How to measure a post-2015 MDG on good governance

By Nathaniel Heller, writing on Global Integrity:

“There’s been plenty of chatter in recent months about a possible post-2015 Millennium Development Goal on governance following the release of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The report called out “good governance and effective institutions” as one of 12 “illustrative” goals that nations might consider when adopting new development targets for the post-2015 era. This is potentially big news for transparency and accountability boosters; enshrining good governance in the post-2015 MDG process could provide significant political cover for continued reform efforts while simultaneously unlocking new resources for the work.

A chief risk to the prospect of a good governance goal is the data problem. How would we measure countries’ progress towards “good governance” in a post-2015 framework? Whose data should be used? Is it accurate and robust enough for such an august task? Is it possible to generate quality data on a global scale, regularly, that could be used for tracking?

These questions are generating anxiety in many quarters. But there’s a good answer at hand. Rather than expend time and resources trying to invent “one governance dataset to rule them all,” we should look to better coordinate and ramp up existing data gathering efforts that together, as a mosaic of information, could help to tell us whether countries are making progress towards better (or good enough) governance. That’s our best shot at answering the post-2015 good governance skeptics.”

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