FORUM ECONOMIC OFFICIALS MEETING
Suva, Fiji 7 May 2019
Address By Cameron Diver
Deputy Director-General Of The Pacific Community
On Governance And Financing Of Regional Statistics
Good afternoon to you all.
Please allow me, in opening, to acknowledge our partners, from NSOs to development partners and other intergovernmental organisations, who help us take forward the regional statistics work programme. In particular, I’d like to acknowledge PFTAC for their contribution to the paper and conclusions we are presenting today.
The paper provides you with an update on Regional Statistics Governance, the National Statistics Collection Programme in the Region for the period 2019-2023, efforts made to develop new survey and census methodologies.
I would like to draw your attention to what we consider to be the critical issue that we would urge you to place on the agenda for consideration by Ministers of Economy and Finance at tomorrow’s meeting: that is financing for statistics in the region
In endorsing the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development, Leaders underscored the need for timely, high quality data to ensure countries are able to meet their reporting requirements under the SAMOA Pathway and the 2030 Agenda.
Beyond these global frameworks, I would like to stress the importance of data and statistics to support the Blue Pacific narrative and any evidence-based analysis of the impact and outcomes of national policies or regional development initiatives. Without reliable, trusted data, we will be flying blind. Beyond anecdotal evidence, we will not be able to demonstrate the economic, environmental and human impact of climate change and biodiversity loss in our region, nor any progress towards addressing these major challenges. Without reliable, trusted data, we will not have the evidence-base to make objectively prioritised decisions, at national and regional level, on which areas require urgent investment and action, whether it be public health, education, employment, violence against women and girls or economic opportunities for young people. Without reliable, trusted data, we will not be able to clearly identify the drivers of economic growth at national and regional level and then leverage that information to enhance opportunities.
And those are just a few examples.
In this context, over the next five years, we estimate at USD 224 million the total cost of the planned 5 year core data collection programme across the region. We also estimate that there will be a funding gap of between USD20 and 30 million for smaller countries in the region to conduct this programme.
With our Members and development partners, we must therefore anticipate the need for these additional resources to meet the estimated funding shortfall and enable all planned core statistical collections to be completed in the work programme through to 2023.
It is important to note that beyond its contribution to national statistical collections, this 5 year programme will provide the data for around 60% of the 132 Pacific headline indicators for the SDGs, so our collective ability to take this work forward is critical.
Given the increased demand for Pacific statistics, from both countries and partners of the region, SPC would urge you, as finance and economic senior officials, to underscore the importance of data and statistics as an evidence base for national planning and development and to strengthen the regional narrative through the Blue Pacific.
We would also urge you to highlight recommendation (i) of this paper on the agenda of Forum Economic Ministers inviting them to recognise the importance of having up-to-date statistics to inform national policy decision-making, as well as SDG and other reporting requirements, and, in light of the costs of the 5 year data collection programme, inviting national governments to commit to contributing a minimum of two-thirds of the costs towards statistical core collections.
Allow me, in closing, to insist upon this point: your commitment and that of our development partners to delivering this level of funding to statistics and data would demonstrate strong national and regional ownership of these collections. It would contribute significantly to strengthening the evidence base for policymaking and impact analysis. And, above all, it would provide us with quality data and statistics produced in the Pacific for the Pacific as the strongest possible foundation to inform policy, action and the accompanying policy and political narratives that will support the Blue Pacific and enhance regional positions and progress in international processes such as the 2030 Agenda, the SAMOA Pathway, and international climate, biodiversity and ocean mechanisms, to name but a few.
Investing in data and statistics is an investment in your countries’ and our region’s capacity for enhanced evidence-based decision and policy making to help us better navigate the challenges of the present and the future.