UN Data Forum explores ways to improve and modernize national statistical systemsTirus Wainaina
16 January 2017 – With the statistical community facing myriad challenges as countries begin to implement the new 15-year global plan for sustainable development, it is imperative to modernize, improve capacity and cooperate at a truly global level, the top United Nations economic and social affairs official told a gathering of more than 1,500 data experts today.
“Success requires that all communities represented in this room fulfill a critical role and find ways to work together and create partnerships and synergies,” Wu Hongbo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said at the opening plenary of the UN World Data Forum under way in the South African city of Cape Town.
Mr. Wu stressed that accurate, reliable, timely and disaggregated data is essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda‘s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted at a UN summit in September 2015.
“This Forum takes place at a crucial time for strengthening data and statistical capacity around the world. We have begun the second year of implementing the 2030 Agenda, an agenda that will guide international development efforts and national policy making through 2030,” he said.
In particular, National Statistical Offices (NSOs) have a key role to play, and therefore it is also essential to strengthen national statistical capacities in countries where financial and human resources for statistics are lacking, he added.
The Forum will also serve as a launching pad where diverse data producers and users can get behind the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data, which will be formally approved by the UN Statistical Commission at its 48th session in March this year.
This Plan calls for the full, active and focused commitment of government, policy leaders and the international community to undertake key actions under six strategic areas: coordination and strategic leadership; innovation and modernization of national statistical systems; strengthening of statistical systems; dissemination of data on sustainable development; building of partnerships; and mobilization of resources.
In addition to the opening plenary, titled ‘Harnessing the Power of Data for Sustainable Development,’ today’s events included sessions on big data innovations; state of the art in data visualizations and dashboards to support the 2030 Agenda; rethinking capacity development; recent initiatives to improve capacity on migration and refugee statistics; and integrating human rights with data collection and dissemination.