UN Data Forum Handpicked Selection of Relevant Sessions

The United Nations World Data Forum 2021 (UNWDF 2021) was held from 3 to 6 October 2021 in Bern, and brought together over 700 in-person participants and more than 7,000 people joining virtually from over 100 countries around the world. Gathering stakeholders from across the world of data, the Forum highlighted the need to think about the data ecosystem more holistically.

In case you missed them, we offer you a handpicked selection of relevant sessions:

(TA5.15) Do we need a Global Data Convention to achieve sustainable development

Over the past year, the Chief Statisticians of the international statistical system have argued that there is a need for a Global Data Convention – some sort of mechanism to balance the competing needs of the private and public sectors, of the individual and society. Similar calls are emerging from the private sector and from global think tanks and academia. This session aimed to address the global issue of the commodification of data and the implications for data and statistics as a public good.

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(TA3.02) Leaving no one behind: adopting a systematic approach of using small area estimation for SDG monitoring

The Session provided a platform to share national experiences in using small area estimation methods for SDG monitoring; identify areas for further methodological development in leveraging new data sources and the needs for capacity development. The session also identified steps required to establish a sustainable small area estimation system within national statistical offices.

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(TA5.02) Are strong foundations enough? The challenges of implementing a modern statistical legal framework

This session focused on the modernization of statistical legislation in different regions of the world (Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia) and the tools adopted by countries to reduce gaps in their legal frameworks. The objective of the session is, first, to make visible these gaps, together with learning about best practices adopted by countries to reduce them. Regarding the latter, particular interest lies in the strategic interactions in the public-private sphere and with civil society organizations to promote an improvement of the statistical regulatory framework, resulting in a greater availability of quality data. It is also important to discuss how international cooperation can promote a faster pace for these improvements.

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(TA1.06) Where to start first? – Identifying the leverage points of effective capacity development

Despite joint efforts by the global community in the past, many public statistical systems continue to struggle to develop adequate capacities to cope with new and rising data demands. This session aims to define strategies that strengthen public data systems holistically, identify core statistical capabilities and recommend sustainable partnerships to foster digitalisation and innovation. In doing so, the debate reflected on the views of different data communities (NSOs/NSSs, policy makers, academia, international organisation, private sector, civil society organisations) and geographies.

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(TA3.07) Measure-Report-Act: How analysis of fiscal equity can accelerate progress towards the SDGs for the most marginalised and deprived

This session addressed issues around measurement, reporting and data use around fiscal equity. It presented methodologies and tools which are already available to measure the impact of public finance on poverty and inequality. It presented two SDG indicators which are the basis for regular reporting by national governments and international organisations, essential for accountability and transparency. And finally, it discussed how this data can be used to act on developing more equitable policies, reflecting on various examples from countries across the world.

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(TA2.14) Private Sector Innovation in a Post-Pandemic World: Integrating noncommercial data resources to support pandemic response and sustainable development

The majority-female panel aimed to achieve three main objectives: share good practices behind successful data-sharing partnerships between tech companies, UN agencies, and academic groups, drawing from 2020 COVID-19 examples; explore challenges and opportunities around data integration, federated learning (a field which evolved substantially during 2020 with COVID-19), open access vs 1:1 data sharing models, trust, and transparency; and encourage more partnerships and private sector contribution to this field by sharing examples that are scalable and demonstrate real-world impact.

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