HLPF Side Event Presents Tool for Data Governance and SDG Monitoring
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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An HLPF side event organized by UNITAR and the UN Statistics Division presented StaTact, a tool to help developing countries address measurement gaps and build statistical capacity.

The tool enables specification of countries’ needs, and can be used when there is no national statistics strategy in place.

11 July 2018: A side event on the theme, ‘StaTact, Data Governance and Monitoring of the SDGs for Strengthening Resilience of Countries in Special Situations,’ presented a statistical tool piloted by the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and UN Statistics Division (UNSD) earlier this year.

The event, convened on the sidelines of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), outlined the tool’s utility and featured countries’ early experiences using it to inform policy making.

Opening remarks by Nikhil Seth, UNITAR Executive Director, highlighted that StaTact not only helps countries define what they need and focus on monitoring issues, but also enables reporting to the HLPF and on progress towards the SDGs. He noted that the UNITAR-UNSD toolkit, aimed at planning ministries, national statistical offices, line ministries as well as other stakeholders that use or produce data, helps countries improve data governance for the SDGs.

UNSD Director Stefan Schweinfest emphasized the need to focus on financial, technical, and organizational capacity. He flagged that mechanisms and institutions for organizational capacity, such as national statistical offices, are not adequately in place. He noted that the tool aims to help developing countries establish an integrated national and sub-national programme with respect to data.

Participants highlighted the four “Rs” for improving institutional arrangements for the SDGs: responsibility, resources, reporting, and realization.

Einar Bjorgo, UNITAR, described StaTact as “a tactical approach to solving problems in the measurement agenda.” Designed to have a relatively short six- to twelve-month implementation horizon, he noted, the tool necessitates a consultative process in order to find and share data that can help address a specific problem.

Elena Proden, UNITAR, noted that StaTact is intended to be used when there is no national statistics strategy in place. She described the tool’s value when: 1) there are obstacles impeding implementation of a strategy; 2) there is a need to facilitate a mid-term review of a strategy’s implementation; 3) quick changes of direction are required in response to new opportunities; and 4) there is a challenge in producing a national indicator to support a policy priority.

Gabriel Gamez, UNSD, articulated the difference between raw data and statistics, noting that the role of statistics is to convert raw data into knowledge for evidence-based decision-making. He described the process model that StaTact employs in order to get from needs specification to data to knowledge.

Sharing the StaTact experience, participants presented on their countries’ experiences using the tool to enable action. Speakers from Suriname, Uganda, Togo outlined problem trees that their respective countries explored with the tool, spelling out issues’ capability areas, root causes, and potential solutions. The country panelists further noted four “Rs” for improving institutional arrangements for the SDGs: responsibility, resources, reporting, and realization.

Participants further noted that, in the SDG era, the policy-statistics relationship is still “under construction,” where policymakers are ready for the SDGs, but statisticians are not.

Organized by UNITAR and UNSD, the event took place with the support of the Governments of Switzerland and Sweden. [HLPF Side Event Programme: StaTact, Data Governance and Monitoring of the SDGs for Strengthening Resilience of Countries in Special Situations]


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