Message from Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment, Ryan Straughn for Caribbean Statistics Day, October 15
Caribbean Statistics Day is celebrated on October 15 every year. It is an occasion where Statisticians around the region promote the importance of collecting and using evidence-based data to inform policy formulation and decision making, not only in the public and private sectors at the national level, but also by other users, in regional and international organisations.
The cooperation of respondents in surveys is of utmost importance, as surveys are one of the main activities for collecting data about our populations. For timely and reliable survey results, it is important for us to fully respond to and cooperate with our statistical offices.
The theme for this year’s Caribbean Statistics Day is: One Voice, One CARICOM, Everyone Counts.
This theme reminds us that we should listen to the voice of everyone in our community. Understanding the dynamics of our individual populations helps us to better unite as one Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Hence, statistics can be considered as the voice of the people. It tells the story of our people. When used effectively, it can ensure that sustainable development policies and projects are targeted to the needs of people.
At the national level, the support of our population (whether individual persons or individual businesses) is vital for the statistical units in our ministries and agencies to effectively collect reliable and accurate data.
This is the message to be driven home in the consciousness and understanding of our Barbadian community. Without access to data and information about ourselves, the statistical office cannot compile and disseminate reliable information on our people and our communities.
During the year, Barbados prepared a Voluntary National Review for monitoring our achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This VNR Report was presented at the July 2023 session of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, in New York, United States of America. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development invited countries to prepare VNRs to facilitate the sharing of their national experiences, including their successes, challenges, and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating implementation of the SDGs.
Barbados outlined its major SDG initiative: i.e. The Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) Plan 2.0. The Plan aims to place the country’s economy on a path towards strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth, while safeguarding the financial and social sectors. Vulnerabilities to prevailing crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, energy and food insecurity along with the global cost of living issues, posed challenges to sustainable development in Barbados, according to the main messages presented.
It was evident that the data gathering process was hindered over the past three years, by the occurrence and re-emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and its various mutations.
However, we have to gather the information to inform the production of future VNRs and to allow for the monitoring of our progress in the achievement of the SDGs by 2030.
It is important for our residents to recognise that we are also a part of the wider Caribbean Community. As such, our national statistics are needed for the compilation of similar evidence-based data and statistics at the regional level.
Consequently, it is necessary to harmonise the data gathering methodologies used in the region for the compilation of statistics, using common classification systems. This process would ensure comparability of our national data series with those of other countries in our Caribbean region. Therefore, to compile CARICOM statistics, it is necessary to strengthen the organisation of our national data collection systems, which produce national or official statistics.
As Barbadian residents, we must see the whole picture from a national and regional perspective. Evidence-based data are the keys to making effective policy decisions for sustainable development. Today, we acknowledge the contributions that statistical staff make to ensure that data compiled reflects the human-side of the stories told; that is, what is happening behind the numbers. This information ultimately improves lives and livelihoods, as well as facilitate the rights of all of us.
We join with the rest of our region in recognising Caribbean Statistics Day 2023.