Dear friends and colleagues,

 

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of joining my fellow members of the UN Independent Expert Advisory Group to hand over our report, A world that counts, to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. On the collective journey towards realising the data revolution, the presentation was for me a personal highlight. Our group had been asked to produce a report that would define the much-talked-about “data revolution” and then examine its potential to drive forward development in very different country environments. And all this in just three months! You might well agree with the verdict of our outstanding chairman, Enrico Giovanni – “Mission Impossible”.

Well, we did it, producing a report that I think opens the door on an essential debate. Why essential? Because, the question is not what do we do if – or even when – the data revolution comes. In fact, the data revolution is already happening – right here, right now.

The recommendations of the report set a broad agenda for action, detailing roles for actors including governments, civil society, the private sector and others. Success will only be possible if we all work together in partnerships, focusing on specific topics such as standard setting, developing investment and funding options and capacity development. I was also pleased to see that the centrality of national statistical systems and in particular national statistical offices, which has been the focus of PARIS21, has taken hold. We also need an intense focus on those countries that are far from ready to join the data revolution, some of which struggle with even the basics of data collection and dissemination. PARIS21 is well placed to lead this part, starting with our Informing the Data Revolution (IDR) project, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

As you will learn in this special IDR edition of the PARIS21 Newsletter, our project is well advanced, thanks in large part to the hard work and help of our many partners. We have just finished an in-depth country analysis in Colombia, one of seven countries where we carried out special studies in recent months. These studies, combined with our broader survey of statistical systems in 27 countries, provide a wealth of information that will help to steer the debate on what needs to be done to ensure developing countries join and benefit from the data revolution. We are also working to identify bottlenecks to progress and are examining promising innovations and policy responses. All this work will feed into our “road map” report for the data revolution, which will be published in mid-2015. I invite you also to visit our IDR website, which now features two powerful new tools – the Metabase and Inventory of Innovation. Please take a look, enjoy and send us your feedback.

Looking forward, it’s now high time to move the discussion on the data revolution to the next steps: implementation, priority setting and deciding who leads on which activity. Our recently conducted survey on the future of PARIS21, indicates that many of you want the PARIS21 partnership to be more visible, take up initiatives beyond capacity development and better integrate data users. You also want us to keep our boots on the ground and do what we have been proven to be good at, namely continue supporting national statistical systems, notably through country data and NSDS work. Over the next months, and under the guidance of our Executive Committee and Task Team members, we will be developing a new strategy for the Post-2015 SDG era. Your continuous support, encouragement and advice are very much in need for a successful outcome.
 

Finally, did you know that PARIS21 is celebrating a big birthday? Yes, we’re turning 15 – and we even have the cake to prove it! It was a great joy to mark this milestone following our recent seminar in Washington, DC, in the company of Shaida Badiee of Open Data Watch and Pali Lehohla of Statistics South Africa. As you no doubt know, 15-year-olds are natural rebels, and we don’t plan to be any different. So, as we look forward to the next 15 years, we say, vive la data révolution!

Many happy returns: Cutting the cake in Washington, DC, to mark PARIS21’s 15th birthday were (from left) Pali Lehohla, Statistician-General, Statistics South Africa; Shaida Badiee, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Open Data Watch; and Johannes Jütting, Secretariat Manager, PARIS21.

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