First National Symposium on Data for SDGs inaugurated

#SDGDataLK, Sri Lanka’s First National Symposium on Data for the SDGs, was inaugurated yesterday morning with the presence of the Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Chairman of the Parliament Select Committee for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Thilanga Sumpathipala, and the UN Resident Coordinator a.i., Ms. Simrin Singh, UN in Colomo said. The two-day symposium is a platform for enhancing the use of data towards evidence-based policy making and coordination of monitoring the progress on the SDGs in Sri Lanka.

The Sustainable Development Goals are far reaching, global goals aimed at transforming our world; a global movement to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Sri Lanka, along with 192 countries committed to this ambitious agenda by agreeing to achieve the 17 global goals. The role of data in this agenda is often downplayed. Data is the lifeblood of decision-making, without which policy makers are unable to make informed, effective and evidence-based decisions that lead to achieving the SDGs.

Highlighting the importance of data, Ms. Simrin Singh, UN Resident Coordinator said that without data, "we cannot know how many people are born and at what age they die; how many men, women and children still live in poverty; how many children need educating, and how many doctors to train.”

Ten sessions will be conducted during the two days by 24 esteemed local and international resource persons. The sessions will discuss three main points: 1) Impact and Importance of Data; 2) Context and Challenges of SDG data in Sri Lanka, and 3) Strategy and Way Forward in using data for the SDGs. The discussions will focus on the need for mapping baseline data in Sri Lanka, against the 244 SDG indicators, to understand where Sri Lanka currently stands in the journey towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.

Speaking at the event, Hon. Karu Jayasuriya, Speaker of the Parliament stated, “For a country such as Sri Lanka, with established digital infrastructure, and 20.4 million people, gathering data should be more cohesive, and forward thinking. We should see how we can move away from the traditional methods to more technologically advanced systems that can provide real-time data that can guide policymaking in the country.”

Thilanga Sumathipala, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, and Chairman of the Parliament Select Committee for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development stated, “We have been working for more than a year since November 2016 and we have managed to publish a Parliamentary Report on SDGs, as the first country in the world to do so, making an assessment of the SDGs and the impact it can have on the country. For any country to go forward in achieving the global goals, they need to have a plan to achieve those respective goals.”

Participants include multiple stakeholders from the Government, UN Agencies, Private Sector, Civil Society Organizations, Academia, and Data and Research Organizations. #SDGDataLK was organized by the Government of Sri Lanka and the United Nations with the strategic partnership of the Select Committee of Parliament on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Department of Census and Statistics, CITRA Social Innovation Lab, LIRNEasia, and Pulse Lab Jakarta. Resource Partners included the Central Bank, the Centre for Poverty Analysis, Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, Ministry of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure, Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, Transparency International, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN HABITAT), United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV) and World Health Organization (WHO).