Dear colleagues and friends,

Are we all becoming “revolutionaries”? One could think so as we see the blossoming of activities around the “data revolution” and the establishment of a Global Partnership on Development. Mentioned for the first time in the High Level Panel Report, the “data revolution” has led to a splash of initiatives, conferences, blogs… you name it. How should we approach all this? What part do we play?

To start with, we shouldn’t be washing away all established structures and approaches that helped us to make some good progress over the last decade. This was at least a common view expressed at the event “Post 2015 Development Data Revolution” at the 68th United Nations General Assembly. More and better data is needed for sure and nobody would object. However, the way we produce the data is contentious. Some argue for increasing the number of global surveys, others like us strengthen the role of national country systems. This was clearly brought to the fore in Maputo, Mozambique, at our event with the South African Development Community. Here we discussed with users and producers the role that African NSS representatives can play in this process. Then this past month in Manila, Philippines, I had the opportunity to present on the potential and risks of big data for development as well as on inclusive growth – the data revolution encourages us to focus on the potential of innovation to better ensure we leave no one behind. Finally, our recent workshop in Brussels at European Development Days looked at a series of good practices in areas of co-ordination, harnessing innovation, and using data to support accountability, all important issues to inform the “data revolution”. These events all share a common purpose: positioning PARIS21 in the debate and leveraging our lessons learnt over the last 15 years.

One of our major work streams – the National Strategies for the Development of Statistics – are in particular well placed to be shared with the other revolutionaries. When we first launched the NSDS guidelines in 2004, we envisioned them as a means to assist countries in responding to the statistical needs of their national development plans. Eight years later, we are proud to be launching an updated version of these guidelines. This new version includes a dedicated website in both English and French that will allow for the collection of good practices and examples provided by NSOs and other organizations, a structure that positions the guidelines as both a product and a process, and a series of sections on specific issues such as open data, or small and fragile states. You can learn more about our new guidelines in the lead story of this newsletter. We look forward to feedback and suggestions from you and all of our partners as we refine these guidelines; visit our new NSDS guidelines website to leave your thoughts and suggestions.

Amid such progress and positivity, it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to a member of the PARIS21 family. Mr. Abdul Rahman Ghafoori, a member of the PARIS21 Executive Committee and important figure in the world of statistics, has passed away. Mr. Ghafoori was president of Afghanistan’s Central Statistics Organisation and Secretary of the National Statistics Committee, and an active member of PARIS21 processes, having participated in discussions on statistical capacity building in fragile states and assisting the Partnership to agree on the Busan Action Plan for Statistics. He will be missed by his colleagues, though his contributions to our work will continue to be felt.

It's times like this that we remember that we're all in this together. Pali Lehola at our New York event asked for “statisticians to unite.” PARIS21 is well-positioned to bring together and leverage the voices of statisticians in developing countries, bringing in new ideas and partners. This makes it a natural leader in the discussion of a new Global Development Data Partnership.

With that in mind, I hope you enjoy this issue of our newsletter. Please share any feedback, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact[at]paris21.org

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