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Using big data to measure the nexus between environment and gender in Asia and the Pacific


The nexus between the environment and gender has been of interest in recent years, with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development providing renewed impetus to the discussion. The Agenda calls for a better and sustainable future for all, making it implicit that development cannot progress without addressing inequality, discrimination and exclusion affecting women and men in all spheres, including in relation to the environment. However, the critical links between gender and environment are not well understood and gaps in data availability impede progress assessment. National level measurement in this area has been inadequate and further development of international standards and guidelines is needed to advance national level development.

In response to this challenge, and to better understand the environment-gender nexus, UN-Women and ESCAP partnered with UNEP and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to put forward a proposal for an Environment-Gender Indicators Set that could capture issues of relevance for Asia-Pacific countries in the form of a 2019 working paper. At the Seventh Session of the Committee on Statistics, the Committee welcomed the initiative and encouraged continuation of this work. This set of indicators is not meant to be prescriptive nor for compulsory reporting. Rather, it has been envisaged as a guidance tool for countries interested in measuring this nexus in their own national contexts. The set includes a combination of indicators taken from the Sustainable Development Goals framework and from other existing frameworks, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015- 2030 and the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-08).

Further, as noted at the 7th Session of ESCAP’s Committee on Statistics, many National Statistical Offices (NSOs) in Asia and the Pacific region are increasingly pioneering the application of nontraditional data sources to supplement or even replace survey and administrative data. They have specifically utilised non-traditional data sources to measure important social and demographic indicators in cases where relevant data are missing or deficient. ESCAP Statistics Division also published a working paper in 2021 on big data for the SDGs highlighting examples of countries with existing applications of non-traditional data sources for producing SDG indicators.

Big data

Big data could thus be used as a data source for producing appropriate indicators relevant to the environment-gender nexus in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. However, access to big data sources and the needed legislative frameworks are key obstacles to progress in that area as identified by the Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on the Uses of Big Data for Official Statistics. In response to the recommendation by the EGM on the need for clear guide, ESCAP is developing a guidance on key consideration for the use of big data for official statistics.

The Environment-Gender Indicators Set and guidance on big data for official statistics form a strong foundation for developing a better understanding of the environment-gender nexus. The next step is their application starting with using big data to produce a few the indicators.


This project aims to support the beneficiary countries to utilize big data for piloting the production of a sample of environment-gender indicators to assist the countries in improving the availability, inclusiveness, and sustainability of quality data and official statistics. The project team will work closely with NSOs from the beneficiary countries to explore the possibility of collecting and analyzing big data to produce the pilot indicators and develop national strategies on the use of big data for producing the indicators.