Data to Policy Network Hosts Open House and Learning Session with Policymakers

By December 7, 2023 December 8th, 2023 Data to Policy Network, News

7 December 2023: The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) jointly hosted an open house and learning session, in order to introduce policymakers to the Data to Policy Network, ahead of the kickoff of official activities, slated for early 2024. The event also gave policymakers an opportunity to highlight their interests and demands, helping shape future engagements with the Network.


On the margins of the UN General Assembly, UNOSSC, UNDP, and GIZ jointly unveiled the Data to Policy Navigator along with an accompanying virtual Data to Policy Network, tailored for policymakers. The Data to Policy Navigator functions as a comprehensive tool, equipping policymakers with the skills to systematically incorporate emerging data sources into their decision-making and policy formulation. Complementing this, the Data to Policy Network is positioned as a virtual global hub for the exchange of knowledge and resources. The network will link policymakers from diverse regions, sectors, and varying levels of data expertise, all united in their commitment to enhance data integration in decision-making processes to advance the SDGs. The network’s offerings will span a broad spectrum, including but not limited to:

  • A trusted learning environment for global exchange of good practices on data use for more evidence-based policy making, including through South-South and triangular cooperation;  
  • An opportunity for members to showcase their work regionally and globally;  
  • Facilitated access to available research, policy papers, solutions, and other knowledge products through  the UNOSSC South-South Galaxy platform; 
  • Broad and thematic training sessions for contemporary skills and insights;  
  • Networking opportunities with other forward-thinking policymakers around the world; and 
  • An opportunity to explore collaboration with UNDP (country offices, regional offices, specialized units and its partner network) to support policymakers in embedding data driven approach and co-designing their learning journeys, policy experiments and projects. 

The Open House

In his opening remarks, Gayan Peiris, Head of Data and Technology at UNDP’s Chief Digital Office, welcomed participants to the inaugural Open House and Learning Session of the Data to Policy Network. He underscored pressing global challenges, emphasizing the imperative for action in light of crises derailing the Sustainable Development Goals. Peiris highlighted the exponential growth of data since 2015, showcasing its potential to empower decision-makers. He illustrated the tangible impact of data, highlighting cases where each dollar invested could generate up to $32 in impact. Peiris acknowledged the abundance of data but pointed out behavioral barriers to its effective use, emphasizing the need for a new data culture within governments and organizations. The Data to Policy Navigator and Network initiatives were presented as optimistic strides, offering guidance and fostering a dynamic community of policymakers.

Gayan Peiris, Head of Data and Technology at UNDP’s Chief Digital Office, during his opening remarks

Alena Klatte, Global Project Manager at UNDP’s Chief Digital Office

Alena Klatte, Global Project Manager at UNDP’s Chief Digital Office, introduced the agenda for the Open House, which included an overview of the network, a learning session, and closing remarks. Alena highlighted the global representation of participants from various regions and sectors, emphasizing the collaborative efforts of UNDP, UNOSSC, and GIZ. She elaborated on the network’s goals, such as fostering a trusted peer-to-peer environment, showcasing regional and global work, providing training sessions, and offering tailored support. Alena concluded by conducting a poll to gather insights on participants’ regions, interests, and experiences with data, setting the stage for the interactive learning session ahead.

Moderated by Ms. Aafreen Siddiqui, Regional Engagement Lead at UNDP, the learning session featured insightful discussions with panelists Dr. Iliya Nickelt, Chief Data Scientist at the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and Ms. Sonia Bea Wee-Lozada, Director of the Commission on Elections at the Government of the Philippines. The session delved into the pivotal topic of data-driven policies, emphasizing the need for fostering a data-driven culture within organizations. The panelists highlighted key initiatives and strategies to effectively implement data-driven approaches, addressing challenges and leveraging opportunities. The session provided valuable insights into the transformative impact of data-driven policies on decision-making processes and organizational growth.

Ms. Aafreen Siddiqui, Regional Engagement Lead at UNDP, Dr. Iliya Nickelt, Chief Data Scientist at BMZ, and Ms. Sonia Bea Wee-Lozada, Director of the Commission on Elections at the Government of the Philippines

Mr. Zanofer Ismalebbe, Chief, Knowledge Management, UNOSSC, during his closing remarks

Mr. Zanofer Ismalebbe, Chief, Knowledge Management, UNOSSC, closed the event by expressing gratitude for the collaborative efforts behind the Data to Policy Network. Highlighting UNOSSC’s mandate to advocate for and coordinate South-South and triangular cooperation on a global and UN system-wide level,  he emphasized the catalytic role of South-South and triangular cooperation in fostering global solidarity towards sustainable development. He also highlighted insights shared by the panelists during the learning session and reiterated the Network’s commitment to supporting policymakers in building a data-driven culture. Ismalebbe outlined some of the initial plans for the network’s kickoff in 2024, focusing on tailored interactions and user-centric approaches. He stressed the network’s potential as a bridge between policymakers, fostering South-South solidarity, national ownership and mutual benefit.

Finally, UNOSSC’s commitment to evidence-based policymaking and global collaboration was reiterated through various forthcoming corporate initiatives, such as the South-South Global Thinkers network of think tanks, the South-South and Triangular Cooperation Solutions Lab, that could assist the Network in exploring the untapped potential of matching the needs and capabilities of policymakers working on similar topics/issues in different regional, sub-regional and national contexts

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