ESCWA Strengthens Statistics for SDGs, Discusses Parliamentarians’ Role
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ESCWA launched a Statistical Information Portal to facilitate open access to statistical data, analysis and information on ESCWA member States.

The Statistical Committee recommended further improvements to national official statistics to provide accurate, timely and neutral data to measure progress towards the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs.

The second regional parliamentary forum called for increasing the role of parliamentarians’ role in the VNR process.

30 January 2019: The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) launched a statistical information portal for the Arab region, as part of the region’s efforts to improve national statistics. The portal provides sustainable development indicators for the region, including sets of social development, environmental and economic development indicators, among other statistical products and services. Also in the Arab region, parliamentarians discussed their role in fulfilling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, calling for an increased role in the Voluntary National Review (VNR) process.

The ESCWA Statistical Information Portal (ESIP) aims to facilitate open access to statistical data, analysis and information on ESCWA member States, and will cover a range of economic and social areas. Its launch follows the 13th session of the Statistical Committee of ESCWA, held from 29-30 January 2019, and the second regional parliamentary forum, held from 24-25 January, both in Beirut, Lebanon.

The Statistical Committee, which meets biannually, recommended further improvements to national official statistics, which, it said, are critical in providing accurate, timely and neutral data to measure progress towards the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs. Participants recognized the responsibility of statistical offices in providing data that enable policymakers to measure progress and inform implementation.

ESCWA presented the Arab regional action plan on the SDGs, including progress on innovation and modernization of official statistics, dissemination and use of data and partnerships and coordinated efforts for sustainable development data and statistical capacity building. As an illustration, ESCWA shared progress in strengthened basic activities and programmes, including disability statistics and poverty measurement. ESCWA Acting Executive Secretary, Mounir Tabet, said the Arab region has begun to “make real progress in harmonizing national statistics with international standards,” which has contributed to an improvement of current statistical data and an increase of previously unavailable data production. The Committee also discussed, inter alia: ownership of big data; the role of technology in statistics; a manual on disability statistics; gender statistics; and population and housing censuses.

ESCWA’s second regional parliamentary forum was held in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB). It aimed to strengthen parliamentarians’ capacities and knowledge to enable them to play a more effective role in advancing sustainable development and fulfill their legislative, monitoring and representative functions for the 2030 Agenda.

Participants from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Sudan, Syria and Tunisia shared their national experiences and progress on the 2030 Agenda, and discussed a draft action plan on strengthening their role in the implementation, follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda.

Parliamentarians observed significant variation in their respective roles in the VNR process, with some saying their parliament was not at all involved in it, and called for increasing the role of parliamentarians’ role in the VNR process. [ESCWA Press Release on ESIP] [ESCWA Press Release on Parliamentary Forum] [Statistics Information Portal] [13th session of the Statistical Committee Webpage]

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