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UN forum in Bangkok calls for joint action to improve statistics for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

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Asia-Pacific policymakers and statisticians convened at a United Nations conference in Bangkok this week to improve statistics for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires governments to develop statistics that can support integrated planning and analysis across economic, social and environmental development pillars. Meeting this new challenge requires transformative change in national statistical systems – the region’s traditional producers of official statistics.

In response, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in partnership with the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) organized a three-day conference from 24 to 26 August, to outline the region’s aspirations in a collective vision and framework for action aimed at advancing official statistics for the 2030 Agenda.

“Reliable, timely, accurate and disaggregated data and statistics are essential to track and monitor the progress of all population groups in their progress towards achievement of SDGs and to ensure that no one is left behind,” stressed United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar.

“With its convening power to bring countries together, ESCAP will continue to engage a wide range of partners to support governments and other key players to scale-up innovations and tools to transform statistics and meet the data needs of Asia and the Pacific,” she added.

Mr. Ivo Havinga, Chief of the Economic Statistics Branch at UNSD, underscored that this is an opportune time to develop a new regional framework as the statistical communities currently have the world’s attention

“Measuring and communicating the value of statistics is crucial for monitoring the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and strengthening high-level political commitment to the modernization and transformation of official statistics,” he said.

At the closing, Ms. Aisath Shahuda, Chief Statistician of Maldives and Chair of the ESCAP Committee on Statistics, acknowledged participants for sharing both their successes and failures that led to proposals for concrete actions, highlighting the importance of inter-country collaboration to implement the collective vision and plan of action for Agenda 2030.

“The discussion we had during this conference given us the insights, and will now guide us on the next step to materialize our collective vision of better statistics for SDGs implementation,” she said.

The outcome of the ‘Asia-Pacific Conference: Transforming Official Statistics for Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ be further consulted on in the region over the coming months, and is expected to be adopted by the ESCAP Committee of Statistics in December 2016.