DESA News Vol. 11, No. 7 July 2007

Technical cooperation

Towards effective compilation of basic economic statistics

DESA’s Statistics Division assesses data collection practices in eight African countries

Improving the compilation of basic economic statistics in African countries is the goal of a regional workshop taking place in Pretoria, South Africa, from 23 to 26 July. The Statistics Division in DESA will lead the training in cooperation with the Government of South Africa, in what will be the first exchange of views on practices in the collection of basic economic statistics in Africa. Eight African countries – Ethiopia, Botswana, Ghana, Mauritius, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa – are taking part in the workshop, together with a representative of ECA. The outcome of the discussion will be used to form provisional recommendations, and prepare a technical report on the issues.

The workshop begins with a broad look at the state of economic statistics in Africa, including identification of data series, and a discussion of their relevance to policy-making. Africa’s institutional and regulatory frameworks for management of economic statistics will be discussed, before moving, on 24 July, to country presentations on the main problems practitioners face on a daily basis. Recommendations on ways to improve economic surveys will follow.

Three sessions will draw attention to economic censuses and their role in compilation of economic statistics during which DESA will present the results of its recent survey on country practices. The advantages and disadvantages of economic censuses will be presented. Strengthening national statistical infrastructure and interagency cooperation are necessary for more effective data compilation, and discussants will help identify ways to realize such goals. On 26 July, the last day, a roundtable discussion will address the question of how to make basic economic statistics more useful for compilation of national accounts.

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Training on the ABCs of environmental statistics

Workshop in Ethiopia promotes regional networking

Close to fifty participants from national statistical offices and environmental ministries from Southern and Eastern African countries will be trained on basic concepts, methods and best practices in environmental statistics from 16 to 20 July in Addis Ababa. A recommended core set of environmental indicators for application at the national and regional levels will also be introduced, covering freshwater resources and their use, marine resources, land use and land degradation, forests, biodiversity, air emissions and air quality, in addition to waste, natural disasters and environmental health.

Networking opportunities are an important part of the workshop, and participants in attendance will be invited to exchange information on the status of national environment statistics during and after the event. The workshop is being organized by the DESA Statistics Division in collaboration with UNEP and ECA.

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Water statistics and accounts

DESA’s Statistics Division in collaboration with the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic is organizing a workshop on water accounting that will take place from 16 to 18 July in Santo Domingo. The objectives of meeting are to give participants an overview of environmental accounting, present the framework and uses of the system of environmental-economic accounts for water, and discuss the conditions under which the system can be best implemented in the region.

The workshop will bring together experts from the National Statistical Offices and the Ministries of Environment and Water Authorities from Latin American and the Caribbean. Participants will share their experiences in the development and implementation of water statistics and accounts. Papers on the state of water statistics and accounting, water policy, water management or water information needs in countries of the region may be presented.

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A prescription to boost people’s trust in government

World attention drawn to a global cancer of low trust in the agents of State

The 7th Global Forum ended on 29 June in Vienna having brought together more than 2,000 delegates from over 160 countries including heads of state and government, ministers, parliamentarians, senior officials, civil society representatives and the private sector. The theme of the four-day discussion was building trust in government.

Forum participants agreed that immediate actions must be taken by Member States to broaden areas of social consensus and improve governance and public administration. Acknowledging that there is no single recipe to build trust in government, the declaration says that while principles of democratic governance such as transparency, accountability and citizens' engagement are universal, there is a need to recognize that there is no one size fits all approach.

Key recommendations of the Vienna declaration include: securing legitimacy of government; prioritizing service delivery and access; enabling public-private partnerships; increasing transparency and accountability to combat corruption; improving the access of developing countries to ICTs; supporting effective civil society engagement; focusing on making women's concerns central to implementation; bringing government closer to people; promoting innovations in public sector reform; rebuilding trust in crisis and post conflict countries.

Small panels of ministers in each region should meet informally once or twice a year to review their experiences in dealing with selected issues of trust-building and to make recommendations, participants urged. The same organizations should meet and share information with local administrators of cities and towns, especially in countries with decentralized authority. The participants recommended yearly regional and sub-regional round tables of parliamentarians so that peoples' representatives around the world can stay connected and aware of each other's innovative practices and institutional designs.

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Expanding e-government in Saint Lucia

Promoting partnerships among Caribbean countries to encourage the spread of e-government has been a priority for DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management for several years. Efforts by Saint Lucia to integrate public services through technology-driven initiatives are a case in point.

At the government’s request, DESA has produced a feasibility study that analyzes gaps and identifies steps and resources needed to move forward. The study, which will be presented to policy-makers in Castries on 24 July, includes an action plan to bolster the efficiency and effectiveness of public services, transform the way that the government of Saint Lucian interacts with citizens, and facilitate delivery of services that match citizens’ needs.