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IDRC connects Global South expertise to the World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives

The World Development Report released on March 24th examines the tremendous potential, as well as the risks, of the changing data landscape for people in lower income countries. The report is packed with expertise from across the Global South, thanks in part to IDRC.
Collage of 8 people with the text "150+ scholars and experts"

When the World Bank set out to find out on how data can benefit the world’s most vulnerable people, International Development Research Centre was keen to join forces with our longstanding partner. Our common goal: ensure southern voices are not only heard but highlighted at the discussion table.

“IDRC has built strong partnerships and expertise on data for development in the last decade,” says Fernando Perini, Senior Program Specialist at IDRC. “The 150 scholars and practitioners from across the globe that joined the consultations not just helped with inputs to the World Bank report. They helped us to think about where our own contribution can make a difference in the next ten years.”

With the support of the Open Data for Development (OD4D) Network and the World Bank, IDRC co-organized in August 2020 three regional consultations with grantees and partners from Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. They shared key insights based on their local experience and evidence-based research on how to ensure data better advance development objectives. The World Bank drew on those insights along with

The World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives makes five recommendations:

  1. Forge a new social contract for data: Global South experts advised that different stakeholders, including civil society and academia, were key to help improve transparency and contribute to development.
  2. Increase data use to realize greater value: Global South experts flagged the important gaps in the understanding of data and its governance in developing contexts. Efforts should be put on improving data literacy and expanding access, especially for vulnerable groups.
  3. More equitable access, so the benefits of data are shared equally: Global South experts raised concerns about how public and private systems for data often don’t capture poor people or vulnerable groups. Marginalized people need better representation in data systems.  
  4. Protect people from harm of data misuse: Global South experts advised on issues surrounding governance arrangements and systems through which data flow to ensure they are safe, ethical and secure.
  5. Work towards an integrated national data systems: Global South experts highlighted difficulties for countries suffering from poverty, fragility and poor governance to design high-quality data systems. Increased investments in physical and human capital will be required to have well-functioning integrated national data systems.

The next step: how to make those recommendations a reality. We hosted a virtual event on May 12 to discuss the challenges ahead. You can watch that here.

About the World Development Report

The World Development Report 2021 : Data for Better Lives. proposes concrete ways in which data can be used more effectively to improve development outcomes through better public policies, program design and service delivery in addition to improved market efficiency and job creation through more private sector growth.

The World Development Report has been a flagship publication from the World Bank since 1978. It is considered an invaluable guide to the economic, social, and environmental state of the world today.

Remote video URL

This video highlights some of the ways IDRC research partners contributed to WDR 2021: Data for Better Lives