President's Column

Looking forward to WSC 2023 in Ottawa!

23 June 2023
wsc Ottawa

Of course, a lot of our energy has been going into the planning of the 64 th World Statistics Congress
at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa. It will be 60 years since the last WSC was held in Ottawa in 1963!

As you will have seen, we have a very exciting scientific programme. We have some great speakers including my invited guest Bob Groves and we will be awarding the prestigious International Prize in Statistics to C R Rao. There is an Opening Reception and Gala Dinner, and Ottawa Tourism will be there to suggest things to do before and after the Congress.



Organising such a large statistical meeting is not without its challenges. We know that some of our delegates are still waiting for the Canadian Government to process their visa applications. A lesson there for us is to bring forward the timetable for the Scientific Programme meetings for future Congresses 

so that people can put their applications in earlier. Also, some delegates have had difficulty finding funding for their trip. Until three years ago ISI had access to the World Bank Trust Fund, but that has now come to an end. Funding agencies are giving higher priority to supporting countries with the aftermath of COVID and the impact of the war in Ukraine, and funding scientific conferences seems low on their priority list. I will say a little more later on how we are tackling this – though the benefit will be for future conferences, not for Ottawa.

For those able to come to Ottawa, it will be an excellent week – a chance to share knowledge, to learn, and to meet old friends. I hope if you are coming to Ottawa, you have your registration fee paid, your visa or ETA arranged, and your travel and hotel booked!

Revised Declaration on Professional Ethics

Members will have seen this on the ‘Communities’ platform where it was circulated for comment (you will have to log in via the ISI website to see this). The revised declaration addresses the increased use of so-called ‘big data’, administrative data especially linked data sets, and the availability of computationally heavy methods such as machine learning.

If you have any comments please give your reaction  in the item on the  Communities platform for others to see, and join the debate. The ISI’s Advisory Board on Ethics and the Executive Committee will be considering the comments made before finalising the Declaration.

A new ISI Academy?

An important part of our mission is to help develop the capacity of statisticians worldwide, and I am pleased with the work that our Capacity Building Committee has been doing over the last year, resulting in the current proposal for an ISI Academy. I have already referred to the need for us to attract the essential outside funding needed to support capacity building worldwide. The ISI Academy will be an important vehicle for this, and preliminary discussions with funders have been positive.

We will update you in Ottawa, but in the meantime please have a look at the document and let us have your comments on our Communities platform.

‘Twilight’ business sessions for members at WSC 2023

I want to draw your attention to three ‘twilight’ business sessions at the WSC. These will be held from 5.30 to 6.30 pm on Monday and Tuesday. They are primarily aimed at members to give them a chance to discuss ISI strategic activities at greater length and in person than is possible at the General Assembly. The two twilight meetings on Monday 17 July will be on our Public Voice activities and on Capacity Building (separate meetings held in parallel). The meeting on Tuesday 18th will be on Professional Ethics. And the ISI General Assembly is on Wednesday 19 July at 5.15 pm.

‘Communities’ platform

I have made several mentions of the Communities platform.  This is the ‘members only’ section of our website. You need to log in to access it, so if you have any problems with this, please contact the ISI Webmaster Katie Junasova:  [email protected]. We will be increasingly using Communities for member communications and discussions, and encouraging Associations, Special Interest Groups and Committees to use it too. 



If you are not a member of ISI and want to contribute to the many discussions members have, please consider joining here.

Future Regional Statistics Conferences (RSC)

The next RSC will be in Mexico City on 15-17 May 2024.  We are grateful to INEGI (the Mexican Statistics Office) for agreeing to host the conference, which will be a joint one with the IAOS. This is the second time we have held a joint conference with IAOS, following the very successful conference in Zambia in April this year, though this is not the beginning of a regular pattern. Both we and the IAOS are keen to hold separate conferences in future years. If you have proposals for future Regional Conferences, please let us know. In the meantime, please put the dates for WSC 2025 in The Hague, in your diary – 14 to 17 July 2025.

Looking forward to meeting up with everyone in Ottawa.



Stephen Penneck
ISI President