Statistics form the basis of our knowledge about societies and guide decision-makers from socio-economic to environmental issues. In 2011, the Busan Action Plan for Statistics (BAPS) projected statistics to the forefront of democratic governance mechanisms. The UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda has now called for a “data revolution” and placed a high priority on measuring progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and building the Post-2015 measurement framework.
Technological and political changes in recent years have also altered the statistical landscape. Increased demand for data, specific needs of fragile states, and the growing need for regional and sectoral strategies, for instance, require special consideration. They also reinforce the need to share good practices between countries. Technology has evolved, offering the possibility to create and share knowledge in a dynamic way that allows for real-time evolution of tools like the NSDS Guidelines, as new information becomes available.
To adapt to this new context, PARIS21 decided to update its guidelines for National Strategies for the Development of Statistics (NSDS). First adopted in 2004, these guidelines offer a strategic framework for medium- to long-term planning in statistical activities, that can help countries respond to the statistical needs of their national development plans. A Task Team was created to carry out the update, comprising the following members: Eric Rancourt, Statistics Canada, Task Team Chair; Kim Bradford-Smith, Department for International Development (DFID); Nancy Chin, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO); Thomas Danielewitz, World Bank (WB); Jean-François Divay, France; Asad Elahi, Pakistan; Susana Martins, Eurostat; Yakob Mudesir, Ethiopia; Armida San José, International Monetary Fund (IMF); Edwin St-Catherine, St-Lucia. Their colleagues also provided valuable input, in particular Statistics Canada/Danielle Beaudouin; World Bank/Amparo Ballivian; IMF/Wipada Soonthornsima, Marc Prudhomme, Michael Andrews.
The fruits of the Task Team’s labour were reviewed and approved via the following procedure. First, the PARIS21 Executive Committee developed and approved the structure of the new NSDS Guidelines. Second, it was presented and approved at the 2012 Annual Board meeting, which also featured a seminar on good practices that was held to create an impetus to provide the Secretariat with examples that could be linked to the Guidelines. In 2013, progress was again presented to the PARIS21 Executive Committee and approval was given to complete the work. With the help of the Task Team, the PARIS21 Secretariat produced a new draft version of the Guidelines that was subsequently reviewed by a panel of international experts: Gérard Chenais; Lamine Diop; Ben Kiregyera; and Jean Le Nay.
The new NSDS Guidelines reflect several innovations that should broaden their scope and usefulness, including:
- A dedicated website that allows for the collection of suggestions and examples of good practices on an on-going basis and includes links to documents produced by national statistical offices and international organisations.
- Translation into French, and plans are in place for translation into Spanish
- Restructuring into steps that are required when designing an NSDS (sequenced steps) and those that are also part of the regular statistical activities of a country (permanent steps) which supports the Guidelines dual nature as both a process and a product.
- Specific sections on key areas, such as implementation, fragile and small states, sectoral statistics, infra-national strategies, regional strategies, gender statistics and open data.
Producing the new Guidelines is a great achievement that could not have happened without the help of many. We would like to thank a number of people who contributed to this process starting with Anna Sarotte at the PARIS21 Secretariat who took this file and brought it to fruition. Her contribution was immense and her focused and dedicated work ensured the success of this project. Thanks also go to her predecessor, Christophe Duhamel who gave the initial push and to Abadila Berrou, former Secretariat Manager of PARIS21, who established the Task Team. The help of Karim Bouchekoura, a PARIS21 consultant on technical aspects of the website must also be acknowledged. We are grateful to all those who wrote parts of the guidelines, who provided inputs, tables and graphs and who helped with the editorial process. We would also like to thank all the members of the Task Team for their time, comments and suggestions and their organisations for the generous support in making their commitment possible. We are indebted to the experts who provided a piece of their wisdom to ensure that the Guidelines are strong, relevant and consistent with historical practices and current action in countries. Finally, our thanks also go to Shaida Badiee and the PARIS21 Executive Committee for their strong support in the whole process and to Eurostat for partly funding this project.
Eric Rancourt and Johannes Jütting