Nov 16, 2015

World Statistics Day Statement on Global Development

Over 50 organizations, including the IMS, marked World Statistics Day (20th of October) with a statement urging that global development must no longer be hampered by a lack of the most basic data about the social and economic circumstances in which people live.

In September, at the United Nations General Assembly, heads of states and governments came together to launch a new and ambitious agenda for world development from 2016 to 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals set out 17 goals with 169 targets and more than 300 indicators to monitor progress. In the lead up to the launch of the goals, a report by a high-level panel of eminent persons set up by the UN Secretary General to advise on the Post–2015 Development Agenda, recognised that for too long development efforts have been hampered by a lack of the most basic data about the social and economic circumstances in which people live.

If the world is to live up to the promises made by our leaders then more, and better, data will be essential. To abolish poverty everywhere, in all its forms, the world will need to ensure that everyone is counted, that progress is being monitored and that this information is made available in an accessible and usable form as widely as possible. This will require a true data revolution, one that makes use of the possibilities provided by new technology, but also one that keeps the information about individuals confidential and which provides information that is trusted and credible.

The signatories to this statement support the call for a data revolution and recognise the importance of data for policy making and for accountability in all countries of the world. The challenges of the new development agenda require new approaches including a much greater emphasis on open data and the use of new data sources. We have to take advantage of the opportunities provided by new technology and big data and national statistical systems are central to this effort. These systems—set up and financed by governments to collect, process and disseminate the information needed to manage government activities—are crucial. They operate within a framework of legislation and ethical principles that promote objectivity, independence, confidentiality and accountability. These principles are likely to be even more important in the next 15 years than they have been in the past.

Considerable progress has been made throughout the world in building and strengthening the capacity of national statistical systems since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, but much still remains to be done. Too many countries operate under severe financial and human resource constraints. To meet the data challenges of the sustainable development goals, national statistical systems must be properly financed, the development of statistical skills and expertise must be supported, and access to new tools and technology must be provided. Also, support must be provided not just to the collection of data, but to its transformation into useful and actionable information. Above all a true data revolution that puts useful and usable information into the hands of everyone who needs it, especially the poor and the marginalised, must be pursued.

A full list of the signatories is on the Royal Statistical Society’s website, here.


Leave a comment




Welcome to the IMS Bulletin website! We are developing the way we communicate news and information more effectively with members. The print Bulletin is still with us (free with IMS membership), and still available as a PDF to download, but in addition, we are placing some of the news, columns and articles on this blog site, which will allow you the opportunity to interact more. We are always keen to hear from IMS members, and encourage you to write articles and reports that other IMS members would find interesting. Contact the IMS Bulletin at

What is “Open Forum”?

In the Open Forum, any IMS member can propose a topic for discussion. Email your subject and an opening paragraph (to and we'll post it to start off the discussion. Other readers can join in the debate by commenting on the post. Search other Open Forum posts by using the Open Forum category link below. Start a discussion today!

About IMS

The Institute of Mathematical Statistics is an international scholarly society devoted to the development and dissemination of the theory and applications of statistics and probability. We have about 4,500 members around the world. Visit IMS at
Latest Issue