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Trust in data and statistics is paramount to the production and use of data. But the issue of trust has gained renewed impetus in the digital age, with new data sources, technologies and actors in the ever-expanding data ecosystem.

Today, trust in government is deteriorating in many OECD countries at an alarming rate. According to a 2017 OECD report, only 43% of citizens trust their government. This undermines the effectiveness of public policies.

Data actors today face many trust challenges:

  •  Official statistics are now only one of many competing sources of information, and they may not always win against more relatable, real-time data sources.
  •  Official statistics may not be appear relevant or accessible in user-friendly ways.
  •  Moreover, users may be less influenced by those datasets we perceive to be the “truest” than those which support their biases.
  •  Further, populist attacks on “experts” and “elites” are undermining trust in public institutions, and those attacks are increasingly backed by competing data, “fake news” and pseudo-science.

These trends have ushered in a new post-truth political climate characterised by amplified disinformation and biases.

Many NSSs are starting to adapt to this new context, realising data quality is necessary but not sufficient to build trust with its users. Yet for many others, especially among low-income countries with fledgling statistical systems, the path to increasing relevance and authority may not be obvious.


PARIS21 is seeking proposals for innovative projects that enhance trust in data and statistics in low and middle-income countries. The initiative will sponsor six to twelve-month projects up to 50 000 EUR each. Eligible candidates include national statistical offices (NSOs) or any private, public or civil society entity in joint partnership with a NSO. The initiatives will foster the implementation of innovative solutions across any of the statistical, structural and/or reputational aspects of trust in the national statistical system (see here for more information).

Example: A civil-society organisation and The Central Bureau of Statistics of a country are co-creating a ten-month training programme for journalists on how to use data accurately in reporting, aimed at increasing public confidence in official statistics. This directly affects trust in the statistical institution (NSO) as well as statistical products (official data) through the reputational factor of trust as per the OECD framework. They can apply to the Trust Initiative for a grant of 30 000 EUR to cover workshop costs, production of materials and workshop participation.

Deadline for proposal submission is December 31

How to apply


The proposal can be submitted by any collaboration that involves a national statistics office. Members could include social enterprises, for-profit companies, non-profit organisations, government agencies, international organisations, academic organisations, networks and consortiums. A proposal can therefore be submitted and/or led by an NSO or any other organisation as long as it partners with the NSO.

We are especially interested in proposals that bring different types of organisations together to enhance trust in official statistics.

The geographic focus on the project should be low- and middle-income countries.