The importance of statistics marked by United Nations Organizations in Vienna for the first Observance of World Statistics Day
VIENNA, 13 October - Today three of the United Nations agencies based in Vienna along with the Austrian national statistics office began the celebrations to mark the forthcoming World Statistics Day (20 October 2010) with the official opening of an exhibition on statistics at the Vienna International Centre (VIC).
Speaking at the event the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) and Executive Director of UNODC Yury Fedotov said statistics showed us where we are making progress and where we need to do more and were a "powerful tool to accelerate development, to improve the lives of people, to protect the environment and to fight against global threats and challenges".
Designated by the United Nations General Assembly, World Statistics Day which will be internationally marked for the first time on 20 October 2010, highlights the importance of statistics in shaping our societies. Mr. Fedotov commented that only people who were in love with numbers could have chosen such a day - 20/10/2010. He spoke of the importance of UNODC statistics to understand how the illicit drug market evolves and to measure criminal activity around the world. "The information we provide drives national, regional and international debates and policies on tackling drugs and crime," he said.
The exhibition at the Vienna International Centre (VIC) presents the variety of statistical information, publications and services produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Office for Drug and Crime (UNODC) together with Statistics Austria, the Austrian national statistical office.
The Director-General of UNIDO, Kandeh K. Yumkella, said that statistics were at the core of UNIDO's work. He gave an example of how countries which have significantly reduced poverty have been able to grow at seven, nine or ten per cent, and to achieve those levels of growth they needed access to energy. Energy statistics on energy use and availability could help developing countries, he said.
Mr. Yumkella also spoke at how the VIC based UN organisations and agencies were trying to harmonise their efforts and work better together. At a recent meeting of the heads of the Vienna-based organizations he had joked that if UNIDO and the IAEA did not do their work properly then it made more work for UNODC because the criminals took over the world.
The Director of the IAEA's Division of Nuclear Power, Jong Kyun Park, on behalf of the Director General the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, said that at the IAEA good statistics was essential for getting things right whether it was the right radiation dose when treating cancer, excellent quality control at a nuclear power plant or the statistics about nuclear power to help policymakers and the public make well-informed decisions. "Good statistics and the men and women who produce them deserve to be celebrated," he said.
Also speaking at the opening of the exhibition was the Director of "Population Statistics" at Statistics Austria (STAT) and President of the Austrian Statistical Society, Werner Holzer. He talked about how the official statistics produced by Statistics Austria were used for national planning and also by international organizations such as the European Union, the UN and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Thanking the speakers, the Chief of Statistics and Surveys Section of UNODC, Angela Me said it was great to have their support for a profession based on impartiality, relevance and objectivity. She concluded with the words from one of the posters on display: there are lies, there are half truths but there are also transparent clean honest statistics.
The exhibition in the VIC to mark World Statistics Day highlights the many achievements of official statistics and the core values of service, integrity and professionalism in providing unbiased, transparent and relevant statistics to the public and the policy makers. It runs from 13-19 October and can be viewed as part of the guided tours of the VIC, organized by the United Nations Information Service Visitors Service.
The three United Nations agencies and Statistics Austria will also be holding an interagency seminar on contemporary statistics topics on 14 October in the VIC with speakers from all four organizations.
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