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UNECE statistical work highly appreciated at the UN Statistical Commission

“Accessible, timely and reliable statistics are a prerequisite for effective action on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” said Peter Thomson, the President of the United Nations General Assembly at the 48th session of the United Nations Statistical Commission. He underlined the need for sufficiently detailed data. For instance, the latest statistics show that almost 30 per cent of human trafficking victims are children, and by disaggregating these statistics, we see that girls are three times as vulnerable to human trafficking as boys. Further, we know that 5.9 million children under the age of 5 die from largely preventable causes, and with disaggregated data we learn that 45 per cent of these deaths are linked to malnutrition. Statistics also show that women spend four times as many hours on unpaid work as men.

These and many other important insights are possible thanks to relentless work to develop better and more detailed statistics nationally and internationally. The 2030 Agenda rests heavily on statisticians’ shoulders – and more needs to be done to fully capture the vulnerable population groups. UNECE has responded to this challenge by developing a regional road map on statistics for SDGs with countries’ experts and its partners Eurostat and OECD.

UNECE received global recognition for its ground breaking work in support of the 2030 Agenda at the Statistical Commission. Countries thanked the Conference of European Statisticians, hosted by UNECE, for its ability to drive work and develop guidance on emerging topics of statistics, such as the measurement of sustainable development, human capital, climate change, poverty and entrepreneurship. Many UNECE countries, the African countries, China, Japan, Mexico, Mongolia and New Zealand highlighted the global applicability of the outputs produced by the UNECE expert groups.

The 17 SDGs with 169 targets and 230 indicators will undoubtedly challenge the statistical capacity in all countries. Statisticians will need to be innovative in the way they produce statistics to take on the task. Thus, several countries praised the work of the UNECE High-level group for the Modernisation of Official Statistics and the many common tools and standards it has developed to simplify and speed up modernisation efforts.

The production of high-quality statistics on SDGs requires a strong legal and institutional framework. These frameworks are needed to ensure professional independence, impartiality and the confidentiality of data. Countries noted that the UNECE work on statistical legislation and the measurement of the value of official statistics will play a key role in transforming the national statistical systems to enable the challenging work on SDGs.

At the Commission, countries referred to UNECE’s statistical work as an excellent example of how a very small team of experts can serve the global statistical community in an effective way, be reactive and responsive to member States’ needs and create a platform for productive international collaboration. The work done by the UNECE Statistical Division has a very high return on investment and relevance not only on a regional, but also on a global scale.