Patrick Haverman: Opening Remarks at the launch of The Living Standards Dimension of the Human Development Index

Oct 17, 2016

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Mr. Li Hongyan, Executive Chairman, The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology China Huasheng Green Industry Foundation,

Mr. Zuo Changsheng, General Director, International Poverty Reduction Center in China,

Dr. Wang Xiaolin, Deputy Director-General, Information Centre of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development

Dr. Wu Haishan, Senior data scientist, Baidu Big Data Lab, Baidu Research,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good afternoon to you all!

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, I would like to welcome you all to the launch of the report, The Living Standards Dimension of the Human Development Index: Measuring Poverty with Big Data in China, where we are also celebrating the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, as well as China’s 3rd National Poverty Day.

Firstly, I want to thank Baidu and the Baidu Big Data Lab for their hard work and dedication to our collaboration on this report.

Furthermore I’d like to acknowledge our team of expert consultants: Mr. Li Shi, Professor, Beijing Normal University; Mr. Zhao Fuchang, Director of the Fiscal and National Governance Research Center, Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences, Ministry of Finance; Mr. Qiu Dongxiao, Professor, Data Science Research Institute, Tsinghua University; And Mr. Liu Wenkui, Secretary General, China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, who provided us with invaluable support and guidance. Thank you.

The Living Standards Index was designed as an alternative, comprehensive and innovative tool from which to review and track poverty to assist China’s efforts to lift its remaining 56 million poor people in rural China out of poverty by 2020, as well as contribute to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

To achieve the 17 SDGs we should take quick and decisive action to leave nobody behind, but at the same we need to constantly measure progress to adjust where needed and learn from our achievements and mistakes.

Never before in human history has so much information been generated on a daily basis, bringing with it a whole host of new possibilities.

UNDP has recognized the importance harnessing Big Data, and for the first time, have used it to measure and address the progress and challenges of China’s human development through this new report.

The dynamic, convenient and cost-effective information provided by big data analysis can improve poverty alleviation programs by helping to locate poor communities, identify effective poverty alleviation programs, track the progress and results of these programs and develop further understanding of the root causes of poverty.

Furthermore, it has the potential to complement existing data and together inform policy makers and the public about progress.

It is important to recognize that big data is no modern cure-all for development challenges. Several challenges and considerations with big data must be kept in mind. With the speed and the dynamic sources of data there is a possibility of an increasing margin of error. We call for inputs from all sectors to explore promising ways to strengthen big data’s application and together we can use the data to contribute to making the world a better place

We hope the Living Standards Index will serve not only as an invaluable insight into China’s poverty alleviation experiences and challenges, but also as a fundamental reference for both social practice in other developing countries and the understanding of the relationship between social innovation, big data and poverty reduction in general.

Ladies and Gentlemen, with the immense experience and expertise assembled here today, I am confident this report launch event will facilitate a very constructive exchange on how big data best fits into poverty alleviation in China and exploring promising ways to strengthen its application. I look forward to the fruitful discussions today.

Thank you!

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