The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) is committed to the advancement of the global statistical system. It compiles and disseminates global statistical information, develops standards and norms for statistical activities, and supports countries’ efforts to strengthen their national statistical systems. UNSD further facilitates the coordination of international statistical activities and supports the functioning of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) as the apex entity of the global statistical system.
The work of UNSD is largely guided by the deliberations of UNSC which meets annually, bringing together chief statisticians from countries of all regions and all other international and supranational statistical organisations. Within its mandate of promoting the development of national statistics and the improvement of statistics and statistical methods, UNSC regularly adopts new standards in all statistical areas.
Statistical Capacity Development Activities
UNSD assists countries in building stronger statistical systems through training, advisory services and regional and sub-regional projects aiming at strengthening capacity while promoting south-south and intra-regional cooperation. The main components of UNSD’s statistical capacity building programme are strengthening statistics via knowledge transfer and supporting good statistical governance.
In 2006, UNSD launched on its website a database of good practices in the management and development of national statistical systems. This searchable repository now displays documents on many topics of relevance for the work of statistical agencies, such as legislation, history and governance, IT systems, management and database development strategies, and dissemination policy.
UNSD provides regional and sub-regional training on concepts, methods, compilation strategies and classifications in all its fields of competence (censuses, social and demographic statistics, disability statistics, national accounts, environmental accounts, industry statistics, energy statistics, environmental statistics, trade statistics, poverty statistics, development indicators, classifications, statistical organization, and Geographic Information Systems). The training workshops are usually implemented in close cooperation with the UN Regional Commissions, other regional and sub-regional organisations, and other UN agencies.
UNSD also helps to strengthen existing sub-regional networks with multi-year and multi-domain statistical development projects, such as in the ECOWAS and SADC regions of Africa, and in the regions of South and South East Asia. In 2008, a project began to build a continent-wide African Statistical Knowledge network which tries to reach and include all African statisticians. In 2010, another global project started to improve data dissemination. In addition, UNSD offers fellowships to staff of national statistical offices for enhanced skills development and training.
UNSD’s technical advice forms an integral part of its work programme and closely relates to its work on standard setting. This ensures that UNSD advisory services are up-to-date with respect to the latest conceptual and methodological developments. UNSD publishes recommendations, guidelines, concepts and definitions, classifications and manuals in the fields of statistics for which it is responsible. These documents have become an indispensable set for the work of all national statistical offices and line ministries involved in statistics.
Since its foundation, the UN System has been collecting statistical information from member states on a variety of topics, which constitutes a considerable information asset of the organization. However, these statistical data are often stored in proprietary databases, each with unique dissemination and access policies. UNSD, therefore, developed UNdata which addresses this problem by pooling major UN databases and those of several international into one single internet environment. The innovative design allows a user to access a large number of UN databases either by browsing the data series or through a keyword search.
Last but not least, UNSD received the mandate to coordinate global monitoring towards the achievement of the MDGs. In this capacity, it coordinates the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on MDG Indicators, maintains the official UN database for the MDG indicators and assists national statistical offices in the production and dissemination of MDG and other development indicators.
Received September 2010