UN World Data Forum ready for take-off in Dubai

The stage is set for the United Nations World Data Forum, coming up in Dubai on 22-24 October, and all signs indicate that it will be an exciting, innovative and productive event for the global data community. Data leaders from national statistical offices, NGOs, the private sector, academia and international organizations are fully mobilized to collaborate on tackling data gaps and challenges, launching new initiatives and identifying mechanisms to increase financing and support for better data for sustainable development.

The Forum will kick off with an opening ceremony featuring statements by Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General; Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates; and Jack Dangermond, the CEO of Esri, the industry leader in GIS technology used to create digital maps.

At a joint press briefing in mid-September linking Dubai and New York, Abdullah Nasser Lootah, the Director-General of the UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, host of the upcoming Forum, stated that there are nearly 2,000 registrations from over 100 countries, showing an even greater interest than the first Forum in Cape Town, South Africa in January 2017, which already brought together a large number of data experts.

The 2018 Forum will also feature a high-level session on improving migration statistics, which will serve as a contribution towards an international conference that will adopt a global compact for migration, coming up on 10-11 December in Marrakech, Morocco, also supported by UN DESA.

“There is an unprecedented demand for migration data,” said Mr. Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, who will be speaking in Dubai. “The UN World Data Forum will play an important role in helping us set new strategies for how to better track the over 258 million migrants around the world, so that governments and international organizations can ensure safe and orderly movements of people and the services they need.” SDG Advocate Alaa Murabit of The Voice of Libyan Women is also expected to speak at this gathering.

A session on financing for data and statistics, being organized by the High-Level Group for Partnership Coordination and Capacity Building for Statistics for the 2030 Agenda, will focus on how to fill the funding gap for data and statistics. Based on an OECD report, this gap currently is $200 million annually. The session will explore innovative financing solutions that could provide national statistical systems with the necessary resources to monitor progress on the breadth of the 2030 Agenda.

The Cape Town Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data launched at the first Forum set the framework for what needs to be done,” said Stefan Schweinfest, the Director of the Statistics Division in UN DESA, at the recent briefing in September. “But we need implementation and financing, which will be a major focus in Dubai.” He also noted that many new projects will be put forward to produce better data by tapping into non-traditional sources, such as mobile phone data, and that hot topics such as data privacy and governance will also feature at the Forum.

“This is a really important meeting,” summed up Clint Brown of ESRI. To passionately advocate for open data; to promote data as a tool to diagnose and right injustices, especially those against women and children; to examine the human rights implications and prevent the misuse of data innovation for the SDGs; to be able to talk frankly but respectfully with data leaders from so many countries and areas of expertise – these are some of the reasons stated as to why the Forum matters.  As they say, “See you in Dubai.”

For more information:

United Nations World Data Forum

The Cape Town Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data