A measure of PARIS21’s resounding success over recent years is the now-universal recognition that statistics do not simply play a key role in decision making but are actually a sine qua non condition for the democratic governance of society. As an example, recent financial, environmental, and food crises have eliminated any doubt of the crucial contribution statistics make to national, regional, and international policy making and monitoring of progress.
Over the past decade, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been instrumental in raising the profile of statistics and in mobilising technical and financial resources for data collection. However, while there is evidence that MDG monitoring requirements and development co-operation have driven an increase in the number and type of surveys conducted at the country level, the data produced have not been sufficiently utilised, leading to misgivings on the reliability and relevance of MDG data.
One reason for these mixed results was identified by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on MDG Indicators (IAEG-MDG): an inadequate consultation with developing country statisticians in the selection of indicators to measure progress toward the goals. The IAEG-MDG concluded that, had statisticians been properly involved, conflicts and inconsistencies between national and international data systems on MDG monitoring could have been prevented.
What does this mean for the post-2015 framework? Quite a bit, we hope.
In their report to the UN Secretary-General, the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda called for a “data revolution” whose objectives will be to “fully integrate statistics into decision making, promote open access to, and use of, data and ensure increased support for statistical systems.” These objectives are directly quoted from our own Busan Action Plan for Statistics, for which PARIS21 has been mandated as Secretariat.
PARIS21 will therefore have an important role to play in the post–2015 framework. In fact, at its April 2013 meeting, the PARIS21 Board established a post–2015 advisory group whose objectives are to:
i. act as and deploy high-level champions to amplify the voices of PARIS21’s diverse and inclusive partnership to advocate for statistical capacity development in the UN discussions and other high-level fora on a new framework;
ii. work towards establishing a baseline in statistical capacity development, identify problem areas, and suggest areas for additional research or analysis to resolve issues; and
iii. provide tactical advice on how to maximise the impact of the PARIS21 partnership and Secretariat via co-ordination of speaking interventions, the production of room documents, text for communiqués, outcome documents, etc.
The group held its first meeting in June and identified a number of priority actions to take forward. The most pressing will be the organisation of a side event in the margins of the upcoming UN General Assembly in September 2013. PARIS21 intends to convene a meeting on “Engineering the Data Revolution” which will debate the role of statistics in the post-2015 framework and how to make the revolution and the global partnership a reality.
This call to statistical arms is directed at all of you, the PARIS21 partners. Poet Gil Scott-Heron prophesied that the “revolution will not be televised.” Together, perhaps we can prove him wrong.