Hernán D. Muñoz
Data Ecosystem Advisor
The third United Nations World Data Forum (UNWDF) was held in Bern, Switzerland, during the first week of October. The UNWDF runs every two years and is the main data event held in the framework of the 2030 Agenda. The data revolution implied fertile ground for the proliferation of data and new actors claiming a place in the information ecosystem to account for the sustainable development agenda. It was conceived as a meeting platform between the data and official statistics communities, in order to achieve more ambitious goals by working together. Cepei has been part of the Program Committee since the organization of the first Forum, which was held in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2017.
During the time between the second Forum, held in Dubai, and this third meeting, the Swiss government carried out at the global level the Road to Bern initiative. To promote a space for debate in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the project partnered with Cepei, the Colombian National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), and the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO) to discuss the four thematic lines of the Road to Bern program: Data for social responsibility, more and better data financing for better decision making, gender statistics and leaving no one behind.
Road to Bern was very successful in promoting the UNWDF in the LAC region. In Bern, we were able to count on the presence of eight Directors of National Statistical Offices (NSOs) from Latin America. This is double the number of Directors of the two previous Forums. Throughout this process, we accompanied the national statistical offices present, five of which have memorandums of understanding for joint collaboration with Cepei.
The COVID-19 pandemic has become, in many ways, a milestone of our era. Modernization in data production was progressively advancing, but the incorporation of novel elements accelerated significantly as the pandemic proved to be a catalyst. Therefore, the UNWDF 2021 was held at a time of unique opportunity to work together to ensure that progress has a homogeneous impact among countries, specifically in our region, while keeping the promise of leaving no one behind.
To this aim, Cepei played a very active role, co-organizing three of the Forum’s panels and holding meetings with partners, donors and different actors in the data community to consolidate and strengthen networks at the regional and global levels, and thus achieve a multi-stakeholder approach to data capacity building.
Further, on October 7, Cepei organized, together with DANE, FSO Switzerland and the support of Tableau, a working breakfast with the presence of colleagues from multilateral organizations, civil society, the private sector, academia and country representatives.  The objective of the meeting was to present the results of the Road to Bern initiative and discuss the steps to be taken ahead of the next forums in China (2023) and Colombia (2024). Among the findings of the activities carried out within the framework of Road to Bern in LAC was the need for greater integration of existing initiatives, and examples of successful dynamics based on multi-stakeholder partnerships, where each party contributes specific skills to achieve a common result, were presented. There were also recurring discussions on the need to bring data closer to users by means of more attractive narratives and visualizations. In addition, it was noted that there is a growing need to build greater trust and promote the collaboration of the population as a whole to produce and disseminate better data.
This is why in Bern we launched an activity that will help pave the way leading up to 2024 in Medellin, Colombia, where Cepei is headquartered. We are very excited to welcome the global data community and contribute to this process.
The interventions of those present during the breakfast referred to the need to share more experiences between countries and communities, break down silos and use the languages of each region to attract more stakeholders. In this sense, with the aim of bringing this discussion to life, Cepei, together with a consortium of organizations and statistical offices, launched the Latin American and Caribbean Community of Practice on Data Driven Communication. This initiative seeks to create a space for multi-stakeholder co-creation, where different groups of actors will work on how to effectively communicate data and statistics. The aim of this initiative is to go beyond the traditional peer-to-peer working groups, to move towards a community that draws on the experiences gained by experts from different areas of communication. This includes communication teams from national statistical offices, but also their colleagues from the media, the private sector, academia, civil society, the data science community and other areas of governments. In this way, experts will share their experiences not only with their peers from the region, but also with actors from other communities.
The community of practice will focus on two dimensions: 1. Capacity building, which will operate at a more technical level and will work with the communication teams sharing tools and experiences; and 2. The strategic level, which will address actions for trust building and problem solving, where, among others, the directors of the NSOs will participate through their experiences and sharing what is happening in their countries in real time.
Cepei’s mission is to consolidate and implement a proactive agenda to generate better data for sustainable development, and we will be working to maximize this objective during The Road to Medellin.
 Participaron del evento los colegas de la Global Partnership (GPSDD), UNSD, Paris21, IISD, Open Data Watch, IPUMS, Web Foundation, Geocensos, Danish Institute for Human Rights, AIMS, GIZ, Statistics Norway, ISI, y los directores de estadística del INEC de Ecuador, INEGI de México, IBGE de Brasil, INE Angola y PCBS de Palestina (actual co-Chair del HLG-PCCB).