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UN and Partners Prepare for Second World Data Forum, Promote Open Data

The UN World Data Forum called for proposals around the six thematic areas of its next meeting in October 2018, including on the use of non-traditional sources of data. Other recent meetings on data considered the need to balance privacy and security concerns with openness.

The UN World Data Forum called for proposals around the six thematic areas of its second meeting, including on the use of non-traditional sources of data, and increasing data literacy among the general public. Meanwhile, the UN and partners have held several meetings that addressed open data principles and practices, and considered the need to balance privacy and security concerns with openness.

The Second UN World Data Forum will take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 22-24 October 2018, hosted by the UAE’s Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority. The WDF is organized around six themes: supporting broad data ecosystems in countries; bringing data sources together and creating an enabling environment for the integration of and use of non-traditional data sources; generating and leveraging data and statistics to ensure visibility and voice for everyone; making data and statistics relevant and usable for all, increasing data and statistical literacy and data communication, and strengthening the use of data in journalism; applying data principles and governance to new and existing data sources and implementing open data principles and practices; and implementing the Cape Town Global Action Plan that came out of the First UN World Data Forum, held in South Africa in January 2017. Session proposals relevant to these themes may be submitted by the end of January 2018.

In preparation for the Second WDF, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) co-hosted a high-level roundtable to consider the recommendations made in the report titled, ‘Counting on the World,’ which was launched by the SDSN Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (TReNDS) in September. In this report, the authors note that the SDGs are mainly quantitative goals, and monitoring progress will require access to high-quality, disaggregated, and geo-referenced data, but such data is often not readily available due to issues with quality, timeliness, human resource capacity, financing, and the lack of standardized methodologies to generate comparable findings. They call for financial investment in statistical systems, and bringing in private companies and “data innovators” from academia, civil society and multilateral institutions.

At the roundtable meeting, which convened on 25 October 2017, in Washington, DC, US, think tanks, financial institutions, multilateral agencies and civil society organizations noted that modern statistical systems enable historical measurement, facilitate effective management of issues through access to real or near-time data, and enable forecasting. Several participants emphasized the need to show that investing in data production can provide measurable returns. Participants considered possibilities for obtaining high-quality data from both public and private sources, and providing incentives for diverse actors to take part not only in producing, but also analyzing and interpreting data.

Other data-related activities also took place in preparation for key meetings. The Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Gender Statistics (IAEG-GS) held its 11th meeting in Rome, Italy, from 30-31 October. Participants discussed methodological developments in areas of gender concern in the SDGs, and aligning a ‘Minimum Set of Gender Indicators’ with the global SDG indicator framework. The 7th Global Forum on Gender Statistics will be hosted by Japan in November 2018.

An international seminar on ‘Open Data for the SDGs’ took place in preparation for the 49th session of the UN Statistical Commission, which will deliberate on the topic of open data. Hosted by the UN Statistics Division and Statistics Korea, from 25-27 September, in Seoul, the meeting addressed: open data initiatives in support of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs; the role of national statistical systems; balancing openness with risks, such as security and privacy; ensuring stakeholder involvement in open data processes; improving data sharing through interoperability; and coordinating capacity building toward open data initiatives.

Finally, the UN Inter-agency Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) called for submissions on identifying interlinkages among SDG targets and the indicators in the global SDG indicator framework. In particular, the working group is inviting all concerned to identify and share examples of integrated analyses that have been conducted at the national and international levels. Responses are invited by 19 November 2017. [Second UN World Data Forum Website] [SDSN Press Release on Report Launch] [SDSN TReNDS] [‘Counting on the World’ Report] [IAEG Gender Statistics Meeting] [International Seminar on Open Data for the SDGs] [Agenda for the International Seminar on Open Data for the SDGs] [IAEG-SDGs Interlinkages Working Group] [Interlinkages Working Group Compilation of Interlinked Statistics]