As the principal scientific and research organization for the Pacific region, big data, numbers and statistics are at the heart of our work. SPC strives to promote and provide the very best evidence based research for the benefit of our members and partners.  We were therefore, delighted have hosted the 5th Heads of Planning and Statistics (HOPS) meeting this week in Noumea with close to 100 participants from member states, development partners and other stakeholders.

The HOPS meeting is the most important forum for senior statisticians and planners from member states to discuss the challenges of providing statistical services in the region. There was a full and busy agenda for the meeting as several significant statistical reviews and updates have taken place in recent weeks, including the landmark Ten Year Pacific Statistics Strategy (TYPPS) (http://typss.org/pssc/).  TYPPS has been the blueprint for much of the work to build capacity of National Statistics Offices (NSOs) in member states. Phase II of TYPPS has come to a successful conclusion and members will now take these lessons and prepare for the third phase of the strategy, which will determine national and regional statistical priorities through 2020.

SPC also completed an internal Performance Improvement Framework review of the Statistics for Development Division (SDD) to determine fitness for purpose and identify our own priority areas for the next 5 years. The review confirmed that good progress had been made in several areas but more needs to be done to strengthen the collection, collation, analysis, dissemination and use of statistics and data for decision making in the region.  More importantly, the review confirmed our view that better use of data and information is needed in policy development.

HOPS considered and endorsed the design on TYPSS Phase III with a focus on improved governance and coordination, the establishment of a Regional Statistics Method Board and improved efforts at data dissemination.

The change of focus will also see SDD assuming a “Systems Leader” and coordination role, rather than simply providing technical assistance to members.  SDD will enhance the analysis and dissemination of data with reduced focus on data collection.  The team will continue to provide support to member states as well secretariat services to HOPS, the Methods Board and the Pacific Statistics Steering Committee (PSSC).  PSSC is the Standing Committee of HOPS which meets to provide governance and steering oversight in the years when HOPS does not meet.

We are confident that the changes will enhance the provision of statistics services in the region and ensure that accurate, timely and valid data and information is available for decision making across the region.

The next HOPS meeting will take place in 2019.