World Data Forum opens in Cape Town

The Opening Ceremony of the World Data Forum took place on Sunday 15 January 2017 at the Cape Town International Conference Centre, against the backdrop of the iconic Table Mountain. Speakers included the Hon Jeff Radebe, South African Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and chairperson of the National Planning Commission of South Africa; Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs; Stefan Schweinfest, Director UN Statistics Division; and Dr Pali Lehohla, Statistician-General for South Africa. Called for in the report of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, A World that Counts, the forum is one of many steps being taken by the statistics and data community to rise to the challenge of putting systems in place to gather and analyse the data needed to inform of the 169 targets and 230 indicators for the 17 SDGs of the 2030 Agenda.

Mr Wu in his address referred to the capacity of the UN to use its convening power to bring people together to work on global solutions, noting that more than 1,000 delegates were participating in the forum. According to Mr Radebe, the Agenda 2063, The Africa We Want, and Vision 2030, South Africa’s National Development Plan are both aligned with the SDGs. Data should be freely available and accessible by all and people who are served by the data should become more than another number in a statistical report, being empowered to use the data to improve their lives.

The UN World Data Forum is the first of a new process of continuous collaboration that will take place every two years under the guidance of the UN Statistics Division. Work will continue to take advantage of the new initiatives and partnerships and to harness the potential of innovation and technology.

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