interconnected through the Internet, where we daily see an increase in media content online. Some of us are also ourselves contributing to this growing bulk of information, opinions, shared via “websites, mobile phones, data photography, video, and audio, blogs, wikis, file-sharing systems, social media, and open-source software” (Lievrouw, 2011:2) and numerous other forms of data content that is being shared online. Continue reading

Global Data Revolution & Social Media: Should Development be THAT excited?

There is a tremendous amount of excitement about what data might entail for sustainable development. This is evidenced by the call for a ‘global data revolution’, and an increasing emphasis on investing in the socialization of data – making use of the new technologies – in response to some of the development sector’s most testing challenges.

See this very illustrative video on how the UN believes data can make the change:



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Data journalism is a tool for development

What is development data? Academics argue that the internet has given voice for many marginalized communities and has widely regarded as groundbreaking invention that have changed the way millions of people live their lives. (Leah Lievrouw and Dorothea Kleine)

Still Kleine argues that researchers and practitioners in the field of ICT and development often struggle to prove specific impacts of the technology to funders (Journal of International Development, 2010).

[youtube][/youtube] Continue reading