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UN Statistical Commission Sets Roadmap to Post-2015 Indicators

unsc_466 March 2015: The 46th session of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) addressed the issue of data in support of the post-2015 development agenda, considered proposals contained in a report from the Group of Friends of the Chair (FOC), and made plans for developing an indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the opening of the Session, which took place in New York, US, on 3-6 March 2015, Chair John Pullinger said the Commission must: “step up" by showing leadership in thinking through the world's next priorities; “step forward” toward political colleagues to “make common cause” with them; and “step on the gas” in order to embrace the opportunities of the data revolution. Pullinger, national statistician of the UK, was elected following his nomination by the US delegation. The Commission elected as Vice Chairs: Gabriella Vukovich of Hungary, for the Eastern European Group; Jiantang Ma of China, for the Asia-Pacific Group; and Aubrey Browne of Barbados, for the Group of Latin America and Caribbean States.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said stepping on the gas was the right spirit for the week's work. While the world “is bursting with information,” he said, we lack data where we need it most, in the poorest and most marginalized communities. Eliasson said the overarching objective of the post-2015 development agenda will be to “leave no one behind,” and no target should be seen as met until it is met by all. He added that data will be the “lifeblood of decision-making and the raw material for accountability” in the new agenda, and called on the Commission to provide a monitoring, statistical and data framework that meets the hopes for the new agenda.

Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the UN Statistics Division (UNSD), said a survey on a preliminary proposed set of indicators for the SDGs was just launched, and the results will be shared at the March session of the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda.

During the deliberations, UNSC members expressed concern regarding the presentation of the survey results at the March negotiation session, stressing that the list should be considered only a preliminary proposal, and not preclude its further refinement based on subsequent technical discussions. Participants said that the development of a high-quality indicator framework is a technical process which requires time and needs to be conducted in stages, including the possibility of future refinements as knowledge evolves. In this regard, it endorsed the FOC's proposed road map for developing and implementing an indicator framework. Per the road map, the indicator framework will be endorsed at the 47th session of the Commission, in 2016. Participants said the global indicator framework should: contain a limited number of indicators; build on the experiences of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); and take into account conceptual indicator frameworks that have already been developed.

UNSC endorsed the formation of an Inter-agency and expert group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs). It decided that national statistical offices (NSOs) play the leading role in developing an indicator framework, while existing regional and international mechanisms should be used to ensure equitable regional representation and technical expertise.

The Commission also supported the formation of a new high-level group (HLG) to foster capacity building, partnership and coordination for post-2015 monitoring.

During the week's discussion, the need for investments to enhance national statistical capacity, especially in developing and the least developed countries (LDCs), was stressed. The UNSC also discussed, inter alia: the Data revolution; Big data; Transformative agenda for official statistics; Population and housing censuses; Crime statistics; Refugee statistics; Household surveys; International trade and economic globalization statistics; Environmental-economic accounting; Agriculture and rural statistics; Governance, peace and security statistics; Health statistics; Gender statistics; Civil registration and vital statistics; and Business registers.

The third session of the intergovernmental negotiations on post-2015 development agenda will take place on 23-27 March 2015, and focus on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), targets and indicators. As Schweinfest explained, UNSD is in a period of “mutual reassurance” with the post-2015 intergovernmental process: the negotiation process needs to see how the Division approaches the assessment of indicators, while the Division needs assurances that Member States will allow time to develop a solid indicator framework. [UNSC 46 Documents] [IISD RS Sources] [Report of the Friends of the Chair Group on broader measures of progress]