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Showcasing the global relevance of UNECE statistical work for measuring SDG progress at the World Statistics Congress

How can we move forward with measuring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? This was the key topic of the World Statistics Congress, held last week in in Marrakech, Morocco, at which UNECE highlighted its broad contribution to the statistical work needed to monitor and advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development worldwide.  

In particular, UNECE showcased its support to statistical organizations through the road map for statistics on SDG delivery, together with its statistical work on climate change and modernizing statistical production.

This work was presented to an international audience of over 1,800 participants, gathering statisticians from governments, private and academic sectors. The biennial Congress is organized by the International Statistical Institute (ISI), and is by far the largest event on the global statistical calendar.

This comes at a time of evolution in the world of statistics: while national statistical organizations are required to produce a growing number of accurate and timely statistics, they are also faced with competition from alternative data sources and demands to cut costs. The modernization of the statistical process aims at improving the efficiency of statistical production, and helping statistical organisations to produce outputs that better meet user needs is essential in ensuring the quality and relevance of statistics in achieving the SDGs.

UNECE has produced a number of statistical standards and guidelines on these and other topics, which are used globally. There were many references over the course of the Congress to UNECE statistical work in presentations from representatives of national governments, on topics as diverse as measuring the value of official statistics, statistical business registers, population censuses, modernising official statistics, and measuring progress towards the SDGs.

UNECE experts gave training courses and presentations on several of these topics. A direct and immediate result was the expression of interest of various public and private organisations to work more closely with UNECE in the future. For example, the Arab Institute for Training and Research in Statistics requested greater collaboration so that they can use UNECE materials in their capacity building activities for countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

To rival the intense heat outside (up to 46 degrees!), the strong interest of countries outside the UNECE region in implementing UNECE standards and engaging with its work certainly made UNECE statistical activities a very hot topic!