New York, 13 July 2020:
Recognizing that evidence-based data is a critical enabler not only for responding to the health emergency posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also for ensuring access to routine health services and social protection for the poorest and most vulnerable, and supporting jobs for the locals and the returnees, the panelists stressed the vital importance of “Data revolution” for Covid response and recovery. Titled “Accelerating Post COVID Recovery Using Data Revolution”, the virtual event was co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN in New York, Ministry of Foreign Affairs andA2i programme of Government of Bangladesh, Government of Somalia, UN agencies, and Future of Work Lab Bangladesh. H.E. Ms. Rabab Fatima, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations in New York chaired the event held on 13 July 2020 on the margins of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF).
In her opening and welcome remarks, Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative (PR) of Bangladesh to the UN, said, “As we are fighting the pandemic, the importance of scientific evidence has become more significant than ever, so has been the collection and analysis of data – not only for being informed of what’s happening, but very importantly to suggest evidence-based response and timely actions for recovery”. Speaking at the event, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen highlighted the multidimensional challenges emanating from the COVID-19 crisis across the world. Referring to the specific challenges faced by Bangladesh, he observed, “like many migrant sending countries, Bangladesh is now facing the challenge of returning migrants as the economy is badly hit in many host countries. The health Pandemic coupled with the dwindling oil prices have rendered many people jobless. By collecting, processing, and using this data of these returnees, we can appropriately reskill them, and also can help reintegrate them in a sustainable manner”.
Mr. Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor of Aspire to Innovate (a2i), a Government for Bangladesh program, delivered the keynote speech at the event. He shared some good practices in utilizing data for tackling the COVID-19 in Bangladesh, namely, identification of possible hot zones of COVID-19 infections, provision of tele-health services, creation of a database of more than 5 million people who are in need for cash transfer, designing post-COVID skills and employment response, and whole of Government data integration for effective policy response. Among other speakers, Dr. Denis Nkala, Regional Coordinator (Asia and Pacific), UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) shared how his office was playing the important role in supporting the efforts of the developing South in the response and recovery phase of the crisis.
A rich panel discussion took place immediately after the keynote. The panel included, among others, Mr Abdirahim Muudey, representative of Somalia, Mr. Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, Professor of Economics, Yale University, Mr. Robert Opp of UNDP, Mr. Vincenzo Aquaro of UNDESA, Ms. Gemma Van Halderen of UNESCAP, Mr. Niall O’ higgins of ILO, Mr. Paul Meyer of The Commons Project and Ms. Caroline Buckee of Harvard Public Health School. The panelists while highlighting the need for transformative actions on how data could be used to strike a balance between life and livelihood, also focused on the different elements of data revolution and acknowledged that timely, usable data is critical to informed decision-making, and meaningful international cooperation for effective utilization of data, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Abdirahim Muudey shared his country’s experience including introducing virtual training classes to ensure the development of post Covid skills.
Mr. N M Zeaul Alam, Senior Secretary, ICT Division, Government of Bangladesh, in his closing remarks, highlighted the need for transformative approach for sharing data related experience. He further stressed the need to establish a “common data sharing platform” at local and global levels. The insights, views and ideas exchanged at the Virtual event is expected to inform all relevant stakeholders necessary understanding in their efforts towards accelerating post COVID recovery, and assessing its impact on social, economic and other aspects, as well as achieving SDGs.
The panel discussion was followed by Q&A session. Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Bangladesh PR moderated both the panel discussion and Q&A session.