Information and knowledge in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

ImageUntil mid-March 2014, there is a public consultation regarding the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network based on a public consultation document. I have had a read through the document and searched for information and knowledge, but these appear to be conceived as marginal to development.

‘Knowledge’ is only mentioned 4 times in the whole document (pp. 48, 60, 61 and 87), namely ‘knowledge of regional and global tipping points’, Target 3c youth ‘improve knowledge skills and competencies’ ‘knowledge of how to register a child’ ‘expension of business and knowledge services to farmers’. My conclusion is that we live in a global society in which knowledge is key to all sorts of processes but also to self-determination and individual growth, and the SDGs seems to ignore this.

Information’ has a more honourable mention in terms of number of references:
information gathering systems (pp. 4-5)
systems-based information (p.33);
information on women and domestic work (p. 63);
countries collecting data on a regular basis; WHO triangulation of data; weak information systems (p. 75);
alcohol consumption  (p. 79) and emotion reports (80);
information reports to farmers (p. 80);
ICTs in urban areas (p. 94);
indicators of biodiversity (p. 112), forests (113) and fisheries (116);
Goal 10 ‘transparency, accountability, access to information’ (p. 122);
accounting, and info management of national statistical systems (p. 123);
financial info (p. 125); and
Goal 10c ICTs and broadband, Indicator 99 (p. 129).

General conclusions

  • Very instrumental attitude to information and knowledge (four mentions!)
  • No recognition that development is not only an economic process but that culture, arts, language are all crucial.
  • No recognition that development is an endogenous process, and the importance of participation, consultation of citizens seem to go out of the window.
  • The description of how they are going to collect the information (pages 5-7) makes no reference about how they are going to make this available disaggregated for governments, citizens and civil society to use. This needs its own consultation process.
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