Trust and authority: Connecting the world with data and statistics

October 20 is World Statistics Day.   A celebration of data, statistics and statisticians everywhere.

The United Nations observes designated days, weeks, years and decades to promote international awareness and action on issues.  World Water Day for example, is held on 22 March every year to focus on the importance of freshwater.   On 3 May every year, World Press Freedom Day is a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated 20 October 2010 as the first ever World Statistics Day.    Five years later, the General Assembly designated 20 October 2015 as the second World Statistics Day and agreed to celebrate World Statistics Day every five years on 20 October.  On 20 October 2020, we celebrate the third World Statistics Day.

Connecting the world with data we can trust

The third World Statistics Day will be celebrated with the theme “Connecting the world with data we can trust.” This theme reflects on the importance of trust, authoritative data, innovation and the public good in national statistical systems. “As the United Nations marks its seventy-fifth anniversary and the world deploys data to face a common challenge, let us use World Statistics Day to spotlight the role of statistics in advancing sustainable development for all,” says the UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres.

What does this mean to you?

Statistical Leaders across the world have shared their insights into what the 2020 World Statistics Day means to them.

Professor Shigeru Kawasaki

The author with Professor Kawasaki, Chiba, Japan, December 2019

Professor Shigeru Kawasaki was elected to represent Japan as Chair of the UN Statistical Commission in 2020.  The Statistical Commission is the highest body of the global statistical system, responsible for setting statistical standards and the development of concepts and methods including their implementation at the national and international level.  Prior to representing Japan as a member of the UN Statistical Commission, Professor Kawasaki was the 14thPresident of the International Association of Official Statistics from 2013 to 2015, the first Japanese to hold this title.  

Reflecting on World Statistics Day in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Kawasaki says “statistics bear important roles in the stressful time of the pandemic.   To outsmart the formidable virus, intensive global collaboration is essential. In this way, the world is connected by statistics in order to win the fight against COVID-19.

“We should also note that reliable data is essential but that is not sufficient. Sound analyses and interpretations should be applied, and the findings should be well communicated to the citizens. Furthermore, we should also keep in mind that value of official statistics will be enhanced if they are used together with other statistics and analyses produced by academia, the private sector and other institutions, depending on the situation.”

Mr. Gogita Todradze

Mr. Gogita Todradze is the Executive Director of GEOSTAT, Georgia’s National Statistical Office and has held this office since 2018.  

In August 2020, Mr. Todradze was elected chair of the Bureau of the UN ESCAP Committee on Statistics.  The Committee on Statistics aims to ensure that by 2020, all countries in Asia and the Pacific have the capability to provide a basic range of population, economic, social and environmental statistics and more adaptive and cost-effective information management environment is created through stronger collaboration for national statistical offices.

To Mr. Todradze,  “World Statistics Day is an excellent opportunity for all statisticians to come together and celebrate.  Establishing strong national statistical systems is a common objective for the Asia and Pacific statistical community as it is the basis for high-quality official statistics and hence the main instrument for decision making and policy execution.”

“We have just concluded deliberations at our Committee on Statistics and identified priorities for regional action including innovation, skill development and official statistics based on non-traditional data sources.  Together we are looking forward to a strong future of trusted official statistics, based on professional independence, objectivity and public trust.”

Ms. Allimuamua Malaefono Taua-T. Fassalaina

Ms. Allimuamua Malaefono Taua-T. Fassalaina is Samoa’s Government Statistician and Chief Executive Officer of the Samoan Bureau of Statistics.   She has held this post since 2018 and has been a professional statistician since 1987. 

In September 2020, Samoa, represented by Ms. Allimuamua, was elected to the UN Statistician Commission.  This is the first time in its history that Samoa has been a member of the highest body of the global statistical system. It is also a precedent for any Pacific Island country.   Samoa’s election is another reason to celebrate the 2020 World Statistics Day.

World Statistics Day means a lot to Ms. Allimuamua.  Speaking from Samoa, she says “The Pacific Islands are a population to just over 2 million people scattered over an area of around 15% of the earth’s surface.  Pacific Island countries are some of the most vulnerable in the world to the effects of climate change and disasters, and to external shocks such as COVID-19.”

“Having trusted and authoritative statistics about the Pacific Islands is essential to evidence-based decision making at the national, regional and international levels.  The 2020 World Statistics Day is about connecting the world with data we can trust and Samoa is proud to be connected regionally with her Pacific Island neighbours, with the Asia-Pacific statistical community and now globally through the UN Statistical Commission.”   

Celebrations across the world

The celebration of World Statistics Day 2020 is a global collaborative endeavor organized under the guidance of the United Nations Statistical Commission.   The Statistics Division of the United Nations Department of Economic Affairs is the global coordinator of the campaign, defining global key messages and making available outreach resources to countries and other partners through this website.

National statistical offices (NSOs) act as national coordinators, translating promotional materials into national languages and organizing events and outreach efforts at national and subnational levels.  Uruguay for example, kicks off World Statistics Day with the launch of the Strategic Plan of the National Institute of Statistics, two webinars on virtual censuses and on planning the future, and a round table on challenges for the 2023 Census.  Meanwhile, the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation launched a campaign on collecting interesting facts about NSOs to present them further on in the shape of diagrams and charts visualizing the differences.   And in Malaysia, the 7th MyStats Day is being held under the theme Census Shapes Nation’s Future following their excellent hosting of the 62nd ISI World Statistics Congress in 2019.

International organizations play a key role in amplifying campaigns at the global and regional levels and organizing their own events.   The International Statistical Institute (ISI) and the International Association of Official Statistics is pleased to amplify their voices and wish everyone a very happy World Statistics Day 2020. 

All posts are written by authors in their personal capacity and in no way represent the view of the organisations, universities, governments, or agencies where they are employed or with which they are associated, or the views of the International Statistical Institute (ISI).

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