by Johannes Jütting, Manager, Secretariat of the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21)
The year 2015 marked a milestone for the relevance of data and statistics in the world of development. The international community agreed to commit to a new development agenda that sets goals and targets that will challenge, and also to give prominence to statistical systems in both developing and developed countries alike. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) create an unprecedented demand for data in a broad range of policy fields, triggering new momentum for engagement in statistical capacity building while drawing attention to the importance of data for sustainable development. The discussions around the complex SDG indicator framework, recently endorsed by the United Nations Statistical Commission in New York, have accelerated this process.
Governments from around the world will need timely, accurate and comprehensive data in order to make the right decisions to implement their national SDG action plans and effectively contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Yet, policy makers will be faced with a very diverse set of challenges in order to access this information. The Millennium Development Goals, which focussed primarily on traditional development topics, have shown the difficult nature - especially for least developed countries - of measuring progress even in the most basic areas such as poverty reduction or maternal mortality. This is primarily a consequence of inadequate human, technical and financial resources that need to be addressed by the development community in order to empower local governments. Furthermore, special hardship circumstances such as lack of security or difficult accessibility also play a central role.
Yet, while some of these obstacles to measuring progress are likely to remain for many developing countries under the SDG framework, opportunities to draw from new sources of data have dramatically increased in recent years. In addition to information stemming from traditional sources such as census or civil registration data, governments today can consider the use of crowdsourced data from web applications, big data produced by commercial and non-governmental organisations and data collected through satellite or drone technology. This is an important aspect of what is understood as the Data Revolution, a process that, as the High-level Panel report on the Post-2015 Agenda states, "
draws on existing and new sources of data to fully integrate statistics into decision making, promote open access to, and use of, data and ensure increased support for statistical systems.'"
Today, we are confronted with a situation in which statistical capacity building has the potential of tipping the scales for global development; in which old challenges remain and new opportunities emerge. The agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was reached through an unprecedented global governance effort, but it will be primarily up to national and local governments to provide real impact for citizens. The data community therefore needs to continue to focus on improving national statistical systems, harnessing the current momentum and especially helping governments make use of the new technical and political opportunities that are available.
Statistics Canada's Compendium of Management Practices for Statistical Organizations is a very important and timely contribution to this effort. By focusing on the organisation's expertise in advancing managerial capacity in the national statistical offices of developing countries, the publication empowers governments to make the right decisions and properly track their progress on SDG and their national statistical development strategy (NSDS) implementation. It addresses central aspects of effective management, such as leadership and co-ordination, quality control, budgeting, external relations and partnerships as well as the integration of best practices and international norms. Advancing national statistical offices in these areas is not only important to improve core competencies and strengthen their role as the national statistical system coordinator but it also creates a foundation to develop human and technical capacities so that new areas of operation can be explored and opportunities from the data revolution leveraged.
Finally, a fundamental aspect of this publication is its emphasis on previously successful applications of managerial practices. By determining success factors for each chapter and developing subsequent strategic implications, the Compendium of Management Practices is a hands-on guide for practitioners to create effective organisational improvements. Statistics Canada presents a crucial approach to transforming experience and knowledge in statistical capacity building into practical solutions for officials in national statistical offices. This work is a highly valuable contribution to the continued effort of helping statistical offices around the world adapt to a new era of development. We hope that this publication will facilitate and guide the statistical work of national statistical offices to achieve success.
- Date modified: