Policy Support and Governance Gateway

Data for Policy

In today’s data-driven world, policy-makers rely more than ever on accurate information and analysis to make informed decisions. Yet, missing and poor-quality data can hamper the design of successful policies – thus, jeopardizing the achievement of the SDGs.

Sound statistics are key to design evidence-based policies to address the challenges of today’s food systems – from hunger to climate change. FAO is committed to collecting, collating, analyzing, disseminating food and agriculture statistics.

By providing free access to reliable data, the Organization helps to make informed policy decisions and supports civil society, the private sector and policy practitioners to undertake evidence-based research. 

FAO supports countries to develop and improve statistical systems to better design, implement, monitor and evaluate policies and programmes. 

Being the custodian agency of 21 SDGs indicators, FAO helps countries to improve their statistical capacities on SDGs monitoring and helps the measurement, dissemination and use of indicators, to achieve SDGs targets.

Key policy messages

·        Data production and dissemination
Access to up-to-date and reliable data and information is key for evidence-based policy-making. FAO collects relevant statistical information through country questionnaires on agriculture, food security and a number of related topics The acquired data can be found and accessed through several platforms. The largest one is FAOSTAT – a freely accessible global database on food and agricultural statistics. Through interactive data visualization, filtering and data tools, FAOSTAT provides access to more than 20,000 indicators on food and agriculture from over 245 countries and territories.

Find more information here: Data dissemination

·        Standards, classifications and methodology development of statistical tools
The work of policy-makers and practitioners relies on international food and agricultural statistical standards as well as on universal methods for collecting, analyzing and disseminating data. FAO promotes international consistency and comparability of statistics across countries – including the set-up and maintenance of platforms to improve a common approach for statistical information worldwide. In an effort to standardize relevant information on food and agricultural statistics, FAO provides national statistical offices with up-to-date and internationally recognized definitions, concepts and classifications.

Find more information here: Methods and Standards

·        Capacity development to member countries
FAO supports statistical capacity development initiatives on various thematic areas - which primarily aim to strengthen member countries’ statistical systems and to produce and disseminate reliable and timely data. Moreover, capacity development improves the quality and quantity of the data disseminated by FAO through FAOSTAT. Capacity development activities include: support in calculating and monitoring the SDGs indicators, planning and training on various thematic areas (e.g., data collection, data dissemination, data use, food and nutrition measurement, design, implementation and analysis of agricultural censuses and surveys, development and compilation of national food balances) and providing technical assistance to apply the statistical methodologies.

Find more information here: Statistical capacity development

·        Governance issues regarding data for policy
On the road to 2030, sound and timely statistical data on food and agriculture supports policy-makers to make informed decisions, shape more accurate policies and to invest in sound policies, investments and actions. Working in close collaboration with national statistical offices and relevant line ministries, FAO is committed to continue to improve its capacity to collect, process, validate, harmonize, analyze data, generate and disseminate accurate and timely information, providing policy-makers and society with the information they need.

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