Data and statistics are part of the OECD’s DNA. They underpin, shape and inform our policy advice to promote better policies for better lives in all the countries we work with, numbering over 100, across all regions and levels of development.

In an era of fake news and alternative facts, good data are even more vital. All citizens have the right to true, reliable and accessible information. This is particularly important in the development field, since world leaders adopted the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require informed choices about priorities and strategies, and for this we will need a better evidence base than we have today.

The continued lack of basic data along with weak statistical systems remain major stumbling blocks to achieving the SDGs. For example, there are no data for about two-thirds of the 232 SDG indicators, and 88 indicators have neither an agreed methodology nor data for measuring them. Even when data are available, they are often insufficiently disaggregated, making it difficult for policy makers to track or compare the situations of different population groups or communities.

A key reason for this poor capacity is that official statistics in developing countries do not get the resources they need. Aid for building statistical systems was about 0.30% of total official development assistance over the past three years, equivalent to USD 600 million per year.

This is why the OECD decided to focus its annual Development Co-operation Report on data for development. The good news is that conditions have never been riper for developing countries to harness the data revolution. The global push for evidence-based policy making and the centrality of data to deliver the SDGs, combined with new technology, make it easier, faster and cheaper to produce and use the data we need.

This report not only provides a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the political and structural constraints faced by countries; it also formulates concrete options for policy makers to build on the new opportunities and make data work for sustainable development. It shows how governments, national statistical offices, citizens, and public and private development partners can work together to fill data gaps, generating and using better data, for better development policies for better lives.


Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General