Representatives of national statistics institutes from Latin America and the Caribbean called today for deepening statistical cooperation at a regional and international level to meet the growing demand for timely and quality data and information for a sustainable and egalitarian recovery, during the inauguration of the twenty-first meeting of the Executive Committee of the Statistical Conference of the Americas (SCA) of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Participating in this intergovernmental gathering – which is taking place through Thursday, August 25 at ECLAC’s central headquarters in Santiago, Chile – are 28 of the Commission’s Member States and 4 associate members, along with representatives of United Nations agencies, funds and programs, intergovernmental organizations and academia.
The meeting was inaugurated by Rolando Ocampo, Director of ECLAC’s Statistics Division; Marco Lavagna, Director of the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC) of Argentina, the country serving as Chair of the Statistical Conference of the Americas of ECLAC; and Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the United Nations Statistics Division.
In his opening speech, Rolando Ocampo thanked the member countries for their inclination towards collaborative work and initiative to generate useful products for the region through the actions of working groups and other complementary mechanisms.
In addition, he referred to the central issues that will be addressed in the course of the meeting: recent progress on implementing population and housing censuses, and the statistical challenges for measuring development, among others.
In that regard, he emphasized that censuses are one of the most important statistical operations a country can conduct, and a source of essential information for public policies and for countless statistical operations that use the inputs they provide.
He warned that, despite their importance, implementing the most recent round of censuses has not been easy, since the logistical and financial difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic entailed delays in their implementation and a redesign of the necessary processes.
For that reason, he said, “we consider this to be an excellent time to have a conversation about experiences and lessons learned, which can serve as a reference for the processes underway and help us better visualize the path to follow for the continuity of censuses in the future.”
The Director of ECLAC’s Statistics Division also addressed the measurement of development, stressing that while GDP has been widely used as an indicator of countries’ development, this was not the purpose for which it was conceived. Therefore, it does not adequately reflect desired aspects related to sustainable development, such as environmental sustainability, social inequalities or respect for human rights.
Meanwhile, Marco Lavagna, Director of Argentina’s INDEC, affirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic posed major challenges in terms of how to continue producing and disseminating statistics, which allowed for accelerating processes that perhaps would have taken many more years to complete, such as the incorporation of new technologies.
“The pandemic forced us to be more flexible and to adapt,” he stated, highlighting the relevance of cooperation and exchange among the distinct statistics offices of the region’s countries.
Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the UN Statistics Division, underscored that every crisis is an opportunity and the challenges are big.
“The demand for good data information is bigger and bigger. We are on the path to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and amid a war in Ukraine, and we have big challenges such as climate change,” he indicated.
During the twenty-first meeting of the Executive Committee of the Statistical Conference of the Americas of ECLAC, authorities will review recent experiences carrying out population censuses in the region's countries and will analyze the outlook in countries that will conduct them soon.
They will also examine progress on implementation of the Biennial Programme of Regional and International Cooperation Activities 2022–2023.
In the framework of the meeting, a seminar will be held on measuring development Beyond GDP, where participants will address the various statistical challenges related to improving GDP measurement and the production of complementary indicators to account for economic, social and environmental development.
Furthermore, presenters will unveil the document “Breaking the statistical silence to achieve gender equality by 2030,” as a joint contribution by the Regional Conference on Women and the Statistical Conference of the Americas for strengthening the production of information on gender inequalities that, with regard to the statistical arena, will constitute an input for building methodological guides that contribute to producing gender statistics and indicators of greater comparability, relevance and timeliness.
Along with Argentina, which is serving as Chair, the Statistical Conference of the Americas’ Executive Committee in the 2022-2023 biennium is made up of Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Italy and Jamaica.