On 15 November 2007 in Paris, the World Bank and PARIS21 co-organised a meeting which aimed to reach agreement on concrete, country-based steps to scale-up support for developing countries’ efforts to improve their national statistical systems.

There is a clear consensus on the importance of reliable national statistics to support results-based development processes. Countries require such information to formulate appropriate policies, to target scarce resources, to use aid effectively, and to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of their development efforts. However, despite donor and government efforts to strengthen country data collection and analysis, in too many countries statistical systems are weak, the data they yield are of poor quality, and the sound and sustainable national statistical systems needed to underpin development processes have not yet been established.

Greater attention to the value of a broader, more systematic, approach to achieving progress on this front is needed, as many in the development community increasingly recognise. At its Spring 2006 meeting, the Development Committee urged all MDBs and all donors to strengthen support for improving statistical systems and related institutional capacity in partner countries. At the Third International Roundtable on Managing for Development Results in February 2007, developing countries called for donor support for implementing their National Strategies for the Development of Statistics (NSDSs), which many countries have now produced following recommendations at the 2004 Second Roundtable in Marrakech.

In response to these calls, the World Bank convened a meeting in April 2007, at which a group of donors and countries agreed on mechanisms to build support for an increased, co-ordinated effort to strengthen statistical capacity in developing countries, and some donors committed to enhancing their support for this effort. Subsequently, PARIS21 and the World Bank prepared a note outlining how donor and government efforts at the country level could be better managed to produce improved statistical systems.

Since then, PARIS21 and the World Bank have been working with some donors to identify environments in which a scaled-up effort is likely have the greatest chance for impact and results. A co-ordinated donor effort to support NSDSs is likely to work best where strategies are well-designed and have strong government backing; it will not work — or at least will not yield significant results — in all countries. The next step in this process is to identify where the approach will work well, and where donors are prepared to provide support. There is also a need to broaden and deepen the partnership to include more donors, and to ensure that country-level efforts are consistent with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

The intent of the November 15 meeting in Paris was therefore to agree on concrete steps forward, including on the countries in which donors are prepared to take a lead or co-operate with other donors.

PARIS21 will also work with countries to facilitate in-country stakeholder meetings (including of data users, producers, and potential financiers and donors), as recommended in NSDSs.

A Brief History of Contributory Events Leading Up to the System-Wide Approach to Statistical Capacity Building
List of Participants - Scaling Up Investment in National Statistical Systems Meeting