UNWDF 2021: Road to Bern UN World Data Forum in Bern mobilised experts to offer solutions for the 2030 Agenda

06.10.2021 - The UN World Data Forum 2021 (UNWDF) ended Wednesday 6 October in Bern with the adoption of the “Bern Data Compact for the Decade of Action on the Sustainable Development Goals”. This conference, held for the first time in a hybrid format, had a total of 7626 participants registered online, of whom 668 were present in Bern. The Minister of Home Affairs Alain Berset and the UN Secretary General António Guterres highlighted the importance of data to attain the 2030 Agenda.

Announced at the closing session of the UNWDF, the “Bern Data Compact for the Decade of Action on the Sustainable Development Goals” calls on the international community and national governments to ensure that all communities work together in the data ecosystem to secure many aspects related to the 2030 Agenda. There is also a call for action for accelerated action on the implementation of the Cape Town Global Action Plan. Finally, through a call for commitments, the need for the following is highlighted: develop data capacity; establish data partnerships and cultivate collective efforts on data to leave no one behind.

 “We will meet at future United Nations World Data Forums planned in early 2023 and late 2024 to renew our commitment to an open, innovative and practical partnership”, is underlined in the final document of the conference. 

Major steps of the events

During the Swiss press conference, the host of the Forum, Georges-Simon Ulrich (Director General FSO) explained why the Forum is central for Switzerland in the process of digitalisation. It was an opportunity to give a more detailed overview on the main developments currently ongoing in Switzerland in the field of data and statistics and to explain the new role of the FSO since the beginning of the year, data national management and the new data science centre.

After this introduction, Stefan Schweinfest (Director UN Statistics Division) explained the importance of the Forum from the UN perspective, gave an overview of the key moments as well as the contribution of participants in the Forum and presented the outcome document.

Then, Patricia Danzi of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) urged: “We must make sure governments have the information needed to take the right policy decisions and people the right information to hold them accountable”. Finally, Gérard Geiser (representing the 26 cantons of Switzerland) addressed the issue of the digital administration of Confederation and cantons and the need for active cooperation between the cantons and the federal government.

Sustainable conference

As one of the first major UN conferences after a longer break since March 2020, the UNWDF brought together various stakeholders. This was the first time that a UNWDF was organised in a fully sustainable way. The sustainability concept, develop with partners in Switzerland, showed that sustainable conferences are possible in a post-pandemic era. 

Among the registered participants, there was a good gender and regional distribution. Despite the current period and the pandemic, the international participation rate was 88%. On the one hand, the physical part of the UNWDF offered a time-efficient and an effective way to share thinking and expertise, while networking. On the other hand, the virtual part allowed everyone to take part to the UNWDF.

“Road from Bern”

As a reminder, as host of the third UN World Data Forum, the Swiss Confederation has seized this opportunity to launch the Road to Bern programme. The idea is that all the efforts put in place within the framework of Road to Bern and the UNWDF should not run out of steam when the Forum ends on 6 October but should continue. As recently designated, the next host destination of the Forum taking place in April 2023 will be the People's Republic of China.


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UN World Data Forum in Bern mobilised experts to offer solutions for the 2030 Agenda
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