Driving the data revolution

Published: Fri 27 Mar 2015 03:37 PM
Driving the data revolution: Asia-Pacific forges agreements to improve statistics
United Nations committee on Statistics meets to build regional frameworks for better data
Bangkok  (ESCAP  News) -- Between 2001 and 2011, over 450 million people in
the Asia-Pacific region were brought out of poverty, but 772 million people
still  live  on  less  than  $1.25 a day. The number of women in the region
dying  because  of  pregnancy  has about halved since 2000, while disasters
over the past five years have cost the region $501 billion. Statistics like
these  reveal the social, economic and environmental situation that we live
in,  and  allow  us to accurately know where we have made progress - and to
understand where progress still needs to be made.
The fourth session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for
Asia  and  the  Pacific  (ESCAP)  Committee  on Statistics opened this week
advocating  that such precise, representative and timely information serves
as  a  basis to help countries achieve and measure their development goals.
However, many Asia and Pacific countries still lack the capacity to produce
the  figures  needed.  Some  face significant challenges producing even the
most basic statistics, such as population counts or GDP.
Dr.  Anis  Chowdhury,  Director of the ESCAP Statistics Division opened the
committee  saying,  “The  world is awash with data and yet we lack credible
information  about  the  poorest  and most marginalized communities. A data
revolution has been called for – to make data work more directly in support
of development and to leave no one behind. The goals and targets of the new
development  agenda  will  not  be  realized  without quality statistics to
provide  insight  about  the  most  disadvantaged, vulnerable people in our
To  illustrate  the  problem  further,  even  if countries produce official
statistics    they    may    be    of    an    uncertain    quality,    not
internationally-comparable,  or  delayed  so  much  that  they  lose  their
relevance. This hampers the ability of governments to make policy decisions
that  effectively  respond  to the needs of their population or efficiently
direct limited resources.
Regional  Commissions  will  play  an  important role in the monitoring and
implementation of the post-2015 development agenda which requires effective
and  robust  national  statistical  systems to track progress.  This week’s
session  brings together chief statisticians from countries across the Asia
and  Pacific  region to agree on priorities for statistical development and
reach  consensus  on areas where cooperation can best add value to national
and  international  efforts.  It  will  also  look to shape a framework for
measuring  and  monitoring  capacity  development  of  national statistical
At  this session, Governments are expected to agree on a core set of gender
statistics  for  the  region,  coinciding  with the 20th anniversary of the
Beijing  Declaration  and Platform for Action. Governments will also decide
on  regional  approaches  to  improving  population,  social,  disaster and
environment  statistics  alongside  realizing  the ‘data revolution.’ These
initiatives  build  on other collaborative work instigated by the Committee
on  Statistics  in  economic  statistics, agricultural statistics and civil
registration and vital statistics.

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