Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear guests. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you at the IAOS conference as part of the first World Statistical Day. The World Statistical Day is certainly a very important opportunity for the official statisticians to raise the attention of its users, as well as for other stakeholders, especially those providing the sources. Celebrating the World Statistics Day all around the world will contribute to the recognition and development of official statistics. Sharing the knowledge on methodological issues on the one hand and building and sustaining the statistical systems at the national and international level, on the other hand, have been a constant challenge. Our contribution to the celebration of the World Statistics Day is the Workshop on the Governance of Statistical Systems that took place yesterday and this Conference with a special plenary session dedicated to the discussion of recent revisions of the ISI Declaration of Professional Ethics. You are kindly invited to the session which will start at 13. hours today. Later this day we will also hear a message dedicated to the World Statistics Day from Paul Cheung, Director of the United Nations Statistics Division. Dear ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure to welcome you at this conference on behalf of IAOS. The International Association for Official Statistics, IAOS, is the peak international body for official statistics. It brings together the users and producers of official statistics. The objectives of IAOS are to promote the understanding and advancement of official statistics and related subjects; and to foster the development of effective and efficient official statistical services, particularly in developing countries. IAOS organizes conferences and meetings focusing on multiple aspects and problems of official statistics. It strives to promote dynamic, innovative and professional cooperation. In addition, it is very important for the IAOS to give young statisticians the opportunity to benefit from professional exchanges within a "free-thinking environment". The current number of IAOS member from Latin America is rather small and we hope that this conference will inspire many of you to join us. I am happy to greet you here in this wonderful country. One can not select a better place for a conference on the environment than a country that stretches from the desert in the north to eternal snow in the south, through valleys, forests, mountains, rivers, volcanoes, lakes, islands, glaciers and channels. The country for which the world famous poet Pablo Neruda once claimed: “Anyone who hasn't been in the Chilean forest doesn't know this planet.” How special are the people of Chile we all admired during the rescue operation where the President, Mr. Pinera said: “We are united, committed and that is the example for the whole world”. I wish that such a strong spirit will also be the driving force behind the success of our conference. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our host the National Statistics Institute of Chile for their kind invitation and excellent organization of the conference. Besides all the people involved in the preparation of this conference, there are three persons I would like to mention in particular: Bianca Szecowka from INE Chile, Peter Harper (from ABS Australia) and Mojca Suvorov (from the Slovenian Statistical Office). While Bianca played the main role in linking everyone in terms of organization, Peter and Mojca together with the Conference Programme Committee prepared the scientific program and the logistic of the papers. I am happy to welcome all participants at this conference despite the restrictions caused by global financial crisis. We are faced with many challenges on account of the crisis. The easiest way would be to focus only on the basic needs and disregard the environment. But we cannot and must not forget the environment. Therefore, I am pleased that two years ago we selected the “official statistics and the environment” for the theme of this conference. I believe that this conference is held at the right moment and that its main themes reflect the circumstances in the global society. We can say without a doubt that climate change is high on the political agenda at all levels. The involvement of the national statistical offices in the green house gas inventories compilation varies greatly. Some national statistical offices provide all the official estimates required, while others only serve as the providers of basic data or have no activities related to this topic. There is an on- going debate on how official statistics can contribute to the measurement and monitoring of the different aspects of climate change. The key challenge is to establish a coherent framework for the development of environmental statistics. It is equally important to develop consistent definitions and classifications. Statistical knowledge about the classifications is invaluable and, for that reason, the cooperation beyond the statistical borders is all the more important. This conference will present challenges to develop a standard for environmental information. We will also discuss how to achieve the integration of information and why this integration is important. Another challenge that we are facing is how to timely disseminate environmental data, yet assuring all the quality standards. The Internet and modern computer tools give us unlimited possibilities to publish and present data to the community. The question is: should we draw a distinction between official statistical data and data that are the result of monitoring, estimations and modeling by different agencies and research institutes? Or is it better to ensure that statistical and non-statistical data complement and upgrade one another to get more comprehensive information? When talking about the environment we also have to take into account the contribution of the environment to the economy and the impact of the economy on the environment. The tools to monitor these interactions are environmental indicators, the indicators of sustainable development and the integrated environmental and economic accounting. In the next two days, we will discuss the measurement of sustainable development, well fare and well being. The development of society from a broader perspective is the focus of the statistical community today. This issue has been dealt with in very important documents , such as the Stiglitz-Sen-Fittoussi report, the EU project on “GDP and Beyond”, the OECD project on “Measuring the Progress of Societies”, as well as the Task Force on Measuring Sustainable Development (UNECE/Eurostat/OECD). We are happy to host experts with extensive experience in this field at this conference, the experts who play the leading role in some of the aforementioned projects. Dear participants, the programme of this conference reflects the diversity of environmental issues. The work of the conference is organized in plenary sessions with key speakers, in sessions with presentations and panel discussions. All sessions will also provide time for discussion. With discussions we would like to follow one of the objectives of the IAOS: to be a dynamic and innovative association; to be an "unofficial" forum that allows official statisticians to develop informal exchanges and free discussion on new challenges, emerging issues and new methods of work. I would like to conclude with thank to the European Free Trade Association, International Statistical Institute, The World Bank and the United Nations Statistical Division for their important support. I wish you all an informative, enjoyable and inspiring conference.
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