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 and government agencies to routinely 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 their 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 we offer


 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 towards the SDGs globally. It also helps build national statistical capacities and systems for SDG indicator formulation, tracking, and data management, including big data and geospatial infrastructure management, and statistical governance, which includes policies, law and institutions.

HOW – Delivery Modalities and Resources

UN DESA’s support to national statistical capacities and systems is provided through various modalities, ranging from knowledge management dissemination, direct technical assistance and capacity development support for evidence-based policymaking.

Knowledge Networks and Direct Support

  • A global network of national and international statisticians, formalized through the UN Statistical Commission’s expert groups. It provides 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;
  • Global Network of Data Officers and Statisticians -a professional social network that connects statisticians, data officers and scientists, and geospatial information experts from national statistical systems, regional and international organizations, and the UN Resident Coordinator Offices. It promotes collaboration, coordination, knowledge sharing, networking, and technical support to help build resilient and sustainable national data and information systems for the implementation of the SDGs.
  • Hotline [statistics@un.org] 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.;

Global Databases and Platforms

  • 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;
  • SDG indicator platform: dissemination platform of the Global SDG Indicators database and other SDG indicator related resources. The platform contains reference to metadata information provided by UN system and other international organizations in charge of global data collection for indicators in the Global Indicator Framework. The platform also hosts a toolkit for UNCT on SDG monitoring and reporting, which provides tools to assess national statistical capacity for the SDGs as well as guidance and tools to assess SDG data gaps and capacity development needs for SDG monitoring, including UN info dashboard on SDG country profile.
  • Open SDG Data Hub: 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;
  • Demographic Data and Trends
  • UN data
  • National Accounts
  • International Trade
  • UNDESA-STAT COVID-19 Response
  • UN Global Platformcloud-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 SDG indicators. Data innovation is driven by active collaboration of statisticians, data scientists and data engineers from the statistical community, academia, private sector and non-governmental institutes.
  • Global Core Set of Forest Related Indicators [upcoming]: to be finalized by 15 forest-related international organizations and conventions]
  • Clearing House (CH) of the Global Forest Financing Network (GFFFN) [upcoming]: an online platform and database on forest financing opportunities and flows, which will provide: a comprehensive up-to-date database on forest financing opportunities for sustainable forest management, drawing on all existing sources of information; a web-based interactive platform to exchange data, lessons learned and best practices among users; data for assessing progress on target 15.b of the SDGs and Global Forest Goals.

E-learning materials and toolkits 

  • E-handbook on SDG indicators: catered to the growing needs of national statisticians to collect data, calculate, and monitor the SDGs using data produced by national statistical systems. The handbook provides a comprehensive yet straightforward reference focused on key aspects – such as concepts, definition, sources, calculations– that are essential to measuring indicators.
  • StaTact: toolkit developed in collaboration with UNITAR to address measurement gaps to monitor national policies for the SDGs in selected areas. The toolkit provides an analytical framework and multi-stakeholder methodology to bring together national experts from NSOs, Ministries and the broader data community to address institutional impediments to data collection, production and utilization, leveraging all data sources -including Big Data, geospatial, etc.- to support evidence-based policy-making.
  • UN SDG:learn hub for statistics courses developed as a joint effort by members of the Global Network of Institutes for Statistical Training (GIST). 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.
  • Global Network of Institutes for Statistical Training (GIST) – brings together 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 for SDG monitoring and implementation.

Capacity Development

  • UNSD-FCDO Project on SDG Monitoringproject supporting 20 project countries in SDG monitoring and COVID-19 data response;
  • Data for Now Initiative [upcoming] – focuses on developing countries’ capacities to deliver information needed by local and national policy and decision makers to achieve the 2030 Agenda. It is a joint effort of UN DESA, World Bank, Global Partnership for Development Data (GPSDD) and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), aimed to leverage innovative sources, technologies and methods to streamline production and dissemination of better, more timely and disaggregated data for sustainable development. Currently being implemented in 8 pilot countries;
  • Collaborative on Administrative Data – initiative aimed to strengthen capacity of national statistical systems to access and use administrative data for statistical purposes, building on advances and good practices made in various sectors and by different partners -including regional and international organizations. The initiative provides a platform to share tools, best practices and experiences in combining administrative sources to enhance quality, timeliness, and disaggregation of statistical data.
  • Global Calendar of Statistical Events [upcoming]– uses automatized web scraping techniques and limited manual data collection to collect and disseminate information on events for statistical capacity building organized by UN entities and international and regional organizations with the participation of several countries. Events organized by national development agencies and national statistical offices are currently not included, neither are events benefiting individual countries.