Asian and Pacific Statistics Leaders Agree on Strategy to Develop National Statistical Capacities

The top statisticians of Asia and the Pacific agreed on a strategic plan to develop national capacities in the region by 2020 to generate a basic range of population, economic, social and environment statistics.

The second session of the Committee on Statistics of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) was held from 15 to 17 December at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok to discuss the capacity building strategy as well as other priorities of statistics development in Asia an the Pacific.

Inaugurating the Session, H.E. Mr Chuti Krairiksh, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Royal Thai Government, welcomed the Committee’s strategic focus on “capacity-building for national statistical offices (NSOs) in our region to produce, disseminate and analyze data in accordance with internationally agreed standards and good practices”.

One of the highlights of the session was the commitment made by all countries in the region to work together towards producing a comparable core set of economic statistics by 2020. The core set will serve as a guideline for developing the capacity of national statistical systems and will also provide economic structural information to guide long-term development planning.

“The core set is a compass that can set a direction so that statistical capacity development can be guided,” Mr Geoff Bacand, Chief Statistician of New Zealand told the Committee session.

The Committee session supported the development of a regional programme to improve vital statistics in order to produce timely and accurate population estimates and other demographic and health statistics that are essential for evidence-based planning and resource allocation. The Committee also discussed and endorsed a strategy of regional statistics development that focuses on modernizing statistical information systems in response to the changing information management environment.

First convened in February 2009, the Committee on Statistics is a unique forum for leaders of National Statistical Systems in the Asian and Pacific region to discuss matters of strategic importance, exchange views and formulate regional positions on major statistical issues to influence decision-making at national and global levels. This second session had an unprecedented attendance by 142 delegates from ESCAP members and associate members, together with 31 delegates from intergovernmental and international agencies.

Mr. Sefuiva Reupena Muagututia, Government Statistician of Samoa and Chairman of the newly formed Pacific Statistics Steering Committee, welcomed the strong representation of the Pacific Islands, with seven nations at the second session. “Participation of the Pacific Islands at regional fora such as the ESCAP Committee on Statistics is important to ensure that our [the Pacific Islands] priorities are reflected in statistical standards and initiatives being developed; allow us to share our experiences; and tap into the expertise of the diverse Asia-Pacific region”, he observed.

On behalf of the Bureau for the Committee, its Chairman, Mr Brian Pink outlined an ambitious vision for the regional statistical programme, covering economic, social and vital statistics. “The very exciting part of vital statistics is the engagement with which we have been able to broker with partners such as WHO and national civil registration authorities of a number of member countries,” the Chairman said. “(This is) a good example of the way the Committee is reaching out and working with key partners to support the statistical profile of the most important resource of all in the region, their population,” he added.