Data is critical to improving performance. Without meaningful and reliable data, we are walking blind. At best, we will accidentally reach our goal. At worst, we will wander aimlessly through the dark, never reaching our destination.

Effective data is a critical component of a successful decision making and should be used in conjunction with setting performance goals. If effective data is given on every subject and related issues, decision making and policy making process will improve. All government and private organizations and institutions need to know in a timely manner how they’re performing, what are their successes and failures, and what needs to be done in future. If improvement needs to be made in their performance, the sooner they find out about it the more rewarding it is to them and sooner they can correct the problem.

Data works best when it relates to a specific goal establishing performance expectations before work actually begins. It is the key to providing tangible, objective, and potent decisions. Telling institutions and organizations that they are doing well because they exceeded their goal by specific percentage is more effective than simply saying “they are doing a good job.”

The planet health should be at the center of concern about the environment and development. It should receive high priority in environmental policies and development plans, as the quality of the environment and the nature of development are major determinants of health.

Every day we depend on biodiversity, the sheer variety of life found on Earth, to keep us alive and healthy. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat and the medications we take are all by-products of a healthy planet. But our world, and the diversity of life it supports, is under threat. Deforestation, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, draining of wetlands, climate change, globalization and other factors of modern life are wiping out species and damaging ecosystems at unprecedented rates.

When we damage the Earth, we damage our own health. Human beings are as susceptible as any other species. Every breath we take depends on another life, another species. Many of the global health challenges that we face today, including infectious diseases, malnutrition and non-communicable diseases, are all linked to the decline of biodiversity and ecosystems.

The eventual purpose of having dependable data for development is to facilitate decision-makers to arrive at right judgments for enabling people to live better lives. Data helps determine the progress of development. How much air quality is pure for breath? How many children go to school? Who has access to healthcare? And how many people are under risk of natural disasters? It also helps assess air quality and pollutions. Data is fundamental tools get right information about environmental issues and its impact on environmental-economic progress and to evaluate governance, peace and security etc. Some data takes aim at sustainable development, food security etc.

From the time when the MDGs were launched in 2000, the UN has relied on annual reports to assess its progress. But in August, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a  “data revolution for sustainable development”, which in effect makes real-time data visualization a requirement, not just for tracking the MDGs, but for everything from Ebola to climate change. According to Ki-moon, “The data revolution is giving the world powerful tools that can help user in a more sustainable future.”

Only reliable data can ensure a sustained flow of high quality and nationally acceptable data for policy decision making. National statistical systems, therefore, need to be empowered to produce these data information sets. We need sustainable data in support of sustainable development.

How can we use data information collected on everything from water supply and food prices to child mortality, poverty, natural disasters etc. To better understand the need for sustainable development we can pull insights from gathered data, develop forecasts, and spot gaps. To get a better idea of what’s possible we can call on the government sector as well as private sector both in business or civil society to assist in determining the exact MDG progress and inspire ongoing global efforts.

Let us set a new precedent for using data information through public-private partnerships to improve the lives of people everywhere.

An explosion in the volume of data information will ultimately lead to more empowered people, better policies, better decisions and greater participation and accountability, leading to better outcomes for people, future generations and the planet. This is not a theory of change.  It is a statement of belief and hope.

We are seeing more data in formats that are easier to consume: Atom data feeds, web services, micro formats, and other newer technologies provide data in formats that’s directly machine-consumable.

Several data-centric industries have had huge datasets for a long time. And as storage capacity continues to expand, today’s “big” is certainly tomorrow’s “medium” and next week’s “small.” The most meaningful definition I’ve heard: “big data” is when the size of the data itself becomes part of the problem. We’re discussing data problems ranging from gigabytes to megabytes of data. At some point, traditional techniques for working with data run out of steam.

The solution to all the above-mentioned problems lies in collecting meaningful and reliable data. The ability to take data, to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it — that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades.

Openness of data as a fundamental pre-condition for collection and usage of data for sustainable development is a must. Openness in this context is needed not only to ensure the wide availability and usability of the data concerned across various types of actors, but also to make the data collection processes themselves more transparent, and thus accountable.

Moreover, we need to challenge governments not to block data by creating political barriers on several issues and to free information for public knowledge.