Welcome to the United Nations

Areas of Work: Evidence-based Policy

UN Photo/Tim McKulka

Evidence-based policy aims to make effective and successful policy decisions based on solid data and statistics.  UN DESA’s work on data and statistics is geared to advise and build the capacity of National Statistical Offices to produce, collect, compile, store, analyze and disseminate official statistics and indicators consistent with international  standards, in the areas of social statistics; economic statistics, (including international trade, financing flows and gaps, economic globalization, tourism, energy and industrial statistics); environmental statistics and environmental economic accounting; and statistics related to the SDGs and indicators to support policy formulation. As the Secretariat of the UN Statistical Commission, UN DESA has an authoritative voice on developing concepts and methods to implement the international statistical standards set by the Commission at global, regional and national levels.  It also advises on forests-related indicators, on demographic projections, and on geospatial information management.

WHAT

 UN DESA brings together global expertise, state-of-the-art knowledge and best practice in development statistics to help modernize statistical information systems and fill the data gaps to measure, monitor, assess and report on progress to achieve the SDGs globally and to build national statistical capacities and systems for SDG indicator formulation, tracking, and data management, including big data and geospatial infrastructure management, and statistical governance (including policies, law and institutions).

HOW – Delivery Modalities and Resources                                   

 UN DESA’s support to national statistical capacities and systems is provided through various sources and modalities:

  1. Online global knowledge platforms that provide access to the latest intergovernmental deliberations on international statistical standards; existing databases, guidance manuals, toolkits, and e-learning material on data and statistics related to the SDGs and statistical governance;
  2. Direct technical assistance (remotely or in-country), including a hotline for rapid response on matters related to statistical law, international norm and standards, big data and methodologies for data collection and analysis, environmental-economic accounting, and geospatial infrastructure management;
  3. A global network of national and international statisticians, formalized through the UN Statistical Commission’s expert groups providing access to a wider informal network of statistical experts that can be easily contacted and engaged to provide technical expertise and advisory services to address specific national needs;
  4. Capacity development support to national statisticians in National Statistical Offices and government agencies to routinely produce, collect, compile, store, analyze and disseminate official statistics using an array of tools and methodological guidelines. Such support is delivered through global and regional workshops, expert meetings, seminars as well as through multi-country projects in selected pilot countries.

Key UN DESA tools and resources to build capacity for evidence-based policies:

Global Databases and Platforms

    • SDG indicator platform: a dissemination platform of the Global SDG Indicators database and other SDG indicator related resources. The platform also contains reference metadata information provided by the UN system and other international organizations who are in charge of global data collection of the indicator in the Global Indicator Framework. The platform also hosts a toolkit for UNCT on SDG monitoring and reporting which contains various tools to assess national statistical capacity particularly as it relates to the SDGs, and guidance and tools to assess SDG data gaps and capacity development needs for SDG monitoring, including a UN info dashboard on SDG country profile. The toolkit was developed by the UNSDG Task Team on Country-focused Data and Reporting to provide immediate guidance and links to experts, as well as tools that help to monitor and display progress against the SDGs at the country level. The platform also contains a UN info dashboard on SDG country profile;
    • Open SDG Data Hub: a data sharing arrangement to provide access to accurate, timely, disaggregated, accessible and ready to use data and statistics from a wealth of authoritative SDG data sources to support evidence-based decision making and advocacy. It enables data dissemination across data users and producers;
    • UN data
    • National Accounts
    • International Trade
    • Global Core Set of Forest Related Indicators (soon to be finalized by 15 forest-related international organizations and conventions)
    • Clearing House (CH) of the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network (GFFFN): an online platform and database on forest financing opportunities and flows (its phase 1 is expected to be operational at the end of 2020), which will provide: a) a comprehensive up-to-date database on forest financing opportunities from all sources for sustainable forest management, drawing and building on existing initiatives and sources of information, including information on procedures for accessing resources; b) a web-based interactive platform for the exchange of data, lessons learned and best practices among users, including, for example, on project conceptualization and; c) a source of data for assessing progress on target 15.b of the Sustainable Development Goals and Global Forest Goal 4.
    • UNDESA-STAT COVID-19 Response
    • UN Global Platform: a cloud-based digital environment for international collaboration on the use of Big Data sources and advanced technologies to develop new methods for economic and social statistics, including the Sustainable Development Goals indicators. The data innovation is driven by active collaboration of statisticians, data scientists and data engineers from the statistical community, and from academia, private sector and non-governmental institutes.

E-learning materials and toolkits 

  • E-handbook on SDG indicators: intended to target the growing need for information catered towards national statisticians to collect, calculate, and monitor the SDGs using data produced by the national statistical systems. The handbook provides a comprehensive yet straightforward reference that focuses on key aspects–such as concepts, definition, sources, calculations–that are essential to measuring indicators.
  • UN SDG:learn hub for statistics courses has been developed as a joint effort by the members of the Global Network of Institutes for Statistical Training (GIST). A number of courses from different organizations are displayed by type of learning, statistical domain and SDG goal. For each course there is also explanatory text about the content, length, language and price of the course. If the course is of interest, there is a link to go to the page of the organization who provides it;
  • StaTact: a tool developed in partnership with UNITAR to enable countries to address measurement gaps that impede monitoring national policies and leveraging the power of Agenda 2030. It provides an analytical framework and a multi-stakeholder methodology to enable a team of national experts from National Statistical Offices, concerned Ministries and other parts of data community, including non-traditional data sources to design a short-term action plan with a focus on addressing institutional impediments to data collection, production and utilization. The objective is to bring together data producers, holders and users and help them achieve their goals at the lowest cost within one year. The tool contributes to improve data governance and utilization for policy-making purposes in selected priority areas through better dialogue and collaboration within NSOs and the leveraging of administrative data and other non-traditional data sources as Big Data, NGOs, geospatial, etc.

Capacity Development

  • UNSD-FCDO Project on SDG Monitoring: supporting 20 project countries in SDG monitoring and COVID-19 data response;
  • Data for Now initiative (link coming soon) – aims to develop countries’ capacities to deliver the information needed by local and national policy and decision makers to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The main objective is to leverage innovative sources, technologies and methods for the streamlined production and dissemination of better, more timely and disaggregated data for sustainable development. It is co-convened by DESA/Statistics Division, World Bank, Global Partnership for Development Data (GPSDD) and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and currently works with 8 pilot countries;
  • Collaborative on administrative dataworks with a number of countries, regional and international organizations to exchange experiences on the use of administrative data for statistical purposes. Two main goals are to look at this from a process angle across different thematic areas and to make more widely available more practical level good practices and tools;
  • Global Network of Institutes for Statistical Training (GIST) – brings together a number of experts in statistical training from international agencies, regional training institutes and statistical offices that support other countries. The Goal of the GIST is to build sustainable capacities in countries through efficient, effective, and harmonized delivery of training at global and regional levels that will enable production and use of quality data and statistics including monitoring and implementation of SDGs.
  • Global Calendar of Statistical Events – uses automatized web scraping techniques and limited manual data collection to collect statistical (capacity development) events and to re-disseminate the collected information in a single calendar. The scope of the calendar is on statistical events organized by UN entities and other international and regional organizations which have the participation of several countries and with a special focus on statistical capacity development events. Events organized by national development agencies and by national statistical offices are currently not included, neither are events that benefit only single countries (e.g. country missions). The calendar is currently under development and is approaching its open beta phase;
  • UNSD Brown Bag Seminars – are a series of one-hour-long presentations that cover a wide range of topics on official statistics, data science, and geospatial information, and which feature internal speakers as well as external speakers from universities and organizations outside of the UN system. Our Brown Bag Seminars showcase new developments in methods, data processing, and dissemination by introducing to our participants new tools and approaches. The audience is exclusively made of staff members of the wider UN system which provides a safe space to discuss current and emerging issues among peers. To join the UNSD Brown Bag email distribution list, please fill-in this short form.

E-learning materials and toolkits

  • E-handbook on SDG indicators: intended to target the growing need for information catered towards national statisticians to collect, calculate, and monitor the SDGs using data produced by the national statistical systems. The handbook provides a comprehensive yet straightforward reference that focuses on key aspects–such as concepts, definition, sources, calculations–that are essential to measuring indicators.
  • UN SDG:learn hub for statistics courses has been developed as a joint effort by the members of the Global Network of Institutes for Statistical Training (GIST). A number of courses from different organizations are displayed by type of learning, statistical domain and SDG goal. For each course there is also explanatory text about the content, length, language and price of the course. If the course is of interest, there is a link to go to the page of the organization who provides it;
  • StaTact: a tool developed in partnership with UNITAR to enable countries to address measurement gaps that impede monitoring national policies and leveraging the power of Agenda 2030. It provides an analytical framework and a multi-stakeholder methodology to enable a team of national experts from National Statistical Offices, concerned Ministries and other parts of data community, including non-traditional data sources to design a short-term action plan with a focus on addressing institutional impediments to data collection, production and utilization. The objective is to bring together data producers, holders and users and help them achieve their goals at the lowest cost within one year. The tool contributes to improve data governance and utilization for policy-making purposes in selected priority areas through better dialogue and collaboration within NSOs and the leveraging of administrative data and other non-traditional data sources as Big Data, NGOs, geospatial, etc.

Capacity Development

  • UNSD-FCDO Project on SDG Monitoring: supporting 20 project countries in SDG monitoring and COVID-19 data response;
  • Data for Now initiative (link coming soon) – aims to develop countries’ capacities to deliver the information needed by local and national policy and decision makers to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The main objective is to leverage innovative sources, technologies and methods for the streamlined production and dissemination of better, more timely and disaggregated data for sustainable development. It is co-convened by DESA/Statistics Division, World Bank, Global Partnership for Development Data (GPSDD) and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and currently works with 8 pilot countries;
  • Collaborative on administrative dataworks with a number of countries, regional and international organizations to exchange experiences on the use of administrative data for statistical purposes. Two main goals are to look at this from a process angle across different thematic areas and to make more widely available more practical level good practices and tools;
  • Global Network of Institutes for Statistical Training (GIST) – brings together a number of experts in statistical training from international agencies, regional training institutes and statistical offices that support other countries. The Goal of the GIST is to build sustainable capacities in countries through efficient, effective, and harmonized delivery of training at global and regional levels that will enable production and use of quality data and statistics including monitoring and implementation of SDGs.
  • Global Calendar of Statistical Events – uses automatized web scraping techniques and limited manual data collection to collect statistical (capacity development) events and to re-disseminate the collected information in a single calendar. The scope of the calendar is on statistical events organized by UN entities and other international and regional organizations which have the participation of several countries and with a special focus on statistical capacity development events. Events organized by national development agencies and by national statistical offices are currently not included, neither are events that benefit only single countries (e.g. country missions). The calendar is currently under development and is approaching its open beta phase;
  • UNSD Brown Bag Seminars – are a series of one-hour-long presentations that cover a wide range of topics on official statistics, data science, and geospatial information, and which feature internal speakers as well as external speakers from universities and organizations outside of the UN system. Our Brown Bag Seminars showcase new developments in methods, data processing, and dissemination by introducing to our participants new tools and approaches. The audience is exclusively made of staff members of the wider UN system which provides a safe space to discuss current and emerging issues among peers. To join the UNSD Brown Bag email distribution list, please fill-in this short form.

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