UN World Data Forum Studies Challenges, Opportunities for Monitoring SDGs
Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

Sessions at the first UN World Data Forum took place on 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.

At the conclusion of the event, the Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data was launched.

Implementation of the Plan will be evaluated at the second UN World Data Forum, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in late 2018 or early 2019.

18 January 2017: The first UN World Data Forum gathered approximately 2,000 participants for 73 wide-ranging plenary and breakout sessions. Officials launched the Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data, in response to an urgent call for modernizing national statistical offices (NSOs) in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The Forum convened from 15-18 January 2017, in Cape Town, South Africa. It was hosted by Statistics South Africa and organized with the guidance of the UN Statistical Commission and the support of the UN 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).

The Forum took place following the recommendation in the report, ‘A World That Counts: Mobilising the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development,’ which was presented in November 2014 by the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, and the subsequent decision by the UN Statistical Commission that a UN World Data Forum on Sustainable Development Data would be the suitable platform for intensifying cooperation with various professional groups, such as NSOs, information technology and geospatial information managers, and data scientists among other representatives of government, intergovernmental organizations and civil society.

Plenary and breakout sessions at the first UN WDF enabled discussion of 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. During the opening ceremony, Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the Forum constituted an important milestone towards ensuring the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He called on statisticians to provide disaggregated data to guide the implementation of appropriate measures for achieving sustainable development.

During the opening plenary, 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. Representatives from NSOs, data scientists from the private sector and academia, international organizations, and civil society organizations discussed challenges and opportunities for harnessing the power of data and monitoring to contribute to the achievement of the 17 SDGs, which were adopted by UN Member States in September 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda.

The Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data sets out a framework for countries to assess, build and strengthen NSO capacity.

In addition, a number of initiatives were announced and several publications were launched during the Forum, including the Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data. The Global Action Plan was prepared by the HLG, and sets out a framework for countries to assess, build and strengthen NSO capacity. The Plan is divided into six strategic areas: coordination and strategic leadership on data for sustainable development; innovation and modernization of national statistical systems; strengthening of basic statistical activities and programmes, with particular focus on addressing the monitoring needs of the 2030 Agenda; dissemination and use of sustainable development data; multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development data; and mobilization of resources and coordination of efforts for statistical capacity building.

This Plan is expected to be adopted by the UN Statistical Commission during its March 2017 meeting (UNSC 48). Implementation of the Plan will be evaluated at the second UN World Data Forum, which will convene in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at the end of 2018 or early 2019. [IISD Reporting Services Coverage of the UN World Data Forum] [UN World Data Forum Website] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Opening Statements] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Preparation of Global Action Plan] [UN Press Release] [DESA Press Release]


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