22 October 2018

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Data Talks [as prepared for delivery]

The full ambition of the 2030 Agenda cannot be realized without quality, timely, relevant, open and disaggregated data. 
Data is fundament to both the design and implementation of action and long-term policies that are needed for the achievement of the SDGs. 
New solutions are being developed that leverage the power of new data sources and technologies, through partnerships between national statistical authorities and the private sector, civil society and the academia. 
We have seen how the integration of statistical and geospatial information, through interoperable platforms, can provide policy makers and development actors with the information they need, visualized on maps for immediate and effective action.
Open and accessible data shed light on how well governments are performing, and can hold decision-makers accountable, engaging citizens and strengthening trust in public institutions.
The need for accurate and timely data goes beyond policy-matters. Data can profoundly improve the lives of ordinary people.
The UN is leading and supporting work in this area. 
In 2017, the United Nations Statistical Commission adopted the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data, which identifies key areas to address key statistical capacity building needs. This is an instructive roadmap of the way forward. 
We are also working with the global data community to develop tools for integrating big data and other new data sources into better and more relevant official statistics. 
Digital government and frontier technology, such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, blockchain and robotics, can greatly enhance delivery of key services.
Harnessing the Data Revolution requires creating the conditions of an enabling environment with the adequate ethical norms, data privacy and data protection frameworks in place so that new sources of data can be used safely and responsibly for the public good.
In this regard, the UN Sustainable Development Group which I chair has developed a Guidance Note on privacy, data protection and ethics in the use of big data for the SDGs, which is now in use by over 30 UN agencies.
Moreover, earlier this month, a senior management committee of the United Nations adopted a set of Principles on Personal Data Protection and Privacy.
It can generate and use large amounts of data across areas such as health, education, food and water, decent work and employment, social protection, and environment. 
It also enables us to provide a space for active and meaningful citizen engagement and participation. It also allows us to ensure we leave no one behind. 
For these data to be harnessed effectively, national statistical systems and data providers are redefining and transforming themselves into agile and responsive entities. 
This means that increased political and financial support for data is needed and strategic partnerships with a wide range of partners are necessary. 
Together, we can ensure that everyone, everywhere truly participates and benefits from the promise of the 2030 Agenda.
Thank you.