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What data skills should universities be teaching students aspiring to make a difference in global development?

September 18, 2020

Development Counts project

Data skills are necessary for realising for the data revolution in development, as reflected in the attention devoted to activities increasing data and statistical literacy and data communication at the UN World Data Forum


Building trust with ethics of data sharing

September 14, 2020

Shimonti Paul

The world is increasingly getting driven by data. Data analysis is providing organizations with unimaginable insights, helping them to innovate, excel and grow. Be it crisis management or preparing for the future, the power of data is bringing in a new level of excellence in each aspect of our lives.


With crisis comes innovation: How COVID-19 is changing National Statistical Systems

September 14, 2020

Cameron Allen

The rapid global spread of COVID-19 has demanded that governments respond at breakneck speed to limit the human and economic costs of the crisis.And the scale of government response is unprecedented - a staggering 11 trillion USD in fiscal support provided by 55 countries in a matter of months – as is the demand for timely data to ensure that resources are targeted where they are most needed.


Without more and better funding for development data, we face a decade of inaction. How can we make each aid dollar go farther

September 9, 2020

Sasha Ramirez-Hughes

During 2020-2021, three-quarters of the world’s countries will be conducting a census. This astonishing and unprecedented data collection effort comes amidst a time of extraordinary uncertainty.The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously disrupted the ability of many countries to collect, analyze and use data and, despite the challenges that they face


Trends in national data ecosystems in times of COVID-19

July 16, 2020

Claire Melamed

Francesca Perucci

'Freedom from fear could be said to sum up the whole philosophy of human rights', said the late UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold. Right now we’re all living in uncertainty and fear of a new virus with no cure.


From COVID-19 to the data revolution: What are geospatial data partnerships organized by NSOs suggesting?

June 22, 2020

Javier Carranza

As the fierce coronavirus leaves a deadly trail behind, it also creates challenges and opportunities to innovate in official data and statistics. Integration of geospatial data with statistics can help to better understand the spatial behaviour of a global phenomenon like a pandemic. This makes it a great tool for decision making in the short term as well as for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development over the next decade.


The United Nations World Data Forum 2020 -- bringing together data producers and users in Bern

January 27, 2020

Gabriella Vukovich

With the beginning of the New Year, it is less than nine months until we gather in Bern, Switzerland for the UNWDF 2020.


UN World Data Forum reaching for new heights in Dubai

October 19, 2018

Francesca Perucci

As data leaders from around the world gather in the city of the Burj Khalifa, the UN World Data Forum itself is reaching for new heights, both in the generation of new collaborations and outcomes.


Operationalising mobile phone network data for development and humanitarian action

October 17, 2018

Syed Raza

Robert Kirkpatrick

How has mobile network data been used to inform policy? What building blocks need to be in place to leverage mobile phone network data for real-time policy analysis, decision making and impact tracking? UN Global Pulse and the Digital Impact Alliance are excited to host a joint-session at the UN World Data Forum in Dubai to explore the operational aspects of using mobile phone network data as a public good.


The power of new data sources: how to harness the private sector's role?

October 15, 2018

Pietro Bertazzi

Charlotte Portier

On the quest to establish and adapt the current data ecosystems to reflect the global sustainable development agenda and the SDGs, it has become essential to look beyond official data. The sustainability information that businesses disclose, whether on their environmental, social or financial impact, can contribute to a more complete picture of progress on the SDGs. Yet, the question remains: How can we include business data on the SDGs within the current systems that measure progress?


Data to change lives and save lives

October 12, 2018

Pierre Guillaume Wielezynski

I was hoping to have a healthy summer, but due to a move across continents and a vacation in the US sampling various IPAs and burgers, my BMI went up by a couple of points. My heart rate remains steady and my daily steps average 8k -- "not ideal", said 7 of my friends. Thanks to live data on my phone and watch, I know what I will have to work on in the weeks to come!


National data platforms for SDG reporting: Looking back and looking forward

October 10, 2018

Katarina Rebello

Yves Jaques

Since the launch of the 2030 Agenda, countries across all regions started planning for reporting data and statistics on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Governments are at different stages of this process: While some are developing their overall SDG monitoring plans and evaluating data availability, others are building national data platforms or leveraging regional data platforms. Dozens of countries have started to publish and disseminate data on the SDGs in this way - and all stakeholder communities stand to benefit from learning more about their experiences and new efforts to implement SDG reporting.


Hybrid census to generate spatially-disaggregated population estimates

October 8, 2018

Bahadur Hellali

Housing census data and up-to-date population data at subnational levels are some of the basic data needs any country should possess to ensure efficient planning and delivery of services, effective development programming, election preparation and timely response to disasters. In countries like Afghanistan, where we face challenges on different fronts, including the collection of timely data, access to recent and reliable local-level demographic data is challenging. National population data is outdated and excludes key groups. Similarly, high rates of migration and urban growth make existing population data quickly outdated.


The Inclusive Data Charter: what's it all about?

October 3, 2018

Jennie Bell

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes a commitment to 'leave no one behind'. To live up to this promise we need timely, comprehensive, disaggregated data, to better understand the situation of the poorest and most marginalised people worldwide. With robust disaggregated data, we can make better decisions that will positively affect the lives of people with disabilities.


SDG monitoring: data from civil society

October 1, 2018

Lieneke Hoeksma

Hermanus Rietveld

In March 2018, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) released its second SDG report, 'The sustainable development goals: the situation for the Netherlands', with data for 51% of the international SDG indicators, up from 33% in the first report. This leap -- from just over one third to over half of the indicators -- was the result of including data from civil society.


Suspicious minds -- trust and releasing the potential of public-private partnerships in statistical capacity development

September 27, 2018

Matthew Shearing

The debate about public-private partnerships (PPPs) in official statistics has often been focussed on how statisticians can get hold of the data they covet from the private sector. This risks not paying enough attention to other improved and new types of public-private partnerships for capacity development which could drive innovation, lower costs, leverage funding, and even produce and disseminate data.


Big Data for Sustainable Development: what does it take to get to the next level?

September 24, 2018

Dr. Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis

In today's world, livelihoods, social relations and knowledge are linked to the use of digital devices. Digital devices and applications are more and more easily accessible to millions of people that are poor and live in marginalized communities. To leave no one behind, we must use innovative ways of understanding data and how we can make the best use of it to inform, monitor and evaluate policies.


Civil Registration as a Tool for Women's Empowerment

September 12, 2018

Irina Dincu

Thando Malambo

On February 26th, the Centre of Excellence for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Systems at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and its partners hosted a high-level panel and technical consultation sessions on gender and CRVS -- Making the Invisible Visible: CRVS as a basis to meeting the 2030 Gender Agenda. The meeting was the first of its kind to focus solely on the gender dimensions of CRVS systems and the barriers women and girls face when registering vital life events.


Tell me why it matters: connecting the dots between having data and seeing impact

September 10, 2018

Emily Courey Pryor

Over the last five years, we have all worked hard to help data gain its place as a key part of the global development conversation. The UN World Data Forum is testament to this as data and statistics enthusiasts gather for the second time this October in Dubai.


"Leaving no one behind" - Beyond data disaggregation

August 31, 2018

Mamello Thinyane

Data, especially social data, play a critical role in raising awareness on the wellbeing of individuals and communities. Effectively utilized, it gives visibility to the nuanced and varied living conditions of individuals. However, one of the challenges associated with the use of data for understanding social wellbeing is that these data not only can perpetuate marginalization, but with the Data Revolution, could exacerbate it.


Catalyzing the use and impact of official statistics for sustainable development

August 27, 2018

Deirdre Appel

Tanya Sethi

The first United Nations World Data Forum launched the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development (CTGAP), an ambitious yet essential commitment to innovate and modernize national statistical systems, among other priorities. As policymakers, development partners and other data advocates prepare to gather at the second UN World Data Forum in Dubai in October, it is an opportune moment to ask how these various actors can effectively implement this Plan.


GRID3 Nigeria: Using geospatial infrastructure & population data in support of decision making and effective application of resources for development

August 27, 2018

Inuwa Ya'u

Andat Dashe Dasogot

In 2012, Nigeria accounted for over half of all polio cases in the world, even though cases had fallen by over 99% globally in the previous 30 years. For Polio to be eradicated, all children under 5 years must be reached, wherever they are, and vaccinated with vaccines offering protection against polio. To address this challenge and ensure every settlement and child is reached by vaccination teams, Nigeria introduced an innovative GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping of settlements in the 11 polio endemic States in northern Nigeria.


Weighing the quality of big data for SDG monitoring

August 6, 2018

Shyam Upadhyaya

Big data has raised big expectations among data users. Some users believe that real time data is readily available in large volumes, while official statistics are sparse and reported with a significant time lag. Against a backdrop of arguments about big data, some leaders of international development agencies see cooperation with big multinational companies engaged in information and digital technology as a much more effective and straightforward solution for SDG data collection.


Can we harness the full power of data with half the world still offline?

August 2, 2018

Nnenna Nwakanma

The new oil, the new soil, the new nuclear power. There is plenty of room for debate about the role that data plays in today's world. Whichever your favoured metaphor, it's clear that data will have a profound impact on the development of societies in the coming years. The question for us is: How do we make sure that our data future is forged not by and for the few, but by and for everyone? This must start with participation.


Producing reliable data for SDG 16: The case of conflict data

July 10, 2018

Håvard Mokleiv Nygård

Håvard Strand

In 2015, the United Nations stated unequivocally in the last progress report for the Millennium Development Goals that "conflict remains the largest obstacle to development". Yet, reducing conflict and violence in the world was never a target in and of itself under the MDGs. This changed with the inclusion of Goal 16 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. SDG 16 calls for the world to achieve peaceful societies.


How to harness private data towards meeting the SDGs? The need for data stewards

July 3, 2018

Stefaan G. Verhulst

To meet the objectives set forth in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is clear, we need not only new solutions, but also new methods for arriving at solutions.


GEO drives international cooperation on Earth data ahead of World Data Forum 2018

June 25, 2018

Steven Ramage

In 2014, the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group (IEAG) on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development defined key actions that were needed to advance a data revolution in support of sustainable development. These actions included determining how key data gaps could be filled and strengthening national statistics capabilities through new data sources and innovation. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is actively undertaking efforts in both areas.


How running away from home at 15 made me an advocate for the uncounted

June 21, 2018

Mark Hereward

I ran away from home when I was 15. When I did, I removed myself from the radar of official statistics and counting. The last thing I wanted was to be noticed, noted and counted: my aim was to be quiet, on my own, invisible. But I was lucky, when I calmed down and re-established contact with my parents, I was still in the system. When I needed medical attention—which I did—the National Health Service still had me on their files. When I wanted to re-join the schooling system—which I did—I was registered and able to access free secondary schooling and, later, a university education.


Data For All -- Building Trust in Data Platforms

June 18, 2018

Kris Oswalt

The world is going through an unparalleled transition affecting the way communities live and work together. Urbanization, Poverty, Inequality, Scarce Natural Resources, Gender, Health, Education, Climate. The issues are not new, but a challenge faced by many communities remains: How to put quality data in the hands of policymakers at the right time and in the right format to improve planning and decision making?


Making data protection work: Why we need to get paid for our data

June 11, 2018

Johannes Jütting

Does your inbox look anything like this these days: "The protection of your data is important for us"; "Updates to our terms of services"; "Important update of our privacy policy"? Why are tech giants, retailers, banks, mobile phone operators and others suddenly so interested in improving the privacy of my personal data?


A data revolution is already happening in the streets: How geospatial communities can help to promote innovations and synergies across data ecosystems

June 5, 2018

Javier Carranza

The United Nations World Data Forum is a global event, a gigantic magnet for a myriad of data experts in the development realm. Organized by the United Nations Statistics Division and hosted by the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority of the United Arab Emirates and the Government of the UAE, the 2018 Forum will take place in Dubai, 22-24 October.


#OpenDataDay for the SDGs

April 30, 2018

Richard Crespin

Two people go searching for a partner online. They come across each other's profiles. Though they come from very different backgrounds, their profiles line up with shared interests and shared values. After some back and forth by email and instant message, they agree to meet at a Waffle House.


Statisticians embrace UN World Data Forum as vital to innovation

March 14, 2018

"Stakeholder revolution" and collaboration seen as key to better data


Building Trust in Data and Statistics

January 25, 2018

Shaida Badiee

"Trust arrives walking and departs riding" -- A Dutch Proverb The UN World Data Forum 2018 promises to be an exciting event, bringing together communities of data users and producers, researchers, and policy makers. It is a unique UN-led undertaking. Over three days, from 22 to 24 October, we will all be "data people" and regarded as equals, no matter our organizational affiliation. We will all have a voice and an opportunity to share our expertise and vision for a better world served by better data.


UN World Data Forum 2018 Initiatives: Partnering towards a Global Geographic Information System for Sustainable Development

January 17, 2018

Clint Brown

The UN World Data Forum 2018, to be held in Dubai in October 2018, represents a major step in transforming our world through the dedicated work of statistical and mapping organizations in each country.


Working Together to Bring Vision into Reality

January 3, 2018

Ola Awad

The United Nations World Data Forum 2018: a major step forward in the Arab region towards peace and prosperity, “leaving no one behind.”


Improving data interoperability for the SDGs

April 20, 2017

Following an initial meeting convened last January at the margins of the first UN World Data Forum (UNWDF) in Cape Town, specialists from National Statistical Offices (NSOs), international organizations, private sector, and civil society, representing diverse perspectives, met again on 5 March 2017 in New York to discuss how to promote the use (and re-use) of available SDG-related data sets and how to make them more widely available and accessible across data ecosystems.


Looking Back and Looking Forward

January 30, 2017

Stefan Schweinfest

We did it! The first UN World Data Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, brought together an impressive group of data producers and users from the public and private sectors, policy makers, academia, and civil society representatives, to find ways in which we can, together, harness the power of data for sustainable development.


Launch of the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data

January 15, 2017

The Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data was launched at the first United Nations World Data Forum.


Making Statistics Sexy

January 11, 2017

Pim Bellinga

Thijs Gillebaart

We are I Hate Statistics, two social entrepreneurs from Amsterdam who like solving problems. We have set ourselves one goal: teaching even those people who are inclined to think they hate statistics how to understand the world through data. On January 16, we'll be sharing our experiences and vision on how to help everyone learn to love data and statistics.


7 ways mobile data is being used to change the world

January 9, 2017

Florence Broderick

Richard Benjamins

The smartphone has changed our world as we know it, with 79% of people between 18 and 44 having their devices within reach 22 hours a day. This new extension of our hands has become a "digital echo" of our real behaviour, with thousands of mobile applications accelerating our data generation and providing a wide range of companies with a scary amount of data on who we are, where we go, what we do and why we do it.


Persons with disabilities must and can be counted in

January 6, 2017

Colin Allen

Priscille Geiser

"In committing to the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Member States recognized that the dignity of the individual is fundamental and that the Agenda's Goals and targets should be met for all nations and people and for all segments of society. Furthermore, they endeavoured to reach first those who are furthest behind." -- Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016


On Wish Lists and New Year's Resolutions

January 2, 2017

Emily Garin

My favourite data story starts on a small chalkboard. Every week day, numbers were painstakingly entered into rows of boxes on its dusty black surface.


"A World That Counts" Everyone, Including Women and Girls

December 27, 2016

Emily Courey Pryor

We measure what we value and value what we measure. This is a core tenet of data collection; but what does it mean for women and girls?


Harnessing census data collection with citizen participation in SDGs

December 19, 2016

Javier Carranza Torres

In the spirit of the 2030 Agenda, a great diversity of stakeholders needs to be summoned to make available inclusive, disaggregated and valuable data for the SDG. Although the core of the efforts for this agenda are led by National Statistics Offices (NSOs), official statisticians need to give a more serious consideration to all the qualitative initiatives coming from civil society to aid in the endeavor of producing data to follow-up and review progress towards achieving the SDGs. In fact, a wider data ecosystem is greatly needed to start a real data revolution.


Why a World Data Forum?

December 12, 2016

Claire Melamed

My first experience of data collection was running a survey in a small, isolated village in Northern Mozambique in the late 1990s as part of my academic research. I collected and analysed the data, and when I had finished with it, I put the 400 or so paper surveys in boxes (which I still have!) and put them in a cupboard. That was fairly typical for the times -- a world where the collectors and users of data were the same, and where data sharing and re-use were the exception, not the rule.


An opportunity for developing countries in SDG implementation

December 5, 2016

Hernán Muñoz

At the conclusion of the first UN World Data Forum in Cape Town next month, the High-level Group for partnership, coordination and capacity-building for statistics for the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development (HLG) is planning to present a Global Action Plan for Data which highlights, among other challenges, that "Effective planning, follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires the collection, processing, analysis and dissemination of an unprecedented amount of data and statistics at local, national, regional and global levels and by multiple stakeholders."


Connecting data communities

November 29, 2016

Irena Križman

It is more than one year since the visionary Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed to by 193 Member States of the United Nations. The broader data community has already responded with a large number of initiatives, but a lot still has to be done to fulfil the data requirements of the 2030 Agenda. As written in the 2016 Sustainable Development Goals Report, "the data requirements for the global indicators are almost as unprecedented as the SDGs themselves, and constitute a tremendous challenge to all countries.


Reflections on the UN World Data Forum

November 22, 2016

Niels Ploug

As the weather is getting bad and the dark is getting even darker -it is winter in the North- we are working even harder on our part of the program for the UN World Data Forum. We will be there to exchange with old and new friends our experiences on how to use data from administrative sources to produce official statistics in an efficient and cost-effective way and, more importantly, to ensure that No One is Left Behind.


The need for Open and Accessible data

November 17, 2016

Sanjay Kumar

­Data and Information are the key to the 'digital age' we live in today. Availability, Accessibility, and Utility of information are both testimonials and benchmark of human development of societies and nations in terms of societal engagement, inclusive policies, citizen empowerment, and economic advancement. 'Knowledge Economy' and 'Digital World' are now the determining axes around which civilizations and nations revolve and evolve. Scientific and technological infrastructure, which enables innovation and creates knowledge entrepreneurs and professionals, is the bedrock of progressive societies.


Should 'data literacy' be promoted?

November 7, 2016

Emmanuel Letouzé

This post is the first of two parts, and builds on the White Paper "Beyond Data Literacy: Reinventing Community Engagement and Empowerment in the Age of Data" published on September 2015. Part 2 will discuss guiding principles and priority actions to promote data literacy as literacy in the age of data.


Capacity Building, Yes -- But How To Do It?

November 1, 2016

Johannes Jütting

These days, keynote addresses on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) often end with the call to strengthen the capacity of national data ecosystem actors, in particular those within National Statistical Offices. This is an important message. But how can we do it? Is there eventually a need to profoundly change the way in which we approach capacity?


Counting people to make people count

October 25, 2016

Harpinder Collacott

"Data are the lifeblood of decision-making and the raw material for accountability."


Interview with Pali Lehohla

October 17, 2016

Pali Lehohla

What do you expect from the first-ever United Nations World Data Forum? What outcomes would you like to see?


A crucial opportunity

September 29, 2016

Stefan Schweinfest

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted one year ago by world leaders as part of the 2030 Agenda, are unprecedented in their scope and vision of a better future for people and the planet.


First-Ever UN World Data Forum

September 29, 2016

The first UN World Data Forum will be hosted by Statistics South Africa from 15 to 18 January 2017, with support from the Statistics Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, under the guidance of the United Nations Statistical Commission and the High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for Statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.