Skip to main content
Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

31 August 2020

Excellency Mr. Kiyoung Choi, Minister of Science and ICT, Republic of Korea 

Mr. Shin-Wook Kang, Commissioner, KOSTAT, Republic of Korea 

Mr. Risenga Maluleke, Statistician General of South Africa and Co-Chair of the UN Global Working Group on Big Data 

Mr. Stefan Schweinfest, Director, UN Statistics Division 

Excellencies, Dear colleagues, Distinguished participants, 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to address the 6th International Conference on Big Data for Official Statistics and for ESCAP to co-host this very important event. 

We are having this conference in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic. Governments are facing severe challenges to overcome health and socio-economic crisis caused by the pandemic. The ensuing economic hardship could push millions of people back into extreme poverty and unemployment. Even youth is now facing a lot uncertainty about the future of work during this pandemic. 

In view of this, let me share two discussion points for your consideration. 

First, I would like to share highlights of key policy recommendations from the recently launched UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief: Impact of COVID-19 on South-East Asia. 

Second, I would like to link policy recommendations of the SG’s Policy Brief to Big Data for Official Statistics in relation to the post-COVID-19 recovery plans and SDGs implementation in Asia and the Pacific. 

Dear colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen, 

Recommendations from SG’s Policy Brief for South-East Asia socio-economic recovery strategy focuses on four thematic areas: tackling inequality, bridging the digital divide, ensuring a green recovery and upholding human rights and good governance practices. 

Let me explain further the above four recommendations: 

On tackling inequality. Achieving a successful recovery from COVID-19 must address systemic issues, including extreme poverty, socio-economic inequalities and gaps in social protection, health care coverage and system. Due attention must be given to the vulnerable segment of the population including women and children from poor and marginal households. 

On bridging the digital divide. COVID-19 has highlighted both the role of digital technologies in pandemic response and the vulnerabilities posed by lack of digital access. Therefore, we are advocating for accelerated investments in ICT infrastructure, both hard and soft infrastructure, as well as the digital economy. 

On greening the recovery. The government policies should be directed to economic sectors as well as industries that are low-carbon, resource efficient and aligned with environmental and climate objectives as in the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. It is essential that all steps taken in the recovery must accelerate towards a sustainable, resilient and low-carbon future. 

On human rights and good governance, certainly countries can play an important role in upholding human rights, good governance, building strong institutions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is huge opportunity to leverage community-based organizations, promote social inclusion, participation and unity; and speak out against discrimination. 

In general, these four recommendations are not only relevant for South East Asian countries but equally relevant and important to countries in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen, 

Recovering better, charting a pathway to a new normal as has been outlined in the SG’s Policy Brief is closely linked with the availability of timely and reliable official statistics. 

Allow me to share three focus areas for your further discussions and deliberations. 

First, using big data, in combination with traditional data sets, is essential to the analysis of inequalities and vulnerabilities in our societies. Using all data sources with real-time analytics could provide insights into public health situation, agri-food systems landscape, and financial inclusion programmes. 

Second, investing in basic ICT infrastructure and skills could facilitate the implementation of big data strategies, especially related to data storage capability and computing power, secure cloud infrastructure and skills to use and integrate data from digitized public services to citizens and businesses. 

Finally, strengthening environmental statistics, environmental accounts and using geospatial information, as a part providing a whole-of-government statistical service could support the green recovery across economies and societies. 

I look forward to your views on how governments can use Big Data for Official Statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and socio-economic policy responses in the era of COVID-19. 

Thank you very much.

Print this article


Statistics +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]