The second UN World Data Forum opened on Monday, 22 October 2018. During the opening plenary, Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, reflected on the value of the Forum to implementing the SDGs and guiding international development policy through the successful integration of economic, social and environmental data. He highlighted the importance of removing barriers to new data sources and modernizing national statistical systems to meet new data demands.
High-level statements were offered by Abdulla Nasser Lootah, Director General, Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, United Arab Emirates, and Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General. Lootah thanked Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for participating in the session, and highlighted that the UAE is working to ensure the best possible data for driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, to ensure that it involves the best innovation possible.
Mohammed highlighted that robust and accessible data and information can provide a host of benefits, including the ability of citizens to monitor how their governments are performing and to hold decision-makers to account. She called attention to a number of related UN projects on data, including the Open Data Hub for the SDGs, the Global SDG indicator website, and UN Global Pulse. She also stressed that UN country teams of the future must be equipped with the skills and capacities necessary to harness the opportunities offered by all types of data and innovation.
During an opening roundtable dialogue on harnessing the power of data to meet the data demands of the 2030 Agenda, Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Group, highlighted the 2018 SDG Atlas, which maps, charts and provides stories related to the SDGs and draws on the World Development Indicators, a database of over 1400 indicators for more than 220 economies with data going back 50 years. Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, noted that meteorological and climate change data amounts to 100 million gigabytes per day, and said it would take scientists over one hundred years to analyze. He said this scenario demonstrates humanity’s race against time in the use of data. Harpinder Collacott, Development Initiatives, underscored the value of policymakers at the national and sub-national levels in determining data investments to ensure informed policies for decision making. Clint Brown, Esri, called attention to the emerging opportunities to bring together data from multiple systems as well as the possibilities to use large data sets with cloud systems.
Nearly 2,000 registered participants participated in 30 parallel events during the first day, addressing topics ranging from big data to capacity building, data platforms, and community data collaborations.
Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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