The 2017 International Conference on Sustainable Development Goals Statistics (ICSDGS), held on 4-6 October 2017 in Manila, Philippines, focused on Level Up: Shaping a Strong Data Ecosystem for Monitoring SDGs.
As a keen supporter of strengthening national statistical systems and advocating for a greater role of National Statistical Offices in the SDGs, PARIS21 actively engaged in the various sessions and emphasised the need for a renewed business model for NSOs which give them the mandate to properly co-ordinate and lead the wider data ecosystem. It also recognised the important role of citizens in contributing to better monitoring of SDGs particularly at subnational levels where there is still a scarcity of available data for policy and planning. Further, it recommended the strengthening of data literacy of data users and the wider public in order to curb subscription to fake news and “alternative facts.” The statistics generated by the NSOs and the NSS should appeal to the “feelings of data users” and therefore should be telling stories rather than just reporting numbers. The challenge to official statistics is far greater in the era of the SDGs than in any other point in history. It is the responsibility of official statisticians, as guardians of truth and facts, to ensure that society will be able to discern the reality behind the numbers they generate and disseminate.
The ICSDGS was attended by more than 250 participants from national statistical offices of various countries, national co-ordinating/focal agencies on SDGs, international organisations and agencies, civil society organisations, private sector companies, and other stakeholders engaged, involved, and/or interested in SDG statistics. The Conference was hosted by the Philippine Statistics Authority and the United Nations Statistics Division aimed at sharing new knowledge on statistical methodologies to address data gaps; discussing ways to improve traditional data sources and explore use of new ones; identifying resources and capacity development needs and opportunities; and exploring partnerships and collaboration for the SDGs.