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Harnessing data for inclusive development

Data is a powerful tool for bridging gaps between institutions and communities. If used correctly, it can help build responsive institutions and efficient public services, and ensure citizen participation.

Across Europe and Central Asia, citizens’ demand for more government accountability and transparency is growing, along with citizen-driven initiatives. To harness the full potential of data, we combine traditional data sources, such as household surveys, with non-traditional ones, to form a granular picture of development challenges, gain a more accurate understanding and address them in an effective way. By using digital data, generated by sensors, web content, GPS devices, social media and mobile phones, we aim to unlock economic and social value to identify uncommon practices, which may have been overlooked by traditional approaches.

Some of our flagship initiatives include:

  • Ministry of Data: Open innovation challenges  in the region aiming to create data-driven tools and crowdsource solutions for socio-economic challenges such as air pollution and mobility in cities. 
  • Open Data in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ODECA): Covering 18 countries in the region, ODECA aims to stimulate innovation, knowledge management support and learning about open data regionally and globally, while supporting government representatives, civil society activists, tech activists and citizens that care about and work with open data.
  • Measuring the Unmeasured: Testing unconventional data-measuring approaches to monitor and evaluate SDG Tier 3 indicators to leverage big data for sustainable development in the region and beyond (including Arab States and Africa region).

We also work with various partners to.support UNDP offices in using data in their projects.

  • ESA Earth Observation Clinic: A rapid-response mechanism for small-scale and exploratory uses of satellite EO information in support of a wide range of projects and activities specific to International Development from urban mobility in Moldova, Deforestation trends in Armenia, to Waste mapping on river basin in Serbia.


UNDP Europe and Central Asia takes an ecosystem approach in supporting data initiatives and integrating them into a range of sectors. From supporting legislation to development, we create spaces for collaboration between institutions, citizens and relevant organizations.
Design data initiatives
We support the creation and design of data initiatives by running data readiness assessments, clarification of objectives, determining target groups and ensuring responsible data practices.
Support implementation of data governance mechanisms
We explore new ways of implementing data governance mechanisms that empower individuals and groups by using fair and inclusive data governance frameworks and practices.



The UNDP Regional Hubs in Istanbul and Amman, together with Country Offices from the Europe & Central Asia and Arab States regions, have over the past several years invested in efforts to adopt and apply innovative data-informed approaches to better understand development challenges and the impact of our collective interventions to achieve the SDGs. 


The public transport stops locations and schedules have been set based on an assessment conducted some 30 years ago and has not been upgraded ever since.


The current pandemic has not only shown the vulnerabilities of our social, economic and health systems, it has also revealed how grossly inadequate the mechanisms, institutions and governance systems are that we rely upon to handle our data. 



You don’t have to be a data scientist to innovate with data. Interested in integrating data into your projects?
We support UNDP offices, governments, and partners in advancing strategic urban innovation to design and implement impactful interventions in cities to transform our society for the better.

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