The full ambition of the 2030 Agenda cannot be realized without quality, timely, relevant, open and disaggregated data. Data is fundamental to both the design and implementation of action and long-term policies that are needed for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Data collection, curation and analytics are increasingly critical in light of the changing dynamics around data – the speed at which data is produced, the variety of entities which produce data, and the availability of new and open data sources. 

The Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development (IEAG) has called for a UN-led effort to mobilize the data revolution for sustainable development.

Leveraging the power of new data sources and technologies requires developing new mindsets and capabilities in national and international statistical organizations. The capabilities needed are multi-dimensional, requiring investment in areas such as technology, methods, processes, information management, ethics, standards and frameworks, while not forgetting the need to develop the necessary human skills and institutional arrangements (legal, policy and organizational).

There are also technical challenges in using new data sources and technologies, including availability or access, the degree to which the data is representative, suitability of the information, analytical capacity, and lack of computing power.

Across the UN and Governments, there is an increasing recognition that we must embrace a culture of open data and innovation, leveraging new data sources as part of the suite of tools to service policymakers for the 21st century.

Delivering integrated policy support requires a common understanding on the UN approach to data, planning, programming, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting. Such integration entails a shared understanding of goals, their interlinkages and the normative frameworks that underpin them. Understanding data can allow for better sequencing and help policy makers realize synergies and address trade-offs.

This requires UN country teams to work and collaborate differently in their support to governments, including its support to strengthening of national statistical systems and in the design of SDG-aligned targets and indicators. 

This four-day course equips UN staff with knowledge and skills to harness the potential of data to support evidence-based, integrated policy-making to accelerate sustainable development.



Upon the successful completion of this course, participants be able to:

  • Heighten their awareness of the contribution data can make towards achieving sustainable development and their familiarity with the latest trends in data for sustainable development;
  • Understand the need to constructively engage in discussions on the applications and implications of data for sustainable development;
  • Familiarize themselves with a range of methods and tools relevant to leveraging data for sustainable development;
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the responsible use of data.

Course Methodology

Course Methodology: 

The course will adopt a blended format of instructional sessions, experience sharing and peer-to-peer learning. Participants will work on real-world examples and exercises to strengthen learning retention and application.

Course Contents

Course Contents: 
  • Data for sustainable development: concepts (traditional/administrative data, open source data, big data, data revolution, machine learning and AI), new data types; interoperability; sources; availability, usage and limitations;
  • Data privacy, protection and ethics;
  • Data systems; data platforms and gateways; partnerships and users
  • Data analytics; Data visualization, storytelling;
  • Data and the UN: Data for robust evidence-based UN Common Country Analysis and the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, monitoring, reporting and accountability;
  • Data and the UN: generating SDG data and developing national capacities to collect/product and analyse sustainable development data for better evidence-based policy-making
  • Data and innovation: new data solutions, best practices and knowledge sharing
  • Data-evidence-policy-making examples: urban development, health, etc.

Target Audience

Target Audience: 

UN staff focusing on data, monitoring and evaluation, planning, policy and programme. It caters to officers/specialists at the headquarters, regional and country level.

Cost of participation

Cost of participation: 

The course fee of $2,500 covers the following:

  • Four days of training with a balance of presentations, group work on case studies and individual skills reflection exercises; 
  • Exclusive access to a UNSSC online social learning environment with training and supporting background materials, and the opportunity to stay connected with colleagues;
  • All course materials, resources and contacts. 

Participants are expected to cover all travel costs related to their attendance in the course.  

Certificates from the UN System Staff College will be awarded to participants upon completion of the course.

Special Discount for UN staff working in UN Resident Coordinator Offices (RCOs)

This course is part of the UNSSC Sustainable Development Learning Package offered to Resident Coordinator Offices (RCO) staff. We are offering a special discount of $1,000 to UN staff working in RCOs as part of UNSSC’s targeted support to the UN reform process through sustained and facilitated learning and leadership development programmes.  

Clearly indicate in your motivation statement how this course can benefit your work in responding to country-specific needs in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

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