Today’s celebration of World Statistics Day comes right after Sunday’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, last month’s UN General Assembly agreeing the Sustainable Development Goals and the launch of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.
A common thread? Better data leads to better lives.
World Statistics Day celebrates the role of statistics, the institutions and individuals that produce them, and the impact they have in designing and monitoring the policies and services that can improve people’s wellbeing.
There are some big gaps in country-level data - gaps in what we know. That’s why we’re working with our partners to identify priority investments to close these gaps.
The areas we’ll initially focus on include: ensuring universal civil registration of births and deaths; improving economic statistics; expanding the coverage of household surveys in the world’s poorest countries; and taking advantage of new technologies and data sources to improve data production and use.
So without further ado, my colleages around the Bank have put together 17 statistics that stand out for them - some you may know, some you may not, all of them related to the Sustainable Development Goals:
The first SDG is about “ending poverty in all its forms everywhere” and for me, it’s been the headline ambition of the whole SDG process. New data projects the global poverty rate falling below double digits for the first time this year.
Essential health services are typically delivered through primary health care and SDG3’s focus on health and wellbeing aims to see universal health coverage and across the board reductions in preventable and treatable deaths.
The Women, Business and the Law study found that 155 out of 173 countries had at least one legal gender difference that restricted economic opportunities for women. SDG5 aims to achieve gender equality and to make such differences a relic of the past.
Poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. SDG6 seeks sustainable access to water and sanitation for all.
SDG8 aims for inclusive growth and and productive employment for both men and women.
Innovation is a key part of SDG9 and will require smart investment in technology development, research and innovation in developing countries.
Most of the world’s population already lives in cities, and by 2050, 70% of us will by city dwellers. SDG11 aims to see these settlements be inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
Without transformational changes in how we use and reuse materials, the amount of garbage humans throw away is rising fast and won't peak this century, SDG12 aims to move us to sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Agriculture is crucial to economic growth, accounting for a large share of many economies. But agriculture-driven growth and poverty reduction, as well as food security are at risk: without the action envisioned by SDG13, a warming climate could cut crop yields by more than 25 percent.
Along with being a food source, millions of jobs are linked to fisheries and SDG14 seeks to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.
In addition to formal and informal employment, it’s estimated that 12% of the world’s population collect and rely on wood or charcoal for fuel. SDG15 aims to protect terrestrial ecosystems, halting and reversing degradation and biodiversity loss.
Data are a key part of SDG17. Hal Varian knows that statisticians have the “sexiest job” of this decade and a recent McKinsey study found that just in the USA, the gap in the number of people with the data skills the economy stands at over a million. These skills are important for our future - one of my favorite data scientists, Hilary Mason (in the picture above) was even named one of the 100 most creative people in business. While data scientists and statisticians are occasionally portrayed as warring tribes, we know that really, we’re all on the same side (especially on World Statistics Day!).I hope that some of the stats above have been illuminating, and if they have, remember, that in order to have a fact-based view of the world, every country needs data and data-literate citizens. Every country needs people with the skills to produce, analyse and communicate with data.