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Opinion Piece

The relationship between statistics and sustainable development

At Stats4SD, we’re keen to share our knowledge and resources, particularly when it comes to providing work experience and inviting Interns into our team. In this blog, Alejandra writes first-hand about her week at Stats4SD, and her experience of what we do.

I usually don’t spend my summers inside an office, but this summer I decided to do a week’s work experience at Stats4SD.

At first, I didn’t quite understand what it was all about. I only knew that the people who work at Stats4SD are statisticians. But in a week of reading and listening, I found out what everyone does, and I was able to see how passionate and driven they are about their work.

In 2015, the United Nations (UN) released the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that countries should aim to meet by 2030. There are two words that seemed familiar to me: Sustainable and Development. If they aren’t familiar to you, I would recommend taking a second look at what the “SD” in Stats4SD stands for. It’s not just a cool name!

By reading the name and the first few sentences of the Stats4SD document that outlines their principles, I knew that they supported the SDGs. Yet I didn’t know what they actually did. All I could think about was: where does statistics come in when talking about sustainable development?

I hope I can answer this question now, because it’s a no-brainer when you understand the work that Stats4SD does for its clients.

So, first things first: Stats4SD is a social enterprise driven by the concern about people and the planet. Which is why they are not-for-profit, because it’s not about making money.

Stats4SD works with various organisations around the world, in a variety of sectors. The team’s contribution to the SDGs is by supporting organisations that need to evaluate the impact of their projects. With the collection and interpretation of data that Stats4SD offers, its clients are able to understand their impact on people and the planet.

Once again, where do statistics come in when talking about sustainable development? Well, everywhere really!

But the team’s work doesn’t stop there…

Apart from the hours that they spend in front of the computer, crunching numbers and writing documents, they are walking to Nairobi[1]. At first, I thought they were actually walking to Nairobi (it sounded a bit too crazy for me!). But they are actually counting the steps they do each day and adding them together until they’ve covered the distance from Reading to Nairobi (as of writing of this, they are in mid-France!). And it’s not only for fun because Stats4SD will be donating to a staff-nominated charity when they complete the challenge.

Sitting at the corner desk for a week has given me a broader sense of what Stats4SD is about. Quality over quantity, people say. I agree… It’s a small team like this one that cares about what they do, that welcomes an eighteen-year-old to sit with them and observe – and that, when the summer heat inside the office is a bit too much, decides to buy ice cream for everyone!


By Alejandra Barahona





Author: Stats4SD

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