UN World Data Forum Considering Role of Data, Statistics for SDG Implementation
Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The first UN WDF Forum is considering six themes: New approaches to capacity development for better data; Innovations and synergies across different data ecosystems; Leaving no one behind; Understanding the world through data; Data principles and governance; and The way forward: A Global Action Plan for Data.

Participants are expected to develop new partnerships and commitments, and the launch of the Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data will be another key outcome of the Forum.

16 January 2017: Participants at the first UN World Data Forum are considering the role of data and statistics in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in relation to six Forum themes: New approaches to capacity development for better data; Innovations and synergies across different data ecosystems; Leaving no one behind; Understanding the world through data; Data principles and governance; and The way forward: A Global Action Plan for Data.

The Forum is being hosted by Statistics South Africa and with the support of the Statistics Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (HLG). It is taking place in Cape Town, South Africa, from 15-18 January 2017.

In opening statements on 15 January, Pali Lehohla, Statistician-General, Statistics South Africa, called for thought leadership within the data community to fearlessly eradicate inaccurate or false statistics, and emphasized the role of data and statistics in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the first UN World Data Forum is an important milestone towards ensuring the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda. He highlighted the launch of the Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data as a key outcome of the Forum. Jeff Radebe, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Chairperson of the National Planning Commission of South Africa, said open government cannot succeed without open data that is freely accessible to all citizens, and that “numbers will form the bedrock of a better life for all.”

The current pace of collecting and analyzing data is not sufficient to address the SDGs, said Enrico Giovanni.

On 16 January, Macharia Kamau, Special Envoy for the President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), on behalf of UNGA President Peter Thomson, underlined the need to: deliver data for sustainable actions to achieve the SDGs; engage reliable providers and producers of data on SDG implementation; and use disaggregated data to address inequalities and ensure no one is left behind. Enrico Giovanni, former co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development (IEAG), urged participants to increase the pace of collecting and analyzing data, as the current pace is not sufficient to address the SDGs. Stefan Schweinfest, Director, Statistics Division, DESA, underscored the need for rules and principles in the new “national data architecture” to support national-level decision making. The proceedings on the second day also included 28 panel sessions, with participants considering topics related to the state of the art in data visualization, big data innovations, capacity development for better data, and using administrative data for statistics, among other topics.

The UN World Data Forum was organized based on a recommendation in the report titled, ‘A World That Counts,’ which was presented in November 2014 by the IEAG. Approximately 2000 participants registered to attend the Forum. The second UN World Data Forum is expected to be held in two years. [IISD RS coverage of the UN World Data Forum] [UN World Data Forum website] [UN Press Release, 14 January] [UN Press Release, 15 January] [UN Press Release, 16 January] [UNRIC Press Release] [Interviews with Statisticians ahead of WDF]


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