The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) said on Friday that the COVID-19 pandemic has proved that good data saves lives, ahead of the UN World Data Forum, which begins on Sunday.
The event, which will take place in Bern, Switzerland from October 3-6, comes at a “critical time” as the globe continues to grapple with the pandemic, according to Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the United Nations Statistics Division.
Mr. Schweinfest claims that the world is still plagued by massive data gaps. 40% of countries lack a birth or death registration system, which is a critical tool for governments to protect their citizens.
Only 60 nations had data on COVID-19 infections and death rates that could be disaggregated by gender and sex a year into the pandemic. He said that now is the moment to redouble the world’s efforts.
Data must be made smarter, and emerging innovations must be used to enhance the amount and improve the quality of data.
Hundreds of data specialists, users, and producers will gather at the UN World Data Forum to collaborate on innovative data solutions to aid in the execution of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Bern Data Compact for a Decade of Action on the Sustainable Development Goals will be adopted at the end of the Forum.
The Compact will urge the community to create data that leaves no one behind, to provide timely, open, and impartial data, and to foster data protection trust.
It also intends to improve local and worldwide collaboration amongst diverse data groups in order to achieve the SDGs using data.
The Forum shines a spotlight on innovations and data gaps every two years, showing progress in the data revolution and the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data.
Mr. Schweinfest acknowledged that governments would find it difficult to open up and expand their data ecosystems, but said the challenge is to have more data with “quality assurances,” and that the Forum is a place for the community to collaborate on new initiatives that will continue after October 6.