As the world continues to recover from COVID-19, we need quality data more than ever to support the decisions we make to improve people’s lives. Understanding the data that surrounds us is understanding how to use data to get back on track to achieve the global goals. Ahead of the UN World Data Forum this month, here are four things you need know about data:

1. Better data helps us recover better from COVID-19

The pandemic showed the world that data can mean the difference between life and death. Many countries struggled to deliver the real number of COVID-19 losses and the data needed to mitigate the impact and plan for the recovery. But these challenges also resulted in new ideas to fill the gap in data collection, including innovative methods such as online and telephone-based surveys, and the use of administrative data sources, credit card and scanner data.

2. Data protects the most vulnerable

The lack of data has a direct impact on people’s lives and can affect the progress of the most vulnerable. For instance, data gaps on children and their families can severely limit the ability of a country to ensure the delivery of the services they need. Only with data that shows areas at risk of for example high child mortality, can a government take measures to prevent deaths.

3. Better data supports good policies and effective governments

Data driven decision-making is critical to ensure that the outcomes meet the needs of the people. Good policies rely on quality data to determine the best solutions to some of our greatest challenges including climate change, poverty and inequalities. Quality data also helps us understand global trends and monitor progress.

4. UN World Data Forum advances data for the SDGs

On 3-6 October, the UN World Data Forum will showcase progress made to implement the data revolution and the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data. It will examine ways to improve data capabilities; to innovative methods and partnerships for new data solutions; review data privacy and security; and assess if the data community has been able to improve data to leave no one behind. Bringing together hundreds of data experts, user and producers, the Forum will advance data to benefit people and planet.

Browse this page to learn more about the UN World Data Forum in Bern, Switzerland.

Photo: UNICEF/UN0390428/Vishwanathan