The World celebrates achievements of official statistics

“Let us make this historic World Statistics Day a success by acknowledging and celebrating the role of statistics in the social and economic development of our societies and by dedicating further efforts and resources to strengthening national statistical capacity,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a letter to World Leaders in July 2010.

For the first time this 20 October, the observance of World Statistics Day (WSD) will bring the world’s attention to the importance of statistics in decision-making. The United Nations General Assembly designated this day to acknowledge the crucial role of statistics in policy-making, transparency and accountability.

The WSD was established by a resolution of the General Assembly in June this year under the theme “Celebrating the many achievements of official statistics,” acknowledging their importance for national socio-economic development and as a basic pillar of democracy.

The date 20 October 2010 was chosen as the year rounding in ‘0’ has always been an important year in official statistics. In many countries, this is the year when the population and housing census is conducted. It is also the base year for the trend analysis in economic statistics or in compilation of national accounts or input-output tables. In 2010, some 3 billion people will be counted in some 60 countries. The date, 20-10-2010 brings into focus the importance of this year.

The United Nations resolution asserts that it is essential for countries to count with national statistics capabilities in order to produce reliable and timely statistics and indicators that may serve as the basis for informed decisions based on the core values of service, integrity and professionalism. The document recognizes the long history of official statistics and the facilitating role played by the United Nations since the creation in 1947 of the Statistical Commission, which was tasked with promoting the development of national statistics and improving their comparability, coordinating the statistical work of specialized agencies, developing central statistical services of the Secretariat, advising the organs of the United Nations on general questions relating to the collection, analysis and dissemination of statistical information and promoting the improvement of statistics and statistical methods generally.

The resolution also highlights the fundamental importance of sustainable national statistical capacity to produce reliable and timely statistics and indicators measuring a country’s progress, which are an indispensable basis for informed policy decision making and for monitoring the Millennium Development Goals. The celebration of the World Statistics Day (WSD) will acknowledge the service provided by the global statistical system at national and international level, and hope to help strengthen the awareness and trust of the public in official statistics. It serves as an advocacy tool to further support the work of statisticians across different settings, cultures, and domains.

A Worldwide Celebration

The first ever World Statistics Day on 20 October 2010 is expected to be celebrated in nearly 100 countries and by 40 international organizations. Special events to mark the Day often include conferences, symposia, round-tables, press conferences and exhibits

Activities at national level will highlight the role of official statistics and the many achievements of the national statistical system. International, regional and subregional organizations will complement national activities with additional events.

The President of Peru, Alan Garcia Pérez, will host a conference to celebrate World Statistics Day in the President’s residence Palacio de Gobierno. In Italy, a message from the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, will be issued to mark the Day.

In Morocco, the King will participate in the observance of the event. Commemorative WSD stamps will be issued in China and Mauritius.

The UK’s Royal Statistical Society will launch on 20 October a major statistical literacy campaign to sensitize the public on the benefits of statistics.The International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS) is organizing a special conference in Santiago, Chile to commemorate the WSD.

At the same time, many countries will use WSD to raise public awareness about their censuses, through press events or promotional materials in schools.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of China and the United Nations will organize at the United Nations Pavilion of the World EXPO Shanghai 2010 a ceremony featuring high-level officials of China.

The United Nations will hold a press launch of major statistical reports. One report will be on the current situation of women worldwide, 15 years after Beijing’s World Conference on Women called “World’s Women 2010”. This publication was released by DESA’s Statistical Division and will be launched in New York and Shanghai.

United Nations bodies will organize joint conferences, meetings or receptions to mark World Statistics Day in Geneva, Vienna, Santiago, Washington and Montreal.

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