Our Story

Making Voices Heard and Count is a collaborative project of the Leave No One Behind partnership, bringing together international and national civil society organisations (CSOs), civic networks and platforms (see Partners). The partnership is hosted by the International Civil Society Centre.

Our joint ambition is to bring about a scalable solution for filling data gaps on marginalised groups in the monitoring and review of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), thereby making a key contribution towards fulfilling the Agenda 2030’s universal pledge to leave no one behind. The project fosters an inclusive model of SDG monitoring, supporting the collection, analysis and dissemination of community-driven data and giving a stage to data produced by the local target groups themselves – helping to make their voices heard and count.

The Leave No One Behind partnership was launched in late 2017 by 12 international civil society organisations (ICSOs). In 2018, the partnership set up national coalitions in five pilot countries: Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nepal, and Vietnam (see Countries). The national coalitions brought together national CSOs, civic networks and platforms, as well as community-based and community-led organisations. Each country coalition delivered a national pilot research with a focus on various marginalised communities with the overall goal of closing knowledge gaps, analysing local drivers of vulnerability, and deriving concrete recommendations for public policy-making and planning. In total, more than 2.000 community representatives from over 20 different counties and neighbourhoods were involved.

The pilot demonstrated that official monitoring measures fail to fully capture the SDG progress of marginalised groups, with numbers highly deviating from national averages. The pilot research further demonstrated that, when equipped with adequate tools, members of marginalised communities play a meaningful role to inform local planning and to hold authorities accountable.

Following the successful pilot projects, the five LNOB country coalitions developed and undertook new and expanded data projects in 2020-2021. Building on this momentum, the partnership expanded in late 2021 by launching two new country coalitions in Malawi and Denmark.

Denmark is the first high-income country to join the partnership, which marks an important milestone since the SDGs are often perceived as primarily being relevant for low- and middle-income countries. However, specific communities in high-income countries, such as older people, refugees and people with disabilities, can also be left behind due to underreporting. The discrimination, stigma and negligence these communities often experience—regardless of which country they live in—results in inadequate public policies and services that do not account for their specific needs.

Learn more: Our ApproachLearn more: Our Vision Download LNOB Partnership Flyer



Our Approach

In 2015, almost 200 countries unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and pledged to “leave no one behind.” However, numerous people remain invisible to national statistical systems and therefore many structural development challenges remain poorly understood. This data gap and the lack of adequate means to engage these groups in decision-making leads to their persistent exclusion and marginalisation in their countries. These conditions are an existential threat to the 2030 Agenda.

The partnership’s ambition is to contribute towards filling these knowledge gaps on marginalised groups. At the same time, we aim to give voice and agency to marginalised communities, helping to make them an active part of the political discourse, looking for adequate solutions in policy and public services. In this sense, our partnership works strategically to build capacity for community-driven data, generate dialogue with decision makers at national and local levels, and promote the use of civil society data both in national policy making and in the global monitoring and review of the SDGs.

✓ We strive to achieve greater recognition and use of civil society data as complementary source for national SDG monitoring and review (Making Voices Heard).

✓ We promote the active use of civil society data in planning of policies and services, providing a critical support to improve the lives of those who are usually ‘off the radar’ (Making Voices Count).

This is how we work:

  • Capacity building for community-driven data: Marginalised groups and grassroot CSOs in our action countries are trained by our expert teams to collect monitoring data to measure the progress of their local community with regard to selected SDG indicators.
  • Inclusive dialogues with decision makers: The generated data is processed, visualised, and turned into concrete recommendations for policies and services. Then it is discussed with authorities at the local and national level that our country teams help to set up. The local target groups and grassroot CSOs are active participants in these policy dialogues.
  • Global advocacy toward use of civil society data: The national research and advocacy in our partner countries is backed by a coordinated advocacy effort of the influential global member organisations of our partnership, fostering an enabling international political environment for a more inclusive, locally owned and evidence-driven SDG process.

Learn more: Our Vision

Our vision for the future

Building on pilot project successes and the ongoing dialogues that have been established in the other countries, the partnership aims to scale up its activities to at least eight countries by 2022, with the goal of directly reaching up to 100.000 representatives of marginalised groups.

In this new phase from 2020-2022, the project aims to expand on different levels:

  • Scaling up action in the five original countries (Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nepal, Vietnam): Larger research scope and reach. Projects to reach several thousand households per country.
  • Expanding to new countries in global south and global north: Canada, Denmark, Malawi, Philippines are to establish national coalitions and conduct community-driven data projects.
  • Offer advanced capacity building to our country teams: Development of national community indicator platforms for advanced data visualisation (increasing usability of local data for advocacy purposes), offering trainings, and producing guidelines for data standardisation, anonymisation, etc.
  • Increased visibility and reach: Publication series via the global SDG Knowledge Hub of IISD, producing diverse knowledge and learning products, launch of new event website with videos and blog, contributions to key international events (HLPF, regional SDG Forums, IAEG-SDGs meetings, World Data Forum, etc.).

The partnership will build strategic collaborations with third parties to advance its ambition of creating a positive political environment for the increased use of civil society data:

  • Joint trust building campaign: partner project with Partners for Review and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, bringing together National Statistical Offices, SDG Coordination Units, Human Rights Institutes, and civil society data producers from six countries to discuss “Pathways towards a cross-sector SDG data partnership.” The United Nations Statistics Division supports the project and will be involved. Starts with series of webinars in 2020. Ambition: minimum of 2 partner countries start a pilot collaboration as result. Partner countries: Canada, Costa Rica, Ghana, Nepal, Palestine, Philippines.

These combined efforts are meant to set a positive signal for the ‘second half’ of SDG implementation after 2022: We want to demonstrate through our activities in various countries and at the global level that a equitable dialogue between marginalised groups and official decision makers is possible and that civil society data can contribute to a more inclusive SDG implementation that leaves no one behind!