Using Big Data for Development- South-South and Triangular Cooperation

Excellencies, Distinguished leaders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to this Thematic Solution Forum: “Using Big Data for Development as a Platform to Facilitate South-South and Triangular Cooperation- Unlocking the Potential of Big Data Solutions”.

As pointed out in the 2014 United Nations report A World that Counts, the emergence of new technologies over the past 20 years has led to an exponential increase in the volume and types of data available, creating unprecedented possibilities for informing and transforming societies.

This data is being compiled through a multitude of means that the widespread use of mobile phones, the internet, and geospatial technologies now enable.  The spread of mobile phone technology alone into the hands of billions of individuals in the South may be the single most significant innovation that has affected developing countries in the past decade.

The most critical question before us is how can the massive amounts of data generated by the use of technology be harnessed and leveraged in the South to reinforce resilience and accelerate development across the South? In other words, how can we unlock the potential of Big Data Solutions in the South to accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals including through South-South Cooperation?

The advocates of Big Data for Development provide us with a framework for understanding the context in which we live. They say that while traditional early-warning systems and data collected through conventional methods such as surveys and statistics can generate relevant information, the digital revolution presents a tremendous opportunity to gain richer insight into the human experience.  This lends itself to strengthening and enhancing the ability of governments to respond effectively to crises and indeed sometimes avoid them altogether.

Household surveys are useful. They are used to inform policy makers on a wide range of issues. However, we know now that there are more than 350 million people  worldwide not covered by this traditional approach to data collection.  There could be many more people living on less than US$1.90 a day than current estimates suggest, simply because they have not been included in official surveys.

Big Data for Development initiatives are responding to this information gap.  It is already being used in many instances – for example to assess poverty in rural areas, improve the productivity of the public sector, create a more responsive social protection system, strengthen the resilience of cities against climate change and provide information of higher granularity for urban transportation planning.

We have assembled an illustrious panel here today to address a topic of growing importance in the international development architecture.  Essentially, how can we leverage the tremendous value of large and very complex sets of real-time and accumulated data to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals?

Of particular interest to us here today are successes that are taking root in the Global South – that is to say the 80 per cent of the world that is considered to be in the process of developing.  We are also looking at ways to empower, upscale and replicate these successes across borders within the South through South-South Cooperation.  In other words, the objective of this thematic solution forum is to help answer how big data, data solutions and analytics can inform South-South decision-making processes and address regional integration and cross-border development efforts and, more broadly, progress made towards the SDGs.  

With this in mind I would like to recognize each and every one of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to come to Antalya and to share your insights with us.