Expert meeting on the Oxford Martin Commission's Worldstat recommendation

27 May 2014

© David Fisher

A group comprising eminent academic and national statisticians as well as senior representatives of international organisations, foundations, and the media gathered at the Oxford Martin School on 22 May for an exploratory workshop discussing how to progress the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations’ ‘Worldstat’ recommendation. The workshop was organised by Professor Sir Tony Atkinson of the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School and chaired by Sir Andrew Dilnot, Warden of Nuffield College and Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority. Nobel Laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz, having delivered an Oxford Martin School Distinguished Public Lecture earlier the same day, participated in the meeting.

Now for the Long Term, the report of the Oxford Martin Commission, was launched in October 2013 and since then has been downloaded almost one million times and discussed in workshops and events in five continents. The Commissioners are keen to foster action on the 15 recommendations included within the report. These include the creation of an organisation, provisionally called Worldstat, to undertake quality control of global statistics, assess domestic practices, regulate misuse, and improve data collection.

As Commission Vice-Chair and Director of the Oxford Martin School Professor Ian Goldin commented in his opening remarks at the workshop, Worldstat is one of the recommendations that has attracted particular interest and attention. Outlined in broad terms in the Commission report, the purpose of the initial workshop was to discuss in greater detail whether there is a role for Worldstat, and what the first steps could be in making Worldstat a reality. The workshop comprised three thoughtful and lively sessions. Participants agreed that there is a compelling need for some form of global body that can act as an advocacy organisation for trustworthy, accessible, and useful statistics. The workshop constituted a launch-pad for the beginning of a discussion which is to be carried forward by a number of the participants in the coming months.