Powering sustainable development: first World Data Forum begins

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Wu Hongbo, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, second from left, addresses reporters at the UN World Data Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, on 15 January. UN Photo/Mbongiseni Mndebele

The first ever UN World Data Forum got underway in South Africa on Sunday with the ambitious aim of building a global consensus over harnessing data better, in order to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It's been organized by the UN in alliance with the South African government, and has brought together more than 1,500 data specialists from over 100 countries.

Matthew Wells has more.

The inaugural gathering in Cape Town aims to rally support behind a new global action plan on using data, and statistics to make the 17 SDGs – such as ending hunger, poverty and tackling global warming – more achievable.

The Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data has been prepared over the past year by a high-level group of experts responsible for statistics and data policy in their respective countries.

It calls for a commitment in six different areas, including innovation and modernization of statistical collection, building partnerships, mobilizing resources better and passing on data which will be key to knowing if the SDGs can be reached over the next 15 years.

Wu Hongbo, who heads the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the secretariat running the forum, said that it would be a place not just for inter-governmental discussion, but also where entrepreneurs, private sector companies and other stakeholders could meet.

The main part of the forum begins on Monday with dozens of sessions planned including data labs and interactive knowledge-sharing, together with more formal speeches and panels.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'03"

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