National statistical offices (NSOs) are at the forefront when it comes to measuring progress with SDGs as they provide data for a large number of indicators. However, many of the SDG indicators pertain to areas that have never before been addressed by official statistics, which is why neither the respective data nor the measurement concepts and methodologies are available. Furthermore, even for those indicators where the statistical production would be feasible, the statistical capacities are not necessarily developed.
Estimations point out that all UNECE member countries might be able to produce currently only one third of the indicators, with even developed countries being able to provide only half of the indicators.50 In cases where missing expertise is the source of such deficiencies, statistical capacity building is one answer to overcome this situation.
The Statistical Office of the EuropeanFree Trade Association (EFTA) provides technical support to the NSOs from numerous countries, especially in the regions of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, North Africa and the Near East and EU Candidate Countries.The ultimate goal of these statistical technical cooperation activities is to enable NSOs to produce reliable, high quality and timely indicators that are inline with international methodologies and standards.
Over the last years, the EFTA Statistical Office has organised around 40 training courses and workshops for the staff of national statistical offices of beneficiary countries in collaboration with the national statistical offices of the EFTA Member States and UNECE, contributing mainly to SDG 17 on partnerships for the Goals, but also to several other SDGs. Examples of training course topics include the following:
Compiling price indices (contributing to SDG 2)
National accounts (contributing to SDG 8)
Organisation of business registers and geographical information
Environmental accounting (contributing to SDGs 13, 14 and 15)
Combination of data sources
Statistical production with the software “R”
Vital statistics (contributing to SDG 3)
Climate change related statistics (contributing to SDG 13)
Furthermore, the training courses provided in specific statistical areas enable beneficiary countries to provide more and better data for monitoring of the SDGs.
In addition to training courses aiming at the improvement of statistical capacities, the EFTA Statistical Office has – in cooperation with other international partners like Eurostat, UNECE or the UNSD – organised numerous seminars and conferences for different levels of management of NSOs addressing organisational and strategic issues in the production of official statistics that contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.
EFTA technical cooperation courses with relevance to SDGs