Today is World Statistics Day with the theme ‘Connecting the world with data we can trust’. We embrace this opportunity to take pause and consider what that means for Asia and the Pacific.
Our region is home to 4.6 billion people – 60% of the global population. ESCAP’s 62 member and associate members include some of the poorest countries in the world. Countries with the very largest populations and the smallest.
The Asia-Pacific region remains the global economic powerhouse yet struggles to turn economic growth into equal opportunities and universal wealth, advance responsible consumption and production, and act on the climate the Asia and the Pacific SDG progress Report found. Still there is cause for optimism. Our diverse region has shown remarkable resilience. Accelerated progress in key ‘transformative entry points’ has been seen in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. Investment in quality education is strengthening human capital across the region and we are making rapid progress towards some Sustainable Development Goals such as affordable clean energy.
World Statistics Day 2020
The Asia-Pacific community of statisticians and the users of official statistics are at the centre of these reflections. The data and statistics we produce can show where progress is being made and point to where we must do better. As we grapple with the challenges ahead and overcoming the massive setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must continue to provide relevant, reliable, and timely statistics that will support our nations and region to prosper.
One that, today especially, we must pause to celebrate and seek to strengthen.”
It has been our privilege to be involved in regional work on statistics in recent years. There have been many achievements, thanks to the investment and hard work of professionals and partners across our statistical systems and in regional and international organizations. The connections between us have been forged over decades. Despite the physical distances between us, emphasised by the COVID-19 travel restrictions, our community is growing wider and more connected.
One of the reasons for our strength as a community are the regional initiatives that support us to work together. A shining example is the Regional Programme on Economic Statistics. Thanks to financial support of the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (previously Department for International Development), this programme has afforded us many opportunities to build connections across the region. It has enabled projects to improve economic statistics production in eight countries and supported regional events - the catalyst for building trust and improving how we work to produce statistics. These are long lasting achievements that will provide data our users can trust well into the future.
The Regional Programme on Economic Statistics has supported:
- Statistical Business Registers in Myanmar and Viet Nam
- National accounts and new GDP figures in Cambodia
- New price indices and harmonized classifications in Bhutan
- Tourism satellite accounts in the Maldives
- New statistics law and the first economic census of Laos PDR
- Reviews and recommendations for stronger national statistical systems in the Maldives and Sri Lanka
- Energy balances and strategy setting for economic statistics in Viet Nam
- Sustainable, national training programmes on economic statistics in Nepal
Regional activities have been an important part of this initiative. Meeting places for our community to exchange ideas and contribute to professional standards in our field. Asia-Pacific Statistics Week in 2020 brought almost 900 participants (55% women) from 63 countries and territories together online to share and discuss topics including how to engage with users and assure quality and trust in statistics. Whether we are meeting in Bangkok or virtually online these meeting places are such valuable opportunities for exchange. They allow ideas, methods, and tools to come to light to inspire new approaches and improvements in data quality in our own countries.
Personally, seeing the Regional Programme on Economic Statistics rolled out, and achieving what it has, have been gratifying to us. It is not often we get sustained funding to work with countries to improve data quality through technical projects. This regional programme has enabled us to engage international experts and bring their knowledge to smaller, less resources statistical systems. It has facilitated South-South cooperation and building stronger connections within and between national statistical systems.
We acknowledge and thank the government of the United Kingdom and the many people who have contributed to this regional initiative and its achievements. As the sun sets on World Statistics Day, we should reflect on just how valuable the chance to work together is. Despite the differences and distances between us, the Asia-Pacific region is united under a common vision for development, a vision for how statistics will support that, and a vibrant and connected community that are working together to provide data we can trust.