Interest Group Title: RDA for the Sustainable Development Goals
Introduction: Fit with the overall RDA vision and mission
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 global goals, with 169 associated targets, which came into effect in January 2016 and will continue to guide UN policy and funding until 2030. Progress on the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals requires broad collaboration within the global data community, as well as nuanced understanding of the barriers for developing information infrastructures. Interoperability of data remains a barrier to collecting, storing, merging, and analyzing data for monitoring SDG metrics effectively - and improving data interoperability may both enhance monitoring, as well as help to enable and support progress towards achieving the SDGs. Achieving interoperable data to advance the SDGs will require best practices, recommendations, technologies, and support of capacity building - which is in direct alignment with many of RDA’s ongoing and upcoming outputs, recommendations, interest group, and working group activities.
Objectives and scope of the Interest group activities will fall into two categories:
- Improved data management/sharing of SDG indicator data, based on implementation and adaptation of RDA outputs within workflows surrounding the SDGs and NGO development space more broadly.
- Assessing the impact of data infrastructure, and associated quality and limitations thereof, as a component of sustainable development. Defining the value and importance of data infrastructure within sustainable development overlaps directly with the infrastructure-related SDG indicators. More broadly, defining and justifying the importance of data infrastructure will clarify this need to funders supporting development initiatives, researchers and admins supporting the work of development monitoring, and future policy development.
Group participation is encouraged for any RDA members working in areas of research, policy, advocacy, data management, or infrastructural support surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals. Such roles include, though are in no way limited to, researchers focused on global sustainability and capacity enhancement, legal experts, data and repository managers, research librarians, and national statisticians.
Engagement with existing work in the area
- Data for Development IG
- Indigenous Data Sovereignty Group
- Small Unmanned Aircraft
- Health Data IG
- Reproducible Health Data Services Working Group
- RDA/Codata Data Science Summer Schools
Achieving successful monitoring of the sustainable development goals requires international data exchange and an array of changes to the culture of science and capacity enhancement activities ongoing in nations wherein data for the SDG indicators are being collected. These capacity enhancement activities fall within four broad categories, all of which overlap with the social and technical challenges to international research data sharing:
- Organizational collaboration
- Data sharing and interoperability
- Data sharing and data governance
- Capacity building
Broadly, the value-add of this Interest Group’s activities will be to:
- Create materials to support the implementation of RDA outputs and recommendations within the social and technical work of the UN surrounding the sustainable development goals. These materials will be aimed to support the work of data managers, statisticians, research policy advisers and advocates, and diverse project managers supporting SDG data infrastructure and data use.
- Facilitate organizational collaboration/support with the U.N. and its agencies partnerships in commercial, academic, and NGO space. Facilitating such partnerships will Increase the visibility of the RDA on a global scale, providing precedence for future collaboration with additional IGOs and NGOs. RDA’s OAB, TAB, Council, Secretariat, and group membership could all play a role in facilitating such partnerships.
- Build collaborative partnerships across RDA interest groups and working groups working within the field of capacity development in low and middle income countries, furthering progressing RDA’s mission.
Scope of Interest Group:
Activities ongoing within the RDA that could align with the SDG
- Conduct a literature review of the United Nations actions for SDGs, the related targets and indicators, and additional efforts ongoing in the space of research data that overlap with the intersection of RDA and the SDGs.
- Landscape analysis of RDA Working Group/IG connections to SDG work, as examined in aim 1
- Draft tabular matrix WG/IG overlap with indicators and OD2I (value chain of data to decisions)
- Build an interactive board/sticker/cards @P14 for WG/IGs to place themselves within the matrix - MILESTONE
- Identify working and interest groups of potential high-impact for SDGs
- Validate matrix in collaboration with selected working and interest groups
- Create an implementation guide advising members of the U.N. working in the areas of Sustainable Development Goals about the applicable RDA outputs and recommendations, strategies for implementation, and available technologies and methods to support implementation.
- Identify examples of implementation: Identify pathways and past success-cases wherein RDA working/interest groups were in collaboration with or implemented by SDG or capacity development work.
- Conduct test adoptions of implementation guide, developed in aim 3, to garner usability and implementation feedback from members of the U.N.
Interest group members will hold bi-monthly meetings via telecom platforms such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, or etc. for all interest group members. These meetings will have running agenda items, reports of ongoing projects, and additional items added given upcoming events or emerging opportunities aligned with deliverables or collaboration with partnering organizations. Co-chairs may also meet outside of these bi-monthly meetings to manage ongoing deadlines. Meeting notes will be made open to the public via the RDA website. Plenary sessions will provide public updates about IG activities and space for community feedback regarding strategy or scope.
Potential Projects for Interest Group Scope
In preperation of defining the Interest Group’s scope and potential objectives, the following activities are proposed:
- Select representatives from the RDA community active in work aligned with the SDGs familiar with strategies for forming organizational partnerships with the RDA.
- Assess key needs/gaps for the UN, funder, and SDG-associated organizations addressable by these RDA activities.
- Recognizing the work of the UN in identifying tiers of SDG indicators and the future needs for SDGs, identify potential alignment of RDA activities that may support UN tier indicator work
- Tier 1: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, and data are regularly produced by countries for at least 50 per cent of countries and of the population in every region where the indicator is relevant.
- Tier 2: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data are not regularly produced by countries.
- Tier 3: No internationally established methodology or standards are yet available for the indicator, but methodology/standards are being (or will be) developed or tested
- Execute a problem/needs assessment as mapped by the UN and supporting community. Such a needs assessment would likely require conversations, structured surveys, or litereature reviews with UN executives or policies concerning how the U.N. perceives problems/needs, and where RDA may contribute.
In reflecting on the sessions and feedback throughout the p13, some of the major takeaways and potential next steps on SDG work are as follows:
Create adoption/output portfolio (aim 3) for the development sector audience. This output portfolio could also frame the value of RDA outputs for various SDG goals, such as #9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (focusing on the value of research data infrastructure supporting sustainability), and #17 Partnerships for the goals (focusing on the value RDA brings in as a large 8,000-strong member community). Such a portfolio could be a brief summary of RDA-alignment with the SDG work and some educational materials, such as a webinar, describing how RDA outputs could be applicable to social and technical issues surrounding work in the SDGs. We'd also thought featuring testimonials of people working in the SDGs who recognize the RDA's benefit or have used RDA outputs in past within their work would be beneficial. We're in contact with members of the RDA summers schools and education for librarians IG who are well-experienced in crafting similar portfolios for targeted audiences, and will continue to explore how such a portfolio could be impactful.
Assess existing RDA groups and partnerships aligned with the development sector. Given the diverse RDA outputs and recommendations that could support the SDGS, we will assess their alignment with the SDGs and select representatives from these activities who might be amenable to discussing strategies for forming a partnership with the UN. These representatives may also have previous experience with forming organizational partnerships or may themselves represent a RDA organizational partner.
The aim being three-fold:
- Define activities ongoing within the RDA that could align with the SDGs
- Select representatives active in this work familiar with strategies for forming organizational partnerships with the RDA
- Assess key needs/gaps for the UN addressable by these RDA activities and form a case-statement for a working or interest group.
Many of the topics covered in the IN2N publication could be of interest to the UN and represent the sorts of contributions the RDA-community could offer. Ensuring the final publication reaches the attention of the UN could be a worthwhile strategy.
Potential Group Members
Additional links to informative material related to the group
Sustainable Development Goals Interoperability Data Collaborative: http://www.data4sdgs.org/initiatives/interoperability-data-collaborative
Interoperability: A practitioner’s guide to joining-up data in the development sector:
A Vision for the Humanitarian Use of Emerging Technology for Emerging Needs:
ICSU, ISSC (2015): Review of the Sustainable Development Goals: The Science Perspective.
Paris: International Council for Science (ICSU)
Please add below additional links to informative material related to the participating groups, i.e. group pages, case statements, working documents etc…\
RDA Data for Development Interest Group:
RDA Health Data Interest Group:
RDA Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Data Interest Group:
RDA P11 session - Ethics in FAIR Data: Ethical and practical issues of data sharing and usage within and across disciplines
RDA Plenary 13 - Data for Sustainable Development: Opportunities, Challenges and Responsibilities. (2019). YouTube. Retrieved 6 June 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaAQhjsMPdc&feature=youtu.be
Joint Session IG Data for Development, IG Health Data, IG Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems’Data - RDA 13th Plenary Meeting. (2019). RDA. Retrieved 6 June 2019, from
RDA Output Adoption Webinar Series: Outputs to Support Reproducible Health Research. (2019). RDA. Retrieved 6 June 2019, from