• English

Counting on numbers - Celebrating World Statistics Day 2015

“Better data, better lives” is the theme selected for the World Statistics Day on 20 October 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. It is a day when the international community will be celebrating Official Statistics, data that are behind an incredible amount of information we digest daily.

Figures and indicators that appear regularly in the news are available thanks to Official Statistics, be it information about global population growth, migration, ageing, labour force, inflation, or economic slowdown or recovery. We rarely think how they come about but they make our lives easier when it comes to making wise, informed decisions.

To mark the World Statistics day, UNECE calls for a celebration of the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics, followed worldwide as the guiding principles to compile reliable, comparable Official Statistics. This global standard was developed in 1991 by the UNECE Conference of European Statisticians. At that time, the pioneers decided to commit to a set of 10 principles to guide the production of Official Statistics and ensure their unique value. Two decades later, in 2014, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed these Principles at the global level recognising Official Statistics as a crucial public good that must retain its highest standards.

Along the years the steady collaboration between UNECE and its member states but also with major partners- such as Eurostat and OECD- made it possible to develop about 40 standards, recommendations and guidelines in the domain of Official Statistics.

If ensuring independence in producing official figures was a major milestone in the 90s, today the statistical challenges relate to three major areas on which UNECE has embarked with its member states:

  • The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were just agreed upon by the world leaders in September. Official statisticians must now work hard to monitor how the 17 SDGs and 169 targets change our lives. Last June the Chief Statisticians of UNECE region declared their readiness to provide leadership to the challenging task of monitoring progress towards SDGs.
  • Other important information needs are also emerging: policy makers need relevant data and information to address migration and migrants’ socio-economic conditions, how to deal with climate change, and prevent disasters.
  • Globalization is also a hot topic due to its impact on the economic activity and the society.

Statistical offices have to react to all these new challenges and do much more in terms of all the everyday statistical information we need. Often they have to do this with shrinking resources. Statisticians need to constantly renew and adapt their work to new opportunities, such as Big Data. Therefore, the official statisticians have to reinvent the way they work by modernizing their working methods and sharing more than ever before their knowledge and capabilities to find solutions together.