The inaugural United Nations World Data Forum held here this week has drawn up a Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data for better data to improve people’s lives, and new ideas and solutions to boost collaboration, resources and policies needed to put it into action.

The Global Action Plan, which will be adopted by countries at the UN Statistical Commission to be held in March this year, was prepared with inputs from the global statistical community and data experts from a wider range of stakeholders at the forum which ended on Wednesday.

The UN World Data Forum is the perfect place to launch the Action Plan and get all the major players behind it, UN Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo told a media conferencehere Thursday.

“To implement the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and build a better future for people everywhere, it is essential to have accurate, reliable, timely and disaggregated data.”

The plan, which sets out a global vision and a to do list for better data, calls for a commitment by governments, policy leaders and the international community to undertake key actions in six strategic areas, including innovation and modernisation of national statistical systems, dissemination of data on sustainable development, building partnerships and mobilising resources.

Currently there are large data gaps that hinder policy makers from making informed decisions and more than 100 countries do not keep accurate birth and death records, and only 41 per cent of countries regularly produce data on violence against women.

The unprecedented scope of the UN 2030 Agenda, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has magnified the challenge to track progress and inform policies.

We cannot achieve what we cannot measure, said Pali Lehohla, South Africa’s Statistician-General and head of Statistics South Africa.


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