UN Data World Forum kicks off in Dubai on Monday

Reem Bint Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Co−operation to address opening session

Dubai: The United Nations World Data Forum 2018, is set to kick off on Monday at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, bringing together nearly 2000 data leaders from more than 100 countries.


The forum’s second edition taking place from October 22-24, is hosted by the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA), with the support of the Statistics Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Data experts attending the event from national statistical offices, the private sector, NGOs, academia, and international and regional organisations, will gather to collaborate and tackle data gaps and challenges, launch new initiatives and identify mechanisms to increase financing and support for better data for sustainable development.

“People are interested in finding out more about data — how it can transform the lives of people, how it can help a society achieve prosperity, and how it can be a tool in making a difference in people’s lives,” said Abdullah Nasser Lootah, Director General of the UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority and chairman of the Organising Committee of the UN World Data Forum 2018 during a press conference on Sunday.

The United Nations selected the UAE to host the second edition of the UN World Data Forum 2018 after competing with developed countries, including Switzerland, Finland, Mexico and other countries.

Data to increase 40% annually

The UN estimates that 90 per cent of the world’s data has been developed over the past two years, and that the volume of data will increase by 40 per cent annually.

“We will have experts who have come from all parts of life touched by data either as producers of information or users of information. In order to implement the 2030 sustainable development agenda, adopted by world leaders in 2015, we need numbers, data and statistics,” said Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the United Nations Statistics Division.

With over 80 sessions and parallel events, the forum is a crucial opportunity for major producers and users of data and statistics to find innovative solutions that deliver better data for policy makers and for all citizens in all areas of sustainable development and increase trust in data.

Filling data gaps on important areas of sustainable development will be addressed, such as migration, health, gender, and the environment, among others.

Speakers at the forum’s opening session include UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammad, Reem Bint Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Co−operation, UAE, and Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, UAE.

Sessions and topics discussed

The three-day forum will feature a high level session on improving migration data, to help set new strategies for how to better track the over 258 million migrants around the world, through real-time data sources such as call records. Over 100 countries still lack comprehensive birth and death registration data, as a lack of funding and capacity are serious constraints for many countries.

To address this issue, the forum will also feature a session on financing for data and statistics, which will focus on identifying mechanisms to fill the funding gap and improve the delivery of funds both domestically and internationally.

“We don’t want to just discuss during this forum, but there will be real outcomes as initiatives will be announced during the new couple of days,” said Schweinfest.

“We have a framework to support the Cape Town Action Plan for Sustainable Development data launched during the first edition of the forum in January 2017, and we will discuss the progress over the last one year and nine months,” he added.

Meanwhile, projects to be showcased include the use of high-resolution satellite images to map poverty, measure soil fertility, and improve agricultural productivity. Some sessions during the forum will look at the benefits and risks of using new data sources for the public good, including issues of data privacy and governance.

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