Inaugural Meeting held for Data to Policy Network for Policymakers

Mar 26, 2024 | Data to Policy Network, News

The inaugural meeting of the Data to Policy Network for Policymakers took place on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, representing a significant milestone of this effort following its launch on the margins of the 2023 UN General Assembly. This collaborative initiative brings together the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

The network aims to cultivate a global community of policymakers dedicated to collaborative work on leveraging data and evidence-based strategies for impactful implementation of policymaking, including through South-South and Triangular cooperation. To date, the network has a membership of 52 policymakers from 26 countries, covering all geographical regions. The network will be hosted at the UNOSSC’s South-South Galaxy, a global knowledge-sharing and partnership brokering platform. This digital space will provide, among others, a dynamic and interactive learning environment, enabling cross-boundary networking and fostering an inclusive approach to collaborative problem-solving, innovation, and mutual learning.

Alena Klatte, AI & Data Manager, UNDP Chief Digital Office, moderated the session. She presented the network’s objectives of fostering data-driven decision-making and planned activities. The network offers policymakers a knowledge repository, tailored support, use cases co-creation, learning sessions, and possible avenues for showcasing/ profiling their work. A warm-up poll conducted during the session provided insights into the participants’ background on data demand and comfort, indicating an already strong base for advancing the network’s objectives.

Ms. Dima Al-Khatib, Director of UNOSSC, welcomed the network members in her opening remarks, emphasizing the platform’s role in collectively addressing pressing policy issues using an evidence-based approach. She stressed the importance of data-driven decision-making and highlighted the network’s potential to transform policy by promoting country-to-country exchanges and knowledge sharing. Ms. Al-Khatib also underscored the significance of a networked approach in addressing disparities in data usage.

Dr. Iliya Nickelt, Chief Data Scientist, at the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), acknowledged the abundance of data available, noting its complexity and the imperative to utilize it effectively. Dr. Nickelt highlighted the importance of data not only for decision-makers but also for the general public, underscoring the need for transparency and understanding. He further discussed the rising influence of Artificial intelligence (AI) in decision-making processes and its potential to enhance policy outcomes. Additionally, he stressed the importance of empowering women with data skills and access, aiming to close gender gaps and promote equality.

As a keynote speaker, Ms. Holly Krambeck, Program Manager, World Bank Data Lab, shared insights from the World Bank’s experience in becoming a leader in data-driven development. She highlighted the success of the Development Data Partnership, a collaboration between international organizations such as UNDP and technology companies like Google and LinkedIn. She also shared projects such as the Syria Economic Monitor and presented a versatile tool, capable of dynamically adjusting to different countries for tailored analysis. Furthermore, she shared an approach effectively applied in Türkiye and replicated in Morocco post-earthquake. Her talk emphasized the transformative power of data in shaping decision-making and policy development.

Mr. Dumitru Vasilescu, Research Specialist, at UNOSSC, presented an overview of the members’ expectations, policy areas of concern, and strategic use cases for future collaboration within the network. Three primary policy areas were proposed: economic development, poverty and inequalities, and climate resilience. Additionally, he summarized the expectations cited by policymakers for joining the network, which included the exchange of knowledge and experience, the use of data and evidence, opportunities for networking, and collaboration and cooperation on various issues.

Ms. Naveeda Nazir, Knowledge Management Platform Coordinator, UNOSSC, introduced the South-South Galaxy platform and presented a beta version of the dedicated space for the Data to Policy Network. This space will provide members with 1. global reach and connectivity regardless of the geographical location, allowing diverse insights, experiences, and expertise to be shared which will enrich the collective knowledge among the community; 2. flexibility of access to resources, discussions, learning materials and updates, engaging at their own pace and convenience, accommodating different time zones and schedules; 3. real-time collaboration and co-creation of content, ideas, and solutions, fostering a dynamic and interactive learning environment; and 4. an environment designed for networking, learning, and connecting with policymakers worldwide, allowing an inclusive approach to problem-solving, innovation, and shared learning experiences.

H.E. Mr. Hameed Ajibaiye Opeloyeru, Permanent Observer of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the UN highlighted concerns on food security, technology access, and water.

Presenting the way forward, Mr. Zanofer Ismalebbe, Chief of Knowledge Management, at UNOSSC, highlighted the potential for data-driven approaches, the importance of tailored support for use cases, and the network’s role in facilitating meaningful collaboration. He highlighted that the stages outlined in the UNOSSC value proposition—from mapping specific needs, through collaborative discovery and exploration of complexities, to the co-design of data collaboratives and the eventual popularization of final use cases—reflect a deep commitment to facilitating meaningful exchanges and practical collaboration. He also emphasized that this journey is about connecting this growing network to the other existing and developing networks, including those curated by UNOSSC, an example being the South-South Global Thinkers initiative (forthcoming phase) as well as the South-South and Triangular Cooperation Solutions Lab.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Robert Opp, Chief Digital Officer, UNDP, addressed the increasing significance of data in today’s world, emphasizing its growing importance. He highlighted how data and technology are viewed as some of the most significant accelerators for progress, capable of driving rapid advancements. He encouraged participants to innovate collaboratively, leveraging these tools to expedite the achievement of the SDGs. He also stressed the importance of expanding the network to enhance the collective capacity for change.

The event established a foundation for enhancing data-driven policymaking through collaboration and innovation. The discussions underscored the critical role of data in informed policy decisions and identified opportunities for capacity building and knowledge exchange among policymakers. The warm-up polls provided insights into the participants’ background on data demand and comfort, indicating a strong base for advancing the network’s objectives. Through a structured agenda and interactive sessions, the event paved the way for future activities aimed at leveraging data for sustainable development.