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Efforts to strengthen statistical capacities

Significant efforts are required to strengthen national statistical capacities to provide the necessary data and statistics to monitor progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Funding the modernization efforts of national statistical systems is essential.


National statistical development

A national statistical plan is key to strengthening a nation's statistical system. The requirements of the MDG indicators have gone a long way towards fostering stronger national statistical plans and systems. The number of countries with a national statistical plan increased in some regions and country groups between 2010 and 2015, including the least developed countries and landlocked developing countries. However, many are still without a plan and national statistical plans need to be updated in many other countries. The overall number of small island developing States with a statistical plan actually declined from nine to seven over this period, as the time period for some existing plans expired.


Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data

The Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data provides a strategic framework calling upon Governments, policy leaders and the international community to modernize and strengthen national statistical systems, and provides a framework for the design and implementation of country-led statistical capacity-building activities necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Global Action Plan was included in the General Assembly resolution on the work of the United Nations Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


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As noted in the SDG, the Action Plan should inform discussions at the policy and decision-making levels on statistical gaps and capacity-building needs in relation to the implementation of the SDGs. The Action Plan recognizes that modernization of national statistical systems is essential to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and emphasizes the need for countries, the United Nations and all other entities to intensify support for statistical capacity-building, including improving the information technology base of statistical systems.

The High-level Group for Partnership, Cooperation and Capacity-Building is developing Notes on Implementation for the Cape Town Global Action Plan, which will serve as a practical starting point to guide implementation of programmes and activities aimed at strengthening national statistical systems and developing their capacity to respond to the data needs of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The purpose of the notes is to offer guidance for national and international initiatives aimed at addressing the objectives under the six strategic areas of the Action Plan. Country examples provide case studies to highlight activities that countries are undertaking to carry out the Cape Town Global Action Plan in their national settings. The implementation of the plan will also be reviewed at the upcoming United Nations World Data Forum 2018, being held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 22 to 24 October.



Capacity building and technical assistance

International development cooperation, including official development assistance (ODA), provides support to developing countries to enhance capacity building in data and statistics. The strengthening of statistical systems and capacities remains a challenge in many countries, as well as the financing for these efforts. The 2018 Partner Report on Support to Statistics (PRESS), produced by PARIS21, noted that countries received $623 million of support from multilateral and bilateral donors for all areas of statistics in 2016. This represents a small increase over the previous year, but remains below peak commitments earlier in the decade and well below the amounts required to implement the Cape Town Global Action Plan.

Regional efforts

ESCAP already supports member States in developing national statistical capacities within a number of regional initiatives on agricultural, economic, disaster-related, social and population, civil registration and vital statistics. 



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ESCAP through its Statistics Division and Statistical Institute for Training in Asia and the Pacific also contributes to economic statistics development in the region within a Regional Programme on Economic Statistics and its Core Set. The first Capacity Screening  was held in 2013-14 in effort to produce a baseline for capacity for producing and disseminating economic statistics in the region as part of the Regional Programme on Economic Statistics. The second round of this exercise was conducted in 2017. The results of the Capacity Screening exercise are an important input to monitoring of SDG 17, especially in terms of assessing national statistical capacity. 

As part of its efforts to develop analytical capacity in national statistical systems within the Regional Programme, ESCAP inaugurated the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Statistics Week (APES) in May 2016. During the seminar, experts from national statistical offices and central banks from 35 countries in the region discussed their challenges in producing and disseminating economic statistics, and their research efforts to improve its quality. The discussions were based on 30 national study papers produced by countries for the seminar. The seminar discussed quality issues for economics statistics in five sessions focusing on administrative data sources for economic statistics, data management and classifications, prices statistics, statistical business registers and national accounts compilation. ESCAP is supporting the development of national studies on economic statistics and related areas through a Resource Facility which will be disseminated through regular seminars such as APES.  The 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Statistics Week featured a seminar, special sessions on screening for economic statistics capacity and measuring economic loss from disasters, the sixth meeting of the Steering Group for the Regional Programme on Economic Statistics and a project support meeting. The organization of the seminar was supported by a Task Force working under the Steering Group and comprising Malaysia, India, Indonesia, New Zealand and Turkey.