Thorough Glimpse into MENA: UNDP Launches Arab Development Portal

Mohamad Salhab, Apr 25 2016

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched a bilingual Arabic and English online one-stop-shop for credible and timely data, the Arab Development Portal (ADP), in Amman. ADP offers access to a multi-source database covering 11 key developmental topics pertaining to the Arab world, as well as advanced tools for data browsing, extraction, and visualization.

There are more than 2,750 indicators within ADP, extracted from national statistical offices, and 400 additional indicators extracted from databases of international organizations. ADP also serves as a resource depository to over 1,000 publications produced by international and local organizations, public institutions, and universities.

Offerings for the Long Run

ADP’s data production, dissemination, and quality assurance services, are in harmony with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by world leaders at the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Summit last September. A set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) make up this agenda, aiming at ending poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change by 2030.

ADP offers diverse thematic coverage, interactive features, solid technical infrastructure, and open-source data management tools. It aims at enhancing aid effectiveness, catering for development agencies’ needs to direct aid support more strategically. It is also a tool to empower governments to mainstream SDGs in their national plans.

Consolidating Consultations      

Before launching ADP, there have been various consultations for developing a portal that would meet expectations of end-users in relation to content, access, and potential partnerships with strategic stakeholders.

Since 2013, UNDP has worked closely with the Coordination Group of Arab National and Regional Development Institutions, the Islamic Development Bank, and the OPEC Fund for International Development to address these data gaps and produce a portal that is publically-accessible to a wide range of end-users from policy makers to entrepreneurs and journalists.

In 2014-2015, UNDP engaged a group of more than 100 participants, from academic institutions, research think tanks, professional and business associations, financial institutions, as well as civil society organizations.

Launching a Corroborated Message

The ADP launch in Amman features keynote speakers and discussions on open data, access to information, SDGs, digital journalism, and partnerships. It is followed by a two-day regional workshop on SDGs covering six topics; energy, poverty, labor, water and food security, education, and trade. The role of the private sector and financial institutions, and gender mainstreaming are parallel topics that will be revisited by workshops.

“In the absence of publically accessible and credible data, knowledge is weakened, and development remains threatened. Data and knowledge resources on development issues in the Arab world are often outdated, of irregular reliability, and fragmented across multiple international, regional, and local sources,” as per a UNDP statement.

The event is to highlight some of the leading regional platforms on innovation, sustainability, and social entrepreneurship. Workshops will include guidelines on use of ADP as a tool to produce statistical analysis, and mentorship group sessions on SDGs for the purpose of stimulating an informed public debate in their respective countries and in the region. The Amman workshops also constitute an opportunity to brainstorm on developing the ADP into means for tracking SDGs. 

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