It is essential that public agencies, the private sector, telecommunications operators, and academia work together to mobilise the true potential of the data revolution so that no one is left behind with post-Covid-19 recovery, said Rabab Fatima, ambassador and permanent representative of Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations.
She made the statement at a side-event on "Accelerating Post Covid Recovery Using Data Revolution," held virtually on the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on July 13, 2020.
The keynote speaker at the programme, Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Policy Advisor Anir Chowdhury presented Bangladesh's use of data from the initial stages of the pandemic to: trace and identify suspected cases, provide telemedicine services, upgrade social safety net services to assist highly impacted populations hit hard by the pandemic, and analyse and develop best practices for a post-Covid-19 workforce.
In terms of Covid-19 recovery, Anir Chowdhury also emphasised the importance of a five-pronged approach for improved policymaking: breaking data silos, developing data intelligent analytics, encouraging public-private and academics partnership, protecting the privacy of consumers, and facilitating experimentation without borders.
Senior Secretary of Information and Communication Technology Division NM Zeaul Alam PAA and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen were present as special guests at the side event moderated by Rabab Fatima.
NM Zeaul Alam PAA said, "We can establish a common data platform where we can produce global and local data sharing policies, collect data from each other, introduce common identifiers such as unique property reference numbers, and shift from a silo-ed to a whole-of-government approach to generate data as important policy influencers."
Masud Bin Momen stated, "The main task of post-Covid-19 recovery would be to effectively resume trade, commerce, social values, agriculture, the health system, etc. – and to enable these to function at their previous levels, and if possible, better. Data will play a crucial part in taking timely decisions concerning these areas."
The panelists noted how the UN platform can create scope for cooperation among nations, as well as allow them to take timely responses in crises.
"Without the right data, good policies may be implemented for the wrong reasons. Accountability and review mechanisms will be insufficient, thus affecting SDG [Sustainable Development Goal] implementation," said Vincenzo Aquaro, chief of Digital Government Branch, Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
He also highlighted the need for protecting the security of the data and privacy of users."
Denis Nkala, Regional Coordinator (Asia – Pacific) of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation remarked, "In order to travel from point A to B, it is the data that will guide you and help you make the most effective decisions to reach your destination."
Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said, "Covid-19 revealed limitations in our data collection systems, but also pushed innovation with new analytical approaches."
"Moving forward, we must ask what the goal of our data system is. We need information that can help policymakers to make decisions," she added.
The event was jointly organised by: the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations, Aspire to Innovate (a2i), the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the South-South Network for Public Service Innovation (SSN4PSI), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Yale University, The Commons Project, and the Future of Work Lab Bangladesh.
Bangladesh also participated in her second Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) this year to share the progress of the SDGs with a pre-recorded video.
Due to the unprecedented health crisis created by Covid-19, for the first time, all UN member states participated virtually in this year's VNRs, read a press release on Tuesday.
Bangladesh's VNRs started by playing an audio-visual clip-on SDG progress and Covid-19 response.
Planning Minister MA Mannan presented Bangladesh's key progress, highlighting: the dramatic achievement in poverty reduction, gender parity in primary and secondary enrollment, reduction of under-five mortality, access to electricity, and social protection coverage.
He also mentioned other interventions undertaken by Bangladesh's government in order to achieve the SDGs on time.
The planning minister also demonstrated the actions taken by the government to fight Covid-19 with the direct guidance of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.