“Inherent power in data and statistics has never been more important”
Better data has the potential to improve our lives in many ways. From delivering better education, improving gender equality, to promoting inclusive societies where everyone is counted. Better data can even save our lives. Striving to deliver better data to improve the lives of people everywhere, the UN Statistical Commission recently concluded its 50th session.
“The inherent power in data and statistics has never been more important than it is today,” said UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin when he opened the 50th session of the Commission on 5 March 2019.
“In an era when the whole international community is mobilized to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we need data to inform policies, to understand the world we live in, and to monitor and assess progress,” Mr. Liu said.
Mr. Liu went on to stress the vast data needs of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to make sure no one is left behind. “This translates into a wide-spread need for more and better financing for data and statistics, not only for generating new capacities and using innovation to solve the data challenges of the 2030 Agenda, but also, for the basic underlying statistical systems and the strengthening of the existing statistical capacity,” he said.
Delegates from 135 countries, 50 agencies and 14 civil society organizations joined the session, which took place from 5 to 8 March 2019 at UN Headquarters in New York.
The Commission examined 32 official documents, covering a broad spectrum of technical statistical fields, including SDG indicators, capacity building programmes, modernization of statistical systems, big data, open data, quality assurance, national accounts, environmental-economic accounting, disaster-related statistics and international migration statistics.
The Commission also prepared for the upcoming 2020 review of the SDG indicator framework, by endorsing guiding principles, criteria and a timeline for the review.
Taking place before and in parallel to the official session, 87 side events were organized to complement and enrich discussions in key areas such as innovation and capacity building on data for sustainable development.
Discussions honed in on the future of economic statistics, the way forward on open data and data interoperability, the integration of statistics and geospatial information, and the role of national statistical offices in implementing the Digital Agenda.
Many of these events also showcased recent advances in the use of innovative data sources and methods in areas such as gender equality, migration, health, disability, sustainable agriculture, climate change and disaster-related statistics.
Multiple side-events focused on new strategies in financing for data and statistics, coordination among UN System agencies, and new approaches for leveraging the power of data and statistics in evidence-based Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) of the 2030 Agenda, including a country-led system of federated SDG Data Hubs.
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