PARIS21, SDSN and UN Agencies Urge Building National Statistical Capacity
story highlights

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Thematic Research Network on Sustainable Development Data released a report titled, ‘Counting on the World: Building Modern Data Systems for Sustainable Development'.

The Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21) released its report on what resources are provided for statistics worldwide.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) organized the Sixth Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange (SDMX) conference, as part of efforts to standardize the international exchange of data.

A high-level side event took place during the General Assembly opening on the topic, ‘Using Data and Technology to Achieve the SDGs: Tackling Global Threats and Ensuring a Better Future for Us All'.

October 2017: UN and other international agencies are highlighting the need for increased support to national statistical systems to improve monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and evidence-based policy making for sustainable development. While some donors are helping to build capacity in national statistical systems, research shows that more support – such as for producing disaggregated and geo-referenced data, and enabling interoperability so that data can be better shared and utilized for policy purposes – is needed.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Thematic Research Network on Sustainable Development Data has produced a report describing the kinds of data required to meet sustainable development challenges. It proposes ways in which national statistical systems should evolve. The report titled, ‘Counting on the World: Building Modern Data Systems for Sustainable Development,’ notes that much of the data needed for monitoring the SDGs is currently unavailable.

The authors recommend that governments should focus on making available data interoperable so that it can be shared across line ministries, and using diverse or multi-modal sources to help fill existing gaps. They propose that all stakeholders – private companies, academia, multilateral institutions and civil society – should support governments in producing, cleaning, compiling, disseminating and analyzing data, while acknowledging fears on data security, data ownership, and citizen privacy. They note that national census data – rarely collected more frequently than once a decade – remain the most important source of information for countries.

The report concludes with a detailed roadmap of recommended actions, including: appointing Chief Data Officers in every country; expanding the UN Statistical Commission’s annual meetings to include the participation of non-official data producers, possibly structuring meetings around individual SDGs or types of relevant data; expanding the membership of the Inter-Agency Expert Group on the SDGs (IAEG-SDGs) to include non-governmental data producers; and establishing a Heads of State-level Taskforce or High-level Panel on the Data Revolution. They also call on international donors to help low-capacity countries establish strong legal and regulatory data frameworks.

The authors note the potential of initiatives such as the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), and suggest that its working group on citizen-generated data (CGD) establish an inter-agency and expert group on CGD to help set standards and common methods.

In related news, the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21) has released its report on what resources are provided for statistics worldwide. The report titled, ‘Partner Report on Support to Statistics,’ shows that financing is insufficient for meeting expectations, and calls on international donors to help build the capacity of national statistical offices (NSOs). The authors did find, however, that an increasing percentage of official development assistance (ODA) is being directed to this purpose, and that a greater diversity of donors have become involved, including the Gates and Hewlett Foundations. In 2015, support for statistics reached US$541 million, mostly going to beneficiaries in Africa and South Asia. The top five donors supporting NSOs’ statistical capacity were the Government of Canada, the African Development Bank, the European Commission (EC)/ Eurostat, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank.

PARIS21 was created in 1999 by the UN, the EC, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, as a partnership of statisticians, policy makers, and other users of statistics to promote statistical capacity development.

On 3 October, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) organized the Sixth Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange (SDMX) conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as part of efforts to standardize the international exchange of data. SDMX is an ISO standard for data and metadata dissemination. Stefan Schweinfest, Director, UN Statistics Division (UNSD), stated that the SDGs offer “a unique opportunity” to expand the reach of SDMX, and that a working group has been created to develop SDMX standards for the SDGs. He emphasized the importance of interoperability of data to enable data exchange and automation of exchange. He highlighted the governance aspect of data exchange, noting that SDMX tools are available as open source, and the work of SDMX is about developing and agreeing on structures that can be used to present data from the various statistical domains. The SDMX working group will conduct a pilot data exchange in early 2018, and expects to present official structures by the end of that year.

Further, on 19 September, a high-level side event took place during the General Assembly meeting in New York, US on the topic, ‘Using Data and Technology to Achieve the SDGs: Tackling Global Threats and Ensuring a Better Future for Us All,’ organized by the governments of Kenya, Colombia, Ghana and Sierra Leone together with the GSMA and the GPSDD. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), called for combining traditional statistics with big data and geo-referenced data for the purposes of sustainable development and humanitarian action. At the event, which involved ministers, senior officials and representatives of the telecommunications industry, Bárcena highlighted instances of collaboration between the public and private sector, for example, tracing the routes taken by Central American migrants through their mobile phone traffic as a means of implementing policies to protect the human rights of migrants. She urged all concerned to expand their efforts to produce disaggregated data that will enable attention to be given to the needs of women, girls, older persons, and indigenous peoples. She mentioned examples of ECLAC’s support for measuring regional and country progress towards the SDGs, including through the work of the Statistical Conference of the America (SCA-ECLAC), and the UN Regional Commission on Global Geospatial Information Management for the Americas (UN-GGIM Americas). [SDSN Report Web Page] [SDSN report: Counting on the World: Building Modern Data Systems for Sustainable Development] [PARIS21 Press Release] [PRESS 2017: Partner Report on Support to Statistics] [ECA Press Release] [ECLAC Press Release]

related posts