Beirut, 10 February 2021 (ESCWA)--The COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives and affect various economic and social sectors, placing data and statistics among the top needs and concerns of public opinion, Governments and international organizations alike. To address those issues and more, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) opened today the 14th session of its Statistical Committee virtually, with the wide participation of the national statistical offices of Arab countries, and regional and international organizations working in the field of statistics.
Adel Khadada, Acting Director General of the Central Statistical Bureau in Kuwait, which had chaired the 13th session of the Statistical Committee, reiterated the call for national statistical offices to continuously modernize national statistical systems and improve timeliness and quality of official data in order to meet the increasing demand on data and statistics.
Khadada also stressed the need to bolster partnerships between users and producers of data and statistical information, in order to support development in its economic, social and environmental dimensions at the national and regional levels, and to monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and indicators.
Representing Lebanon, Chair of the Committee’s 14th session, Maral Tutelian, General Director of Lebanon’s Central Administration of Statistics (CAS), pointed out that, “despite the difficult times the country is going through, CAS continues to modernize its statistical processes and information technology infrastructure to provide the accurate and necessary evidence for policymakers.” She highlighted a pilot project implemented in partnership with ESCWA on use of big data to address pressing problems at the local level stemming from the refugee and COVID-19 crises.
Tutelian also emphasized that cooperation between institutions within a country was a prerequisite to improve administrative data and enhance its use, at a time when the need to reduce reliance on field surveys had become more pressing.
Delivering the statement of ESCWA, Juraj Riecan, Director of the Statistics, Information Society and Technology Cluster, pointed out the extraordinary circumstances under which the current session was being held—not only those created by the pandemic and crises in the region, but also the data and digital revolutions, and how they were fundamentally changing the nature of both producers and users of data.
“In view of these evolutions, we must turn to the values that characterize official statistics: professionalism, integrity, and service, and commitment to producing relevant and quality data, and to disseminating them in a timely manner in support of decision-making by all, from policymakers to citizens,” Riecan added.
Participants in the session will discuss statistical activities in Arab countries and the role of ESCWA in supporting them, in addition to the priorities of statistical work in the region for the coming years, in the era of the data revolution. They will also tackle challenges in monitoring progress towards the SDGs and review a guide prepared by ESCWA for a generic law on official statistics for Arab States.
Moreover, the Statistical Committee will hold a joint seminar with the ESCWA Committee on Technology for Development on local applications of big data for effective decision-making in times of crises, such as the COVID-19 and refugee crises.
One of five United Nations regional commissions, ESCWA supports inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in Arab States, and works on enhancing regional integration.
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