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Global youth-led data initiative launched for UN's Sustainable Development Goals


New youth-led global data initiative for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals kicks-off in Tanzania

Selected from over 2,000 applicants, 26 young data innovators from around the world are meeting in Arusha, Tanzania from 21-25 January to launch the Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator, a one-year initiative focused on sourcing and using data to drive progress towards the UN’s Global Goals.

  • Participants are from 22 countries (spanning Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East) and will receive technical support from a team of international development professionals and upwards of $30,000 each to deliver their projects.
  • Each grantee (all under the age of 35) will implement their bespoke data projects in their respective countries, tackling challenges related to poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality and water and sanitation (related to Global Goals 1-6).

The initiative was announced in September at Goalkeepers 2018, an annual event put on by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation during the UN General Assembly. It was was set up with the recognition that young people are the key to success for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, yet only a small fraction of donor funding goes to young people and youth-led organisations. Even when financial resources are available, the technical support (e.g. mentoring, technology, mass media) is often missing. With this in mind, initiative partners (Gates Foundation, CIVICUS, Restless Development, Action for Sustainable Development, The George W. Bush Institute, and the Obama Foundation) set out to identify youth-led data projects from the global south that are already using innovative forms of data collection and have the potential to be scaled-up to have an even greater impact in their communities.

The ground-breaking data projects include an initiative to curb deforestation by providing rural communities with alternative sources of income; a campaign to strengthen food security by providing farmers with data on land fertility; and a plan to produce low cost drones to deliver medicine and HIV tests for young children and pregnant women living in remote areas. See the full list of projects.


Successful project proposals were selected by a global steering group of accomplished youth advocates based on their feasibility, level of innovation, and scalability. The thematic areas of the projects vary, but they all share the objectives to assess local implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and to hold governments accountable for achieving these commitments. The projects fall under two primary workstreams: data sourcing and accountability, and data translation and storytelling.

The Arusha workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to learn from one another, as well as other leaders and experts in their fields. It will be hosted at the MS Training Centre for Development (MS-TCDC), which has been in operation since the 1970’s supporting a wide range of civil society initiatives related to democratic decision making and sustainable development.

Further background information

The Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator is a part of Goalkeepers, which is a multi-year campaign dedicated to accelerating progress towards the Global Goals: using powerful stories, data, and partnerships to highlight progress achieved, hold governments accountable and bring together a new generation of leaders to address the world’s major challenges.

To arrange an interview, please contact: Clara Sanchiz (Clara.sanchiz[at]civicus.org)


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