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Inaugural UN World Data Forum aims to advance innovative solutions on better data for sustainable development

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From: 15/01/2017
To: 18/01/2017
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

The United Nations World Data Forum, taking place from January 15-18, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa, will spur the exchange of innovative ideas and data solutions through a range of keynote statements, presentations, panel discussions, knowledge sharing and learning spaces, innovation labs, exhibits and digital events.

Over 1,000 data experts including from national statistical offices, the private sector, international organizations, the scientific and academic communities, and civil society organizations, as well as political leaders and sustainable development advocates are expected to attend.

The African Development Bank is an organizing partner and is represented by a delegation led by its Director of Statistics, Charles Leyeka Lufumpa. The AfDB’s statistical capacity building activities span all African countries, sub-regional organizations and statistical training centres in Africa. The Bank has played a key role in improving the quality of data on the continent, and has emerged as one of the leading international institutions for promoting statistical development across Africa.

At the forum, the Bank’s delegation is participating in sessions on Big Data innovations and opportunities, and will discuss the future of data production with a specific focus on the exploration of new data frontiers and the identification of new data sources. The delegation will contribute to open discussions on the approaches to be implemented to unpack the Data Revolution at the country level through enhanced national data strategies and scaled up capacity development.

A Data Revolution will require the modernization of institutions, governance and business processes; engaging with local governments and communities to achieve development goals; and developing public private partnerships on data.

Key challenges to be addressed during the first World Data Forum include:

  • Launching new approaches to strengthen capacity for better data, and discussing how national statistical systems in the Bank’s regional member countries should adapt to and develop within a changing environment, in order to achieve the full implementation of the 2030 and 2063 Agendas;
  • Leveraging the complementarity between Big Data and conventional data;
  • Spurring innovation and synergies across data ecosystems, building bridges between official statistical systems, the private sector, and the geo-spatial information and scientific communities;
  • Counting minorities and vulnerable groups to “leave no one behind” and ensure the protection of human rights;
  • Understanding the world through data, including data literacy, data visualization and data journalism;
  • Developing sound data principles, standards and governance mechanisms to address trade-offs and incentives around openness and transparency, privacy and confidentiality, data-sharing, etc.;
  • The way forward: a global action plan for data based on global, regional and national partnerships; consolidating initiatives launched and solutions proposed to improve data for sustainable development. This action plan will highlight that effective planning, follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires the collection, processing, analysis and dissemination of an unprecedented amount of data and statistics at local, national, regional and global levels and by multiple stakeholders.

The rationale for the conference underscores the importance of good data for development. Without good data, development cannot be measured, nor can goals be attained. Improved use of data and statistics will be crucial to achieving the transformational vision of a better future for people and the planet, set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed by world leaders at the UN in September 2015. Better data is needed to track progress and inform policy decisions from the local to the global levels. Rapid expansion in new sources of data is creating large-scale opportunities for innovative solutions, which need to be integrated with strengthened official data mechanisms and structures.

For more information on the UN World Data Forum, visit:

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