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It is often a case of the chicken or the egg dilemma when it comes to policy-data integration.

The lack of data is blamed for the absence of appropriate policies due to insufficient evidence, whilst the lack of demand is seen as the main challenge for producing relevant data.

The root cause analysis begins with “lack of demand” or “lack of supply” for data, depending on who the analyst is - the data producer or the policymaker.

Moreover, data producers don’t actively engage in policy discussions to see where the evidence for policymaking is missing, and policymakers often fail to specify what data is needed for monitoring.

This has created a vicious cycle, where the give-and-take of policymakers and producers of official statistics recurs with little success.

ESCAP’s initiative on Policy-Data integration aims to address this challenge by providing a framework for a structured, participatory and principle-based dialogue between policy and data stakeholders.

The framework defines a policy-data landscape and identifies: gaps ( lack of demand, supply and use of data); voids ( absence of policy and therefore data); and waste in the production of data and formulation of policy.

The framework maps out the social, economic, environmental, and institutional dimensions of every issue that requires policy action regardless of sector. It also identifies target groups that will benefit from policy implementation, and develops indicators for the key issues identified.

To further facilitate policy-data integration, ESCAP has worked with Member States to develop a tool known as EPIC (Every Policy Is Connected). EPIC helps governments to implement the integration framework through the development of a national comprehensive indicator set for specific policy documents.

EPIC facilitates conversation between policymakers and data producers based on agreed development principles to articulate the demands of policies for disaggregated data in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The tool assists policymakers to identify issues that require policy action, and the indicators that need monitoring. It also helps to identify beneficiary target groups and highlight where data disaggregation is necessary.

The exercise enhances understanding among stakeholders, and creates ownership of indicators and statistics among policymakers to enhance political and financial support to national statistical systems.

The EPIC tool has been successfully piloted across several sectoral plans in Samoa and the Philippines and will be discussed during the Sixth session of the ESCAP Committee on Statistics in October 2018 for its endorsement.

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