Article: Progress on Unpacking the Data Revolution in Turkey

By Mehmet Arda

The Turkish case study under the Post-2015 Data Test has steadily progressed since the team’s In-Progress Note was published in May. Rather than holding an inception workshop, the Turkish team held three separate meetings to launch the study.

The first of these meetings took place on May 12-13, 2014 bringing together the seven members of the team preparing the Turkish study with Dr. Bhattacharya from the Centre for Policy Dialogue (Bangladesh). This preparatory meeting offered team members the opportunity to engage directly with the Post-2015 Data Test organizers on the conceptualization, configuration and structuring of the activities in Turkey. A second meeting was held on June 13, 2014 with the two senior staff members from the Economic and Social Statistics Division of the Turkish Statistical Institution (TUIK) responsible for the work on possible post-2015 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators. In this meeting, the set of targets and indicators prepared for the Post-2015 Data Test were reviewed and staff members at TUIK provided feedback. Finally, for the third meeting, the research team held a conference call with a senior staff member at the Ministry of Development who is the lead participant in the negotiations on the SDGs and has responsibility for the establishment and defense of the Turkish position. This call was preceded by a discussion with the undersecretary of the ministry and one of his aides. Representatives from the ministry expressed their belief in the importance of the project, particularly its country level approach, and committed their full cooperation in the research process.

The meetings revealed that TUIK is involved in a similar data mapping exercise, although for targets, indicators and data that vary slightly from those examined under the study. Nevertheless, the overall concerns of this study and those of the activities carried out by TUIK are similar, and pertain to the availability, timeliness and international comparability of data on the post-2015 SDGs.  The study will bring a new dimension, both in terms of content and country coverage (and, therefore, international comparability) to TUIK’s activities.

Second, with respect to shortcomings on data, TUIK indicated that when data are collected for presentation to an international organization or collected on the basis of internationally agreed methodology, they tend to be of better quality. TUIK also noted that in some instances though data are not presently available, the possibility of generating information from different parts of TUIK exists.

Finally, stakeholders also noted that the study will serve as a useful input into the Turkish position in the SDG negotiations, introducing a perspective of feasibility and realism. The potential of the study to elevate the conversation on the post-2015 SDGs in Turkey was also highlighted. The eventual press coverage and publicity that it is hoped the study will generate, even if modest, will serve as a welcome contribution as discussion of the post-2015 SDGs is almost absent from the Turkish media. An additional positive outcome could be the potential for generating interest in the use of hard statistical data and factual information by the media.

Going forward, the Turkish research team is in the process of finalizing the country level report, which will be released in the coming months.