Geneva, 29 September - 1 October 2004
Statement by Mrs. Brigita Schmögnerová,
I would like to welcome all the international organizations and the countries that agreed to participate in this 6th meeting of the Inter-Agency Expert Group on MDG indicators. I would like to congratulate you for the excellent work you did in producing the analytical part for three Secretary General Reports on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration. I know it was hard work and I would like to take this opportunity to thank DESA and in particular UNSD for the great support that they continue to give in the coordination of this group.
The Goals addressed in the Millennium Declaration marked an historic moment for the United Nations. In addition to the common priorities unanimously expressed by 189 countries, for the first time, the UN Secretariat, its funds and programmes, the specialized agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions are focusing on a common set of specific goals. Among the various task forces and groups that were established to work toward these common goals, this group is an example of how well different international organizations can work together once we all share the same objectives. The task of this group is important for assuring that the annual SG report on the progress achieved at world and regional level toward the MDG is based on solid and relevant statistics. But the group has additional responsibilities. Many organizations at national, regional and international level increasingly rely on the deliberations of this group on issues related to quality and availability of the data, new methods and new indicators to monitor progress toward the MDG.
This meeting has a double role: First to discuss the preparation of the Secretary-General’s 2005 comprehensive report on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, its objectives and structure, and second – as an inherent part of the preparation – issues linked to MDG indicators, data availability, data quality and global and regional trends. The 2005 SG report marks an important phase in achieving 2015 MDGs, as it should indicate where governments and the international community should strengthen their efforts in order to meet their Millennium commitments by 2015 as time is running very fast.
UNECE, as one of the UN regional commissions is very pleased to host this meeting. This is the first time that all 5 regional commissions are present at this kind of meeting. We believe that regional policies have a unique role in implementing the MDG and that the monitoring of MDG at regional level is important. It allows cross-country comparisons and is helpful in formulating adequate regional policies and measuring their efficacy. In this way we can fill the existing gap between the national and the global level. This was also stressed at a recent meeting of the EC-ESA in New York where all the executive secretaries of the regional commissions, the Under-Secretary General of DESA, the Executive Directors of UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF agreed that regional commissions can substantially contribute to monitoring and analysing progress in achieving the MDGs. In UNECE we have started collaborating with the UNDP Regional Center in Bratislava in the field of statistics and indicators for the regional report that UNDP is planning for 2005 and we have begun consultations with the UNCEF regional office to coordinate our efforts in monitoring MDG in the region. I regret that I cannot welcome to the meeting our partners from UNDP Regional Center in Bratislava. I believe that we could further extend our cooperation in the preparation of a Regional Report on MDG. An excellent example of synergy of the two organizations – UNDP and UNESCAP – is the Regional Report on MDG in Asia-Pacific produced by UNESCAP in collaboration with the Regional UNDP Center in Asia-Pacific.
In addition to the partnership with UNDP Regional Center for the forthcoming MDG regional report, ECE has a longer plan in the field of MDG statistics. We are consulting with our regional partners (UNDP and UNICEF) to set up an MDG database for the region and to strengthen the statistical capacity of countries to produce MDG indicators. For the database, the idea would be to use data from national statistical offices and national MDG reports and present indicators related to MDG that could highlight some of the key issues relevant for our region on a regular basis. These are only preliminary ideas and we hope we could report more on this at the next meeting of the inter-agency expert group.
In this meeting I see two main roles of regional commissions. The first one is to bring the regional perspective in the reporting of world progress, both in terms of providing regional perspectives and making sure that regional dimensions are considered in the selection of new indicators. The Millennium Declaration and its associated goals have different implications in different regions. The global set of indicators to monitor the MDG is sometimes not relevant for some regions (and may prevent measuring progress related to MDG. I think that we need to take this into consideration when regional statistics are reported in the global SG report and make efforts to highlight key regional issues. I hope that during this meeting you could discuss how to better reflect the regional dimension in the 2005 comprehensive report.
The second role that I see for regional commissions in this group is to facilitate the relationships between specialized agencies and national statistical offices, in both directions: supporting the specialized agencies in the collection and estimation of selected regional data and, on the other hand, offering the national statistical offices a direct access to the global process. Having to deal with a smaller number of countries, regional commissions have a closer relationship with national statistical offices. In addition, they collect data on a broader range of topics. We have to take full advantage of this special link to facilitate the whole MDG reporting exercise.
In this aspect I am pleased to see that it has become a custom to invite representatives of national statistical offices to meetings of this inter-agency expert group. As everybody knows the role of national statistical offices is a key one in the provision of good quality statistics and coordination of national statistical systems and we as a group of regional and international agencies should carefully listen to their messages when it comes to the selection of indicators or the adoption of standard methods and definitions. Regional and global statistics should reflect at the extent it is possible the data that are provided by the countries’ coordinated official statistics. Any improvement in the quality and availability of statistics relevant for the MDG can only go through national statistical offices. Therefore, they should be consulted in any decision that relates to the selection of new indicators or the adoption of methods to estimate data for the global monitoring of MDG. They should also be the key players in establishing national machineries to regularly monitoring the MDG at country level. One of UNECE’s strengths is the functioning network with all national statistical offices of the 60 members of the Conference of European Statisticians.
I would like to conclude wishing you a productive three days of discussion. I would like to thank once again DESA for the preparatory work done and I look forward to hearing about the results of this meeting.