Date of Meeting: 08 Mar 2016

Meeting Organizer: United Nations Statistical Division

ISJC Staff Present: Luke Cozens

Reporter: Luke Cozens

Which SDG does this topic cover? 17

Type of meeting: Side Event on the Statistical Commission

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Mr. Lester Salamon, Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies noted a relatively recent and dramatic surge in private non-profit work and difficulties in measuring it due to ambiguities and diversity in actions, legal treatments, traditions and terminology. He noted that the standard national accounts system provided by the UN only capture a very small amount of the non-profit work done as they are only counted under NPISH (Non-Profit Institutions Serving Households) and not when they strictly fall under governmental, or corporate definitions. Recognizing the economic and policy importance of such work, Mr. Salamon pioneered the work on measuring non-profit institutions. He outlined seven steps of the process:

  1. A private research breakthrough in finding the “hidden” Non-Profit institutions (NPIs),
    consisting of:
    1. A consensus definition of NPIs that they are organizations, which are private (institutionally separate from government), do not distribute profits to directors/shareholders, are self-governing, and non-compulsory
    2. A documentation of the scale of such NPIs. The NPIs of the 41 countries studied would constitute the 5ht largest economy in the world if they were a country, NPIs take a large part of the economically active population and there is a large role for volunteers.
  2. Official recognition of this work in the UN handbook on NPIs and the System of National Accounts, calling for national statistical agencies to crate “satellite accounts” to specifically count NPIs and the value of volunteer work
  3. The 2008 revision of the System of National Accounts (SNA) which reinforced the above and encouraged NPIs to counted as a subsector of institutions and improved classifications
  4. Official embrace of the volunteer workforce in the International Labour Organisation “Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work” (2011)
    1. Providing a consensus definition of volunteer work including a cost valuation
    2. Creating a survey that could be used with annual Labour Force surveys
  5. (Underway) 2016 revision of the UN handbook incorporating 2008 SNA revision
    1. Including a proposed approach to measure the impact of NPIs on goals like the SDGs based on the ratio of successful outcomes to NPI share of the total
  6. (Underway) Move from NPIs to the Third Sector/Social Economy (TSE)
    1. Recognition that NPIs are not alone and cooperatives/mutual, social enterprises, and individual activity provide similar work
    2. Counting organizations as TSE if they meet the NPI definition except for the distribution of profits where there may be significant limitations rather than a full prohibition.
    3. Counting individual action as TSE when it is done for others, over a significant period of time, not for pay, only for those outside the household, and is non-compulsory.
  7. (Underway) Move from design to implementation. 30 countries use either the UN handbook or the ILO manual already.

Mr. Salamon concluded by saying that civil society is crucial for achieving the SDGs but that half of it is still invisible in the statistics although the data is still there. He called for help form national statistical agencies.

Ms. Helena Cordeiro, Vice President of Statistics Portugal outlined a case-study of how Portugal had carried out NPI/TSE measurement in 4 parts:

  1. They created a satellite account in 2010 using the UN handbook and EU equivalent and taking a multidimensional approach.
  2. They created a survey on volunteer work using the ILO manual and found that women volunteer significantly more than men.
  3. Passed Law 30.2013 which calls for regular production of the satellite account
  4. Identified current developments as: increased recognition/visibility of TSE, growing interest in impact measurement, high valuation of volunteer work; challenges due to cultural differences.

Ms. Naiara Costa, Beyond 2015 Advocacy Director said that civil society (CS) has been advocating for commitments to be measured as “what counts gets counted.” She noted that CS is not so used to advocating for statistics but that they are asking for disaggregation, counting of CS contributions and the ability for CSs to report back the work they have done. She said that CSs were about to be made visible within a major statistical system and that amazing work had been done to measure volunteers. She asked how NPIs could be engaged in the measurement process and highlighted a risk that data would be used for oppressive causes. She said there was a need for more awareness of this process with NPIs.

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

  • The work of TSE (of which The Salvation Army is considered part) is seen as crucial for the achievement of the SDGs and is being measured under new systems.

  • There is a growing interest in the work of TSE and a specific emphasis on measuring their impact.

  • Statistical systems are imperative for ensuring the SDGs are achieved and TSE needs to advocate both internationally and with national statistics agencies to ensure they are put in place. 

Tags: United Nations, Events, SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals