The World Data Forum meetings and associated projects have played an important role in “support[ing] governments and stakeholders with adequate data to monitor and measure progress,” to enable the digital transformation.
The Hangzhou Declaration calls for, inter alia, an “urgent and sustained increase in the level and scale of investments in data and statistics” from a variety of sources to strengthen statistical capacity in low-income countries and close data gaps for vulnerable groups.
The UN World Data Forum issued a declaration reflecting on the importance of high-quality, timely, open, and inclusive data to achieve the SDGs by 2030. In it, Forum participants resolve to renew commitments to working as a global community under the UN and to undertake collective action to address challenges “on the path to modernized and stronger data and statistical systems to support the achievement of the SDGs.”
The Fourth UN World Data Forum convened in Hangzhou, China, from 24-27 April 2023. More than 1,000 participants attended the Forum, with close to 10,000 visitors joining online interactive platform and virtual sessions.
Citing UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary report of the meeting notes that “data represents in the 21st century what oil did in the 20th century,” and highlights the critical importance of data for achieving the SDGs. It further notes that “similar to oil, data in its raw form is not useful,” and points to the need to bring it together, connecting data sets through statistical analysis, to harness its power to “inform solutions for challenges facing humanity.”
Among data challenges hindering implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the ENB report mentions “the paucity of data, incompatible and incomparable formats, and lack of adequate institutional capacities in national statistics offices.” It highlights the important role the World Data Forum meetings and associated projects have played in “support[ing] governments and stakeholders with adequate data to monitor and measure progress,” to enable the digital transformation.
The 2023 World Data Forum focused on the theme, ‘Towards Data that Empowers our World.’ Discussions centered around four thematic areas:
- Innovation and Partnerships for Better and More Inclusive Data;
- Maximizing the Use and Value of Data for Better Decision Making;
- Building Trust and Ethics in Data; and
- Emerging Trends and Partnerships to Develop the Data Ecosystem.
Some 400 speakers participated in nearly 100 sessions, clustered under these thematic areas. The ENB notes that the venue also featured “a 2,000 square meter exhibition area showcasing cutting-edge projects on digital innovation from international organizations and other stakeholders.”
The Hangzhou Declaration, adopted at the conclusion of the Forum, undertakes to revitalize the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data (CTGAP) – the first declaration of the World Data Forum issued in 2017, which is considered “the blueprint for deploying the full range of data and statistics capacity to measure progress towards achieving the SDGs.” In it, Forum participants resolve to establish new priorities under a streamlined set of CTGAP strategic areas covering:
- Coordination and strategic leadership on data for sustainable development;
- Innovation and modernization of national data and statistical systems, with particular focus on addressing the monitoring needs of the 2030 Agenda;
- Dissemination and use of sustainable development data; and
- Multi-stakeholder partnerships to mobilize resources and coordinate efforts for statistical capacity development in infrastructure and human resources.
The Hangzhou Declaration calls for accelerated action to develop a CTGAP-aligned data stewardship approach to drive the innovation and partnerships for data and statistical systems. It also calls for an “urgent and sustained increase in the level and scale of investments in data and statistics” from a variety of sources to strengthen statistical capacity in low-income countries, close data gaps for vulnerable groups, and “enhance country resilience in the current context of economic crisis, conflict, climate change and increased food insecurity.”
The Fourth UN World Data Forum was hosted by the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, with support from the Statistics Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), under the guidance of the UN Statistical Commission and the High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for Statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (HLG-PCCB). [ENB Coverage of UN World Data Forum 2023] [Hangzhou Declaration: Accelerating Progress in the Implementation of the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data]