Calling Data ‘the Bedrock of a Sustainable Future’, Secretary-General Urges Forum to Turbocharge Its Transformative Power, Accelerate Progress on 2030 Agenda

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the opening of the United Nations World Data Forum, held in Hangshou from 24 to 27 April:

Welcome to the fourth United Nations World Data Forum.  My thanks to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for hosting this important event.

Today, in the twenty-first century, data represents what oil represented in the twentieth century — a driver of development and progress.  This Forum highlights the great value of timely, open and high-quality data — from the daily decisions that Governments make to the investments that support economies, jobs and health and education systems to our ability to make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and build the peaceful and prosperous future that every person deserves.

Data and statistics make all this easier.  Three years ago, we launched the United Nations Data Strategy to build more data expertise across the UN system and create more innovative ecosystems that unlock the full potential of data for the betterment of people and planet alike.

The Strategy also sparked inspiring initiatives like Data4Now and Citizen Generated Data to allow people and communities to gather and take control of the data affecting their daily lives.

But we must continue pressing forward.  Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals has stalled — even reversed — as we reach the halfway point of the 2030 Agenda.  This Forum is a key opportunity to turbocharge the transformative power of data and accelerate progress at this critical moment.

Throughout, we need to continue working to ensure that companies and States alike respect our right to privacy and to own the personal data that we generate.  Data — when used responsibly — is the bedrock of a sustainable future.  Let’s find new ways to harness and apply this vital resource and shape a better tomorrow for all people.

For information media. Not an official record.