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1st UN World Data Forum

15-18 January 2017 | Cape Town, South Africa

Highlights for Tuesday, 17 January 2017

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A view of Cape Town (photo courtesy of the Cape Town International Convention Center (CTICC), venue of the 1st UN World Data Forum)

Participants during the UN World Data Forum

UN Data Forum The third day of the first UN World Data Forum opened on Tuesday morning, 17 January, with the plenary session on “Capturing the 21st Century through Data and Algorithms.” Speakers emphasized that the public’s world view and knowledge do not mirror reality, and suggested that schools are better places to create a more fact-based world view than the media; emphasized the value of building narratives from data to steer the narrative to implement the SDGs; and highlighted that, while data can be used to achieve the SDGs, the benefits will be greatest if people participate and are involved in designing, collecting and using that data. On questions of trust, panelists emphasized effectively communicating progress that has been made in development, building a more fact-based society, and making data and statistics more open to contributions and to interrogation by society.

A number of resources and projects were announced or demonstrated throughout the day, including: the Open Algorithm project (OPAL), which serves as a forum through which open algorithms can extract key development data; the Joined-up Data Alliance, which is a coalition of open data standards setters, users and advocates collaborating on the development and usage of data standards; data.world, which is a social network for “data people”; “Dollar Street"”, which is the largest systematic image bank to document home life for people with different income levels around the world; and the Global Reporting Initiative’s sdgcompass.org, which helps companies measure their contributions to the SDGs. In addition, the International Roadmap on Open Data, which summarizes the proceedings of the International Open Data Conference 2016 and includes an action plan, was launched.

Participants attended a gala dinner in the evening, sponsored by MTN South Africa.

IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ Meeting Coverage, provided daily web coverage and a summary report from the 1st UN World Data Forum. Our summary report is available in HTML and PDF format.
Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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Opening Plenary: Capturing the 21st Century through Data and Algorithms


View of the panel during the plenary


Anne Jellema, Chief Executive Officer, World Wide Web Foundation

Ola Rosling, President and Co-Founder, Gapminder Foundation


Daniel Runde, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

Emmanuel Letouzé, Director and Co-Founder, Data-Pop Alliance

Pali Lehohla, Statistician-General, Statistics South Africa


Participants raise their hands during a live survey


Morning Breakout Sessions


Session on 'Investing in people – human and technical capacity and leadership'


Session on 'Open data: from principles to practice'


Shaida Badiee, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Open Data Watch

Barbara Ryan, Secretariat Director, Group on Earth Observations (GEO)

Fernando Perini, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada


Session on the 'Use of administrative data for statistics – from input to output'


Session on 'Data for collective impact and new data frontiers'


Simon Carpenter, SAP South Africa

Kathleen Strottman, Executive Director, Global Alliance for Children


Session on 'Data for all: tools for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)'


Session on 'Small Area Estimates (SAE) method training workshop: combining data sources to generate SAE for family planning'


Session on 'Using photos as data to understand how everyone lives'


Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Gapminder Foundation

Jeroen Smits, Global Data Lab


Session on 'Building citizen-generated data applications in the cloud, crowdsourcing and sharing stories'


Panel speakers for the session on 'Celebrating women in data'


Erika Wiese, The Innovation Edge

Yeama Thompson, Open Data Council, Sierra Leone

Robyn Farah, KAT-O (Kick-Ass Technology-Obviously)


Session on 'Involving different stakeholders in the official statistical production – experiences and challenges'


Main Plenary: Counting People to Make People Count -
The Need for Better Data to Ensure that No One is Left Behind


Panel speakers during the plenary


Yusuf Murangwa, Director General, National Institute of Statistics, Rwanda

Haishan Fu, Development Data Group, World Bank

John Pullinger, Chief Executive, UK Statistics Authority


Sofía García García, SOS Children’s Villages Representative to the UN in New York

Mosharraf Hossain, ADD International

Patricia Conboy, HelpAge International



Afternoon Breakout Sessions


Session on 'Integrating data from different sources to count the most vulnerable'


Session on 'Capacity building for modernization of institutions, governance and business processes'


Rachael Beaven, Department for International Development (DFID)

Oliver Chinganya, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Ruth Levine, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation


Session on 'Gender data for decision making: strengthening the links'


Session on 'Emerging standards and best practices for data sharing, interoperability, use, and stewardship'


Alison Holder, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

Chuang Liu, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGSNRR/CAS)


Session on 'Learning workshop: new data tools for cross-national population, environmental and development analysis'


Session on 'Private sector data for the SDGs – bringing the best of minds to solve a data aggregation challenge'


Douglas Kativu, Director, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Africa

Vishnee Sowamber Payen, LUX Group

Philipp Schönrock, Director, Centro de Pensamiento Estratégico Internacional (CEPEI)


Session on 'Making best use of data from research organisations and think tanks in the Global South'


Session on 'The “missing millions” and data collaboratives'


Rick Rinehart, Global Alliance for Children

Jenna Slotin, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD)


Session on 'Empowering people with data: tips and tools for creative data literacy'


Session on 'A modernization of collaborative frameworks among data communities'


Linda Peters, Esri

Irena Križman, Vice President, International Statistical Institute (ISI)

Claire Melamed, Executive Director, GPSDD


Around the Venue


Materials on display around the venue


Participants meet informally throughout the day



Around the Cape Town International Convention Centre





Specific funding for coverage of the 1st UN World Data Forum has been provided by the
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
SDC