StaTact: Data and monitoring for resilient societies

12 Jul 2018 02:00h

Event report

This side event introduced the StaTact toolkit, developed by UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the UN Statistics Division (UNSD) to assist governments in solving measurement problems related to the 2030 Agenda. Mr Nikhil Seth (Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Director of UNITAR) highlighted current gaps in the methodology and data needed to monitor sustainable development goal (SDG) indicators, which provide challenges even for advanced statistical offices. Seth explained that StaTact aims to help countries identify and respond to such measurement challenges.

Mr Stefan Schweinfest (Director of the UN Statistics Division) called for greater focus on capacity building to enhance financial, human, and institutional capacity for monitoring the SDGs. In this context, there is a need to improve the organisation and management of statistics and develop integrated national and sub-national development programmes with a strong focus on data, especially in least developed countries. StaTact provides an opportunity to support such programmes with strengthened statistical systems.

Mr Einar Bjorgo (Director, Division for Satellite Analysis and Applied Research, UNITAR) provided an overview of the development of StaTact, which was born out of a partnership between UNITAR and UNSDm and involved consultations with UN country teams and regional commissions, before going into a process of iterative design and pilots to improve its functionality. The tool takes a tactical approach to allow for quick solutions to practical measurement problems, rather than offering long-term strategic support.

Ms Elena Proden (Specialist, Strategic Implementation of the 2030 Agenda, UNITAR) elaborated on the use of the tool, which includes multistakeholder workshops that aim to develop a realistic action plan that can be implemented within 6-12 months. She highlighted that the tool is particularly useful when there is no national strategy, when there are obstacles impeding the implementation of strategies, and when current strategies need to be reviewed or redirected. In addition, the tool ensures the alignment of statistics with SDG indicators and promotes a bottom-up approach to the localisation of these indicators.

Mr Gabriel Gamez (Inter-regional Adviser at the UN Statistics Division) emphasised the value of statistics in converting raw data into information and knowledge that can be communicated to decision-makers. In this process, it is important to be agile and flexible in the design of statistical models while standardising the collection, analysis, storage, and dissemination of statistics. Noting the value of independent and objective official statistics, he explained that the UN General Assembly has put official statistics at the core of the SDG indicator framework (see A/RES/71/313). To be able to meet this challenge, national statistical offices need to modernise and strengthen their infrastructure, know-how, and management. StaTact helps statistical offices to identify quick wins that can help them move forward in their transformation.

Mr Geoffrey Greenwell (Consultant at UNITAR) explained that StaTact integrates several problem-solving tools, converging around five elements:

  • Identifying the measurement problem and business case

  • Mapping to the SDG indicators

  • Detecting data challenges and opportunities

  • Identifying institutional issues

  • Developing an action plan

Throughout the pilots, the greatest obstacles for national statistical offices seem to be related to interoperability, coordination, granularity and methodology; and solutions have been found in the establishment of coordinating groups, the exchange and access to non-traditional data, the development of new approaches, and the improvement of management support and finance.

Following the introduction of StaTact, three representatives of statistical offices shared their experience in using the tool. Mr Iwan A. Sno (Director of the General Bureau of Statistics of Suriname) explained that the tool has been useful to raise awareness and encourage action, to improve communications, and to assess gaps in statistical frameworks, although there are certain technical elements that could be improved. Mr James Muwonge (Director of Socio-Economic Surveys at the Uganda Bureau of Statistics) explained how the tool has been useful in identifying the need to harmonise different interpretations in the measurement of youth employment and develop a common definition. Mr Tchaou Meatchi (Director of Planning and Development Policies of the Ministry of Planning of Togo) presented the ways in which the tool helped to identify an action plan to address the lack of disaggregated data on undernourishment in Togo. Closing the session, Gamez expressed the hope for the tool to become ‘fully accessible and universal’.