On Sunday, 15 January 2017, Risenga Maluleke, Statistics South Africa, moderated the opening session of the first UN World Data Forum. Local children and a student choir opened the Forum by singing the South African national anthem, following which speakers offered opening remarks highlighting the objectives of the event.
Calling for the strengthening of ties, Xanthea Limberg, Cape Town Mayoral Committee, underlined the goal of the Forum to intensify cooperation among statisticians, policymakers, civil society actors, the private sector, academia and other stakeholders to harness the power of data for sustainable development.
Pali Lehohla, Statistician-General, Statistics South Africa, called for thought leadership within the data community to fearlessly eradicate inaccurate or false statistics, and emphasized the role of data and statistics in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Stefan Schweinfest, Director, UN Statistics Division, expressed the desire to bring more people into the data family and said that the UN, which brings people together, is proud to sponsor the UN World Data Forum.
Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the first UN World Data Forum is an important milestone towards ensuring the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He also highlighted the launch of the Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data as a key outcome of the Forum.
Jeff Radebe, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Chairperson of the National Planning Commission of South Africa, said open government cannot succeed without open data that is freely accessible to all citizens, and that “numbers will form the bedrock of a better life for all.”
Lehohla and Radebe then presented lifetime achievement in statistics awards to: Katherine Wallman, former Chief US Statistician; Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General; Hans Rosling, Co-Founder and Chair, Gapminder Foundation; and Enrico Giovannini, Co-Chair of the Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.