This year, some 60 countries are collecting data and counting people as part of the 2010 census process. A census is the only statistical operation that covers the whole population and all areas of a country. UNFPA - the United Nations Population Fund - and other partners are supporting this massive effort in many parts of the world.
Access to good data is a component of good governance, transparency and accountability. Population data helps leaders and policy-makers to make informed decisions about policies and programmes to reduce poverty and hunger, and advance education, health and gender equality. Solid data is also needed to effectively respond to humanitarian crises.
The theme of this year's World Population Day is "Everyone counts". To be counted is to become visible. This is especially important for women and young people. Data that is sorted by gender and age can foster increased responsiveness by national decision-makers to the rights and needs of women and youth and help build a more equitable and prosperous society.
It is promising that many countries that were unable to complete a national census in the past have reported success during this current round. The next challenge will be to ensure the data is used to make evidence-based plans and policies that will improve opportunities for current and future generations.
On this World Population Day, I call on decision-makers everywhere to make each and every person count. Only by considering the needs of all women and men, girls and boys, can we achieve the Millennium Development Goals and advance the shared values of the United Nations.