Update: The possibility to submit inputs and comments to this call for participation has been extended to December 13th. For more information, see the end of this post.

Young people aged 15-29 represent the largest demographic in world. Their actions, as well as the support provided to them by a governments and other stakeholders, will be crucial in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 2030 Agenda itself (para.51) explicitly recognizes the role of young people in the creation of better world, and while this narrative on the importance of youth skills and contributions is undeniably growing stronger (as evident from the insights contained in the latest edition of the Youth Solutions Report), there are specific needs that must be addressed in order to tackle the difficulties this demographic faces in areas such access to finance, capacity-building, and visibility. One such recognized challenge is the development of stronger data ecosystems for youth-led businesses and organizations, enabling young innovators to integrate the SDGs into their work effectively while also supporting the inclusion of youth-generated data into official monitoring frameworks.

To fill the data gap, SDSN Youth has recently started working on a new module on “Youth and the SDG Data Revolution”, which will be part of the Data4SDGs Toolbox created by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD). The module will particularly focus on: (i) providing youth-led businesses and organizations with the skills that can help them align their work with (and monitor their impact against) the SDG framework; (ii) explaining how national and sub-national governments can include youth-generated data in their SDG monitoring efforts, with the aid of relevant case studies and best practices in the field. In this context, SDSN Youth is also releasing the present call for participation under the auspices of the MY DATA initiative in order to collect experiences and develop collaborations that can contribute to the success of the module.

Why we are working on a youth-focused data module

Lack of targeted actions on the topic of SDG-aligned data collection, reporting and monitoring, affects young people as a development constituency in two different ways. On the one hand, it is possible that youth-led businesses and organizations have a very positive impact on the ground through their projects and initiatives, yet they are unable to adequately monitor this impact and consequently adapt and/or scale their efforts to increase efficiency, effectively communicate their contribution to sustainable development, and ultimately achieve their goals. On the other, when international and national strategies aimed at implementing the SDGs don’t devise innovative pathways for including youth-generated data into their monitoring frameworks, not only they are less likely to understand the needs and conditions of youth communities, but they are also failing to harness the untapped potential of young people as data producers and users.

As a consequence, SDSN Youth’s toolkit will serve to raise awareness among youth organizations and individuals (particularly young entrepreneurs) about: (a) the importance of monitoring processes in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda; (b) the content of the SDG indicator framework; (c) the basics of SDG-aligned impact measurement and the reasons for aligning the work of a youth-led organization with the SDG indicator framework; and (d) the ways in which young people can advocate for their data to be included in national and sub-national monitoring frameworks, as well as the actions that national and sub-national governments can take to incorporate such data.

Benefits of adding a youth-focused module to the Data4SDGs Toolbox

The Data4SDGs Toolbox has been developed by the GPSDD using an iterative, multi-stakeholder approach informed by a series of consultations and national workshops — at national and subnational levels — in countries around the world. Among its many goals, the Toolbox is intended to help align SDG data roadmaps with national priorities, support capacity-building with a view to improve the generation, sharing and utilization of data, establish SDG monitoring baselines, and identify key data gaps and action plans for filling them.

Adding a youth-focused module to this initiative would therefore serve as a powerful capacity-building tool for youth organizations and communities operating in their regions for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. More specifically, it would:

  • Educate youth organizations and youth communities about the SDG indicator framework and the importance of becoming active stakeholders in the data revolution and the monitoring of the SDGs, encouraging them to disseminate knowledge about the Goals, Targets and Indicators and to take ownership of the indicator framework.

  • Build capacity among youth organizations and youth communities for impact assessment across the entire range of their activities, as this would bring multiple benefits such as: (a) promoting reorientation of activities; (b) facilitating hands-on education on the SDG framework; (c) encouraging a social transformation that leads more businesses and organizations to utilize the SDG framework to assess their impacts; (d) identifying areas of improvement in stakeholders’ efforts to harness young people’s contributions to the achievement of the SDGs; and (e) supporting resource mobilization by strengthening impact assessment among youth-led businesses and organizations.

  • Create a framework for the inclusion of youth-generated data (as a subset of citizen generated data) in national and subnational data ecosystems, as capacity building activities and tools could lead in the medium to long-term to youth organizations and youth communities being able to contribute to the monitoring of progress or at least generate knowledge relevant to the SDG indicator framework.

Call for Participation

SDSN Youth would like to invite MY DATA participants and all interested parties/individuals to contribute to this module by collaborating to its drafting process and/or providing appropriate case studies that showcase actions aimed at building the data skills of young people or including youth-generated data in official monitoring frameworks. The proposed (provisional) outline for the data module is available on this link.

Please get in touch with Sushil Rajagopalan (sushil.rajagopalan@sdsnyouth.org) and Yuri Hung (yuri.hung@sdsnyouth.org) by November 30th if you are interested or eager to learn more.

The MY DATA Initiative is an informal network of government, business, civil society, and academic partners working to directly engage and mobilize youth in data generation, advocacy, and leadership to advance sustainable development in Africa and beyond by 2030. This multi-sector network will facilitate the creation of a community of practice around mobilizing youth on data for sustainable development through: (i) regular exchange of knowledge and best practices; (ii)exploration of new and emerging collaborations for youth data engagement; (iii) development and dissemination of community resources, knowledge, and expertise.The MY DATA initiative is managed by SDSN Youthin collaboration with U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD)