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Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017
United Nations
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017 reviews progress made towards the 17 Goals in the second year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report is based on the latest available data. It highlights both gains and challenges as the international community moves towards full realization of the ambitions and principles espoused in the 2030 Agenda. While considerable progress has been made over the past decade across all areas of development, the pace of progress observed in previous years is insufficient to fully meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets by 2030. Time is therefore of the essence. Moreover, as the following pages show, progress has not always been equitable. Advancements have been uneven across regions, between the sexes, and among people of different ages, wealth and locales, including urban and rural dwellers. Faster and more inclusive progress is needed to accomplish the bold vision articulated in the 2030 Agenda. 

2017 Change Readiness Index
The 2017 Change Readiness Index (CRI) indicates the capability of a country – its government, private and public enterprises, people and wider civil society – to anticipate, prepare for, manage, and respond to a wide range of change drivers, proactively cultivating the resulting opportunities and mitigating potential negative impacts. Examples of change include:

• shocks such as financial and social instability and natural disasters
• political and economic opportunities and risks such as technology, competition, and changes in government.

Since 2012, the CRI has evolved to become a key tool that provides reliable, independent, and robust information to support the work of governments, civil society institutions, businesses, and the international development community.

Open Data in Developing Economies: Toward Building an Evidence Base on What Works and How
Across the world, governments are acting on the belief that systematically making data more accessible can provide an important new asset to usher in positive social and economic transformation. This trend is not limited to countries with more developed economies. Although the bulk of data in terms of quantity has thus far been released in developed countries, a growing number of developing economies — in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America — have also been adopting open data plans and policies, and publishing government datasets that previously remained locked away in closed databases. This move toward open data is part of a broader global trend toward more data-driven decision making in policymaking and development — a manifestation of what is sometimes called the “data revolution.” The growing enthusiasm surrounding open data gives rise to several questions about open data’s unique features to foster change. Can it truly improve people’s lives in the developing world — and, if so, how and under what conditions?

SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2017
Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network
To track the SDGs, the UN Statistics Commission has recommended over 230 official indicators. Of these, some 150 have well-established definitions, but not all have data for all UN member states (UN Statistics Division, 2017). Countries are invited to submit voluntary national reviews of their progress to the High-Level Political Forum. A first review of reports submitted so far (Bizikova and Pinter, 2017) found that countries report best on socioeconomic SDGs (health, education, gender equality, infrastructure, decent work, and economic growth). In contrast, reporting was particularly weak on the environmental SDGs 12-15 and goal 17 (international partnership).  Countries appear to struggle with implementing the full range of official SDG indicators. To complement the official SDG Indicators and voluntary country-led follow-up and review processes, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Bertelsmann Stiftung issued a first global unofficial SDG Index and Dashboards in 2016 (Sachs et al., 2016). That report synthesized metrics with available data – based whenever possible on the official SDG indicators – to enable countries to take stock of where they stood in 2016 with regards to fulfilling the SDGs and to help countries set priorities for early action.
The race between machines and humans: Implications for growth, factor shares and jobs
History suggests there will be no major labour market decline if the rate of automation of jobs and the creation of new tasks for workers are balanced. Concerns that new digital technologies, artificial intelligence, and robotics will create widespread technological non-employment are now widespread. Various recent labour market trends, ranging from declines in US labour force participation to increases in wage inequality and the share of capital in national income, are seen as harbingers of this new normal (e.g. Brynjolfsson and McAfee 2012, Akst 2014, Autor 2015, Karabarbounis and Neiman 2014, Oberfield and Raval 2014). A major shortcoming of the typical arguments about technological non-employment is that there is no clear reason why the effect of new technologies will be different this time than in the past, when they did not create such widespread reductions in employment.
Indigenous views collated worldwide ‘for first time’
Indigenous people will soon be able to put their opinions across to international policymakers thanks to an initiative which is the first to collate their views worldwide, its developers say. The initiative, known as the Indigenous Navigator, will be officially launched at the UN General Assembly in September. It is the largest-ever attempt to fill the data gap in development specific to indigenous people, who account for some 370 million worldwide and are overrepresented amongst the poor, illiterate and unemployed, according to the project’s coordinator Cæcilie Mikkelsen. “For the first time, we have global indicators for monitoring the rights of indigenous peoples,” says Mikkelsen, coordinator for sustainable human development at the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA). “It is an awareness raising, a monitoring and an advocacy tool.” By providing a data collection method that is free, open source and available online, the initiative enables authorized contributors to answer user-friendly questionnaires at either a national or community level. Based on the responses, the tool then creates an index to illustrate the status of indigenous peoples’ rights in selected countries or communities.

Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomit

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