Between November 19 and 21, the Statistical Conference of the Americas was held in Santiago de Chile, where Cepei made a presentation on how to strengthen statistics for sustainable development: “A great statistical boost for the SDGs”.
The Statistical Conference of the Americas of ECLAC is a subsidiary organ of the Commission. Its mandates include promoting the development and improvement of national statistics and their international comparability, taking into account the recommendations of the United Nations Statistical Commission, specialized agencies and other relevant organizations; promote international, regional and bilateral cooperation between national offices and international and regional organizations, and prepare a program of activities for the promotion of regional and international cooperation that responds to the demands of the countries of the region.
CEPEI AT THE CONFERENCE
As part of the activities of Cepei´s Mission in Santiago de Chile, our Director, Philipp Schönrock, made a presentation on the second day of the Conference that revolved around five axes to strengthen statistics and boost the SDGs:
1. Ensure an enabling environment: Generate mechanisms for data to be the engine of the sustainable development agenda
To ensure an enabling environment, the existence of legal mechanisms that allow different actors to access the world of data is necessary. This implies the need to have a legal framework related to data protection, transparency and open access to data, stressed Schönrock. Additionally, this legal framework must be accompanied by economic, cultural and social incentives that motivate greater use and better data production, as well as greater capacity for interpretation and judgment.
2. Build trust in data: Establish standards of reliability, transparency and data quality
Regarding confidence in data, the Director of Cepei focused on the recurring lack of coordination between government actors in measuring and presenting statistics to citizens, generating distrust in data. As an example, he mentioned the case of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) of Mexico, which in 2015, introduced a change, without informing the population, in the methodology for collecting data on the income reported by lower income households. This change affected INEGI´s credibility because it represented that 11 million people where out of poverty, a figure rejected by the population.
“The National Statistics Offices must be autonomous and transparent in the operations they are in charge of. This implies that both administrative and statistical decisions must be adequately informed and supported”, said the Director of Cepei.
3. Generate capacity development: Strengthen technical capacities for data collection
Confidence in data to boost the SDGs implies to strengthen and create technical capacities that respond to the demand for better data, which allow us to monitor and follow-up in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. This, however, is not reflected in the reality of statistical offices, since according to a study, carried out by PARIS21, national statistical offices with high capacity are familiar with only about 40% of the SDG indicators. The production of statistical data for more than 200 indicators places an additional burden on countries and the monitoring of the SDGs could affect national statistical systems that are already in difficulty.
To cope with this situation, Schönrock considers it is necessary to strengthen the technical capacities of all professionals of the National Statistical Offices, especially of data pollsters, to give rise to timely data collection that avoids reprocessing when carrying out the analysis; and to encourage the updating of capacities on current issues that respond to the integration of new data sources such as big data.
“There is still a deficit in the promotion of statistical strengthening programs and plans in the region, which becomes even greater when considering the insufficiently explored possibilities of establishing multi-stakeholder partnerships for data matters.”Philipp Schönrock, Cepei
4. Manage financial sustainability: Promote the mobility of domestic resources that support compliance with the SDGs
According to Schönrock, financing should focus both on providing resources for the implementation of projects and on the exchange of knowledge, methodologies and experiences for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda.
“Between 2016 and 2017, official assistance for the development of data and statistics increased by 11%, from US $ 623 million to US $ 689 million, largely driven by the adoption of the SDG monitoring framework,” said the Director of Cepei, adding that “today, only 89 national strategies for the development of statistics (NSDS), mainly in high-income countries and middle-high income countries, are fully funded”.
5. Democratization of data: Ensure that democratization includes both free access to data and the participation of all actors in its production
Democratization must be transversal to the processes of data use and production. On this respect, our Director presented 3 initiatives of Cepei that encourage free access to data, as well as the participation of diverse actors in its production.
The Data For Now initiative aims to increase the use of robust methods and tools that improve the opportunity, coverage and quality of SDG data through collaboration and partnership, technical and capacity support, and information exchange.
In 2018, within the framework of the Big Data for Sustainable Development initiative, Cepei was the technical operator of the Unidos por los ODS project, which measured the contribution of 21 companies in Colombia to the SDGs, through the data they produce in their daily activities.
Data Republica is a data laboratory for sustainable development, which maps data sources of different sectors (government, civil society, academia and private), available for the measurement of the SDGs. The public sector represents 82.9% of the analyzed sources, while the private sector only represents 1.5% of the mapped sources.
Watch the recording of the presentation by our Director (minute 52:29)
During the SCA, ECLAC conducted an interview to the Director of Cepei:
“The CEA is a platform that can connect national actors with the region, we have issues that cross borders such as climate change and epidemics, which are issues that need reliable data and statistics”.