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ECLAC Calls for Breaking Statistical Silences and Seeking More and Better Data to Move Towards Sustainable Development with Equality

The United Nations regional commission’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, and the Director of Chile’s National Institute of Statistics, Guillermo Patillo, inaugurated the Tenth Meeting of the Statistical Conference of the Americas today in Santiago.

19 November 2019|Press Release

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Official photograph of the Tenth Meeting of the Statistical Conference of the Americas of ECLAC.
Official photograph of the Tenth Meeting of the Statistical Conference of the Americas of ECLAC.
Photo: Carlos Vera/ECLAC.

The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, urged the region’s countries to break the statistical silence and seek more and better data to respond to the long-standing desire for sustainable development with equality.

ECLAC’s most senior representative, along with Guillermo Patillo, Director of the National Institute of Statistics (INE) of Chile, and Rolando Ocampo, Chief of ECLAC’s Statistics Division, inaugurated the Tenth Meeting of the Statistical Conference of the Americas, which will be held through Thursday, November 21 at the United Nations regional commission’s central headquarters in Santiago, Chile.

“We have come to break silences, to seek more and better data to forge effective paths to a better tomorrow. We have come to share what we’ve learned and strengthen capacities, to more accurately depict the traits of our reality, not for the purposes of contemplation but instead with a transformative spirit that seeks to respond to the long-standing desire for sustainable development with equality,” Alicia Bárcena stated in her opening remarks.

The high-ranking United Nations official said experience has shown that having timely and quality statistical information is an essential precondition for States to be able to effectively and efficiently perform their irreplaceable role.

“This is essential so that policies are based on evidence coming from national statistical systems that bring together ever more autonomous statistics institutes, central banks, and health, economics and environment-related agencies, among others,” she indicated.

She also underscored that territory matters and, therefore, geography matters. “Our territory is marked by its own singularities, urgencies and needs, its own history and dreams. That is our fundamental raw material,” she said.

ECLAC’s Executive Secretary highlighted that, 19 years after its creation, the Statistical Conference of the Americas (SCA) has become a crucial pillar for the statistical development of Latin American and Caribbean countries due to its countless roles, which range from representing the region’s countries in the global mechanisms involved in the Sustainable Development Goals process, the wide variety of the thematic and statistical tools available to the Conference’s working groups, to addressing the most recent challenges.

She added that strengthening official statistics in the region’s countries is not just the responsibility of national statistics offices, but of society as a whole, and the State most especially.

“This highlights the importance of giving more priority and resources to the development of National Statistical Systems, while simultaneously taking action to improve the legal and institutional framework of these systems with the aim of bolstering confidence in statistics among all social, economic and political actors,” she said.

During her remarks, Alicia Bárcena welcomed Rolando Ocampo, the new Chief of ECLAC’s Statistics Division.

Meanwhile, Guillermo Patillo, in his capacity as chair of the Tenth Meeting of the Statistical Conference of the Americas, highlighted the exchange of experiences taking place between the region’s countries in areas such as geography and matters related to big volumes of data.

“We hope that over the next two years, we will continue making progress on ever more effective coordination and on increasingly profound exchanges of experience and knowledge, under the aegis of ECLAC, which has provided us with a unique forum for integration,” he stated.

The INE’s Director added that in the last biennium, the region’s countries “have carried forward a set of initiatives that contribute to elevating the average level of statistics and of the methodologies we use.”

“For the biennium that is about to start, we have sought to focus our efforts so that we can achieve things that make sense to us and that take us a step further with regard to methodological and technical issues,” he said.

The Statistical Conference of the Americas is a subsidiary body of ECLAC and its main mandates include promoting the development and improvement of national statistics and their international comparability, as well as international, regional and bilateral cooperation among national offices and international and regional agencies.

During the SCA’s tenth meeting, participants will address the institutional strengthening of national statistics offices and their leading role, the development of human resources and of statistical production to ensure its quality, as well as regional and international coordination and cooperation for developing official statistics in the region.

Member States will also analyze the outcomes of the Biennial Programme of Regional and International Cooperation Activities 2018-2019, approve the creation of Working Groups for the 2020-2021 period, and select the new Executive Committee of the Conference for the 2020-2021 biennium.

In addition, a joint session will be held with members of the Regional Committee of United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management for the Americas.

As a prelude to the Conference’s tenth meeting, on Monday, November 18, a high-level seminar was held on the future of economic statistics in Latin America and the Caribbean, in which prominent experts called for rethinking the current statistics system’s pertinence for tackling structural challenges in a changing world, in light of the 2030 Agenda.