New approaches needed to meet statistical demands post 2015

The importance of strong statistical systems in enabling countries to manage and monitor development was highlighted during the Forum on Advancing Statistical Development in SIDS in the Post-2015 Era at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia.

Hon. Lautafi Fipo Selafi Purcell, Samoa’s Minister for Statistics, Public Service Commission and Public Enterprises, opened the Forum, which was jointly organised by the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (Paris21), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Samoa Bureau of Statistics. Keynote addresses were given by SPC’s Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, and the Secretary-General of the Indian Ocean Commission, Mr Jean-Claude de l’Estrac.

Dr Tukuitonga said the Forum was an opportunity for SIDS to reflect on their achievements and the common challenges ahead in the post-2015 era: ‘Without statistics, it would be impossible for any of us to undertake such an assessment, or have any firm indications of what areas and sectors require further strengthening and more efforts to the ensure the long-term sustainability of what has been achieved’.

Producers and users of data, such as Samoa’s Director of Statistics, the Director of Planning from the Cook Islands, the Directors of the statistics divisions of both the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and SPC, and a senior representative of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs took part in a panel discussion moderated by Paris21 Secretariat Manager, Dr Johannes Jutting.

The panel saluted the achievements of the past decade, such as greater availability of national statistics and indicators to monitor progress and measure development results compared to when the Millennium Development Goals were introduced, and higher political awareness of the importance of evidence-informed policy development and planning. Speakers also acknowledged the call for a ‘data revolution’ by the Eminent Persons Group in their report,The Future We Want.

Dr Jutting said this meant, recognising the importance of different ways of going about ‘doing statistics’, including the need to pay greater attention to different methods of statistical collection, using non-traditional resources, and making more use of public-private partnerships, with active participation by NGOs involved in gathering statistics to inform their own activities’.

With calls for collecting new information, for example on climate change, disaster risk and NCDs, the post-2015 development agenda will place further demands on SIDS’ national statistical agencies, many of which already struggle to keep routine collections running.

Welcoming the critical bilateral and regional support provided by Australia, SPC’s Dr Gerald Haberkorn said that without continued external support most Pacific statistical agencies would find it very difficult to extend their activities to address emerging priority development issues after 2015. 

‘Looking at the impact made by global funding mechanisms, such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Malaria and TB and the Global Environment Facility, perhaps a Global Fund for Statistics might be just what is needed to effectively address upcoming challenges. Without basic data and indicators, it

will be impossible to accurately monitor progress and measure development results in these and other sectors,’ said Dr Haberkorn.

For further information, contact Dr Gerald Haberkorn (, Director of Statistics for Development, Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

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