TReNDS in conversation on the future of modern statistical systems

Written by Jay Neuner 

On the sidelines of the July 2019 High-level Political Forum, TReNDS co-hosted multiple events on the future of modern statistical systems.

First up was a closed roundtable on the role of governments in building modern statistical systems. The conversation hinged on the notion that these systems require radical transformations if we are to use them to monitor SDG progress, and thus achieve the SDGs. With representatives from government, international organizations, and civil society, the conversation highlighted the experiences of stakeholders throughout the data ecosystem.

We asked, what are the steps forward to realize these transformations for the betterment of data for development? 

  • Align in planning – Governments must ensure that efforts are aligned not only to the global framework of the SDGs, but also to existing or in-development national plans and even subnational efforts.

  • Empower the national statistician – National statisticians and their systems must have more control over monitoring efforts, even cross-agency, and skills development should be prioritized for the statisticians responsible for executing on the national statistical strategy.

  • Establish the right legal frameworks – Look to examples and innovations for accountability through legal frameworks, while also exploring complementary mechanisms.

  • Be inclusive – Bring in more stakeholders, e.g. from academia and the private sector.

  • Establish clear principles around data sharing – Principles will be imperative to amplifying successes and ensuring real progress, particularly as sources such as private sector big data (potentially with inborn bias) are pulled into monitoring efforts.

  • Center on national-level action – International mechanisms need to mirror national-level mechanisms, and financing as part of the national strategy must occur; coordination cannot occur only from the top down.

For further reflections and recommendations on building modern statistical systems, read a preview of our upcoming report, Counting on the World to Act (coming September 2019), and Director Jessica Espey's column in Nature.

 TReNDS, The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, the UN Statistics Division and the World Bank also hosted a closed-door conversation on a new initiative to identify timely data in support of the SDGs. Attended by the private sector, civil society, academia, and governments, the event focused on feedback on the initiative's concept from these stakeholders, raising critical questions about the effort, and discussion of the roles these stakeholders can play. Learn more about the initiative here, and stay tuned for updates starting in September 2019. Email Jessica Espey at for more information on how to get involved.