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UNECE’s Conference of European Statisticians adopts Declaration on the role of national statistical offices in measuring SDGs

So much has been said and written about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but now it is time to act. SDGs will be adopted by the General Assembly in September 2015 and the Statistical Community is expected to start measuring SDGs as of 2016. The universal character of these 17 goals means that all countries will have to measure them and no-one should be left behind in the measurement. This is the exact moment for official statistics to offer their expertise to society: building on their code of practice for producing statistics, the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics, and on their network for international collaboration.

On 15 June 2015, the UNECE Conference of European Statisticians (CES) adopted a Declaration on the role of national statistical offices in measuring SDGs. The Chief Statisticians of the 56 UNECE countries plus Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Japan,  Republic of Korea, Mexico, Mongolia and New Zealand - meet every year at the Conference to share views on how to improve effectiveness and efficiency of statistical production and how to produce better quality statistics.

The Declaration acknowledges official statistics as a crucial element in the SDG information system and highlights the role of national statistical offices as providers of high-quality data to support informed decision-making. National statistical offices do not just produce all kinds of data. They strive for accuracy, reliability and uncompromised objectivity using the best methods, as enshrined in the Fundamental Principles.

The measurement of SDGs and the development of indicators for this purpose are widely debated at the global level. Official statisticians are actively engaged in this process. Getting the measurement of SDGs right is important. This can be done by using official statistics, produced in a professional, independent and neutral manner and free of any political or other influence – a key value added national statistical offices can bring to the global debate.  

At the same time, SDGs require more data than what is produced within the statistical systems. Therefore, national statistical offices commit to collaboration with other data producers, to work in partnership with civil society, academia and the private sector.

All this requires work and investment in statistics. As next steps the Conference decided to:

  •  Design a road map for the development of official statistics for SDG monitoring in the UNECE region. The CES Recommendations for measuring sustainable development, endorsed by the Conference in June 2013, offer a valuable basis for the road map.
  • Adjust the CES Recommedations to take into account the final SDGs, targets and indicators. This will offer all countries a useful toolkit for measuring SDGs in an internationally comparable way.