Statistical and Data Literacy in Policy-Making

Presented at: 7 December 2022; 09:00 UTC

Webinar duration: 90 minutes

Presenter(s): Reija Helenius, Steve MacFeely, Walter Radermacher, Giulio Sabbati, Milo Schield, Katharina Schüller, Gaby Umbach

The webinar is organized by the International Statistical Literacy Project (ISLP), a project that aims to advance statistical literacy worldwide. The webinar is based on the SJIAOS special stream on Statistical and Data Literacy in Policy-Making (Vol 38, No. 2, 2022). As the publication did, the webinar offers conceptual reflections on statistical and data literacy in policy-making. In their presentations, the contributing authors reflect on the relevance of the use of statistics and data in politics and highlight the impact of both on policy-making. They underline the need for statistical and data literacy in policy-making and identify key elements of it. They also elaborate on how statistical and data literacy in policy-making is specific. The individual contributions to the SJIAOS special stream originate from the ISI World Statistics Congress 2021 Invited Paper Session on ‘Statistical and Data Literacy in Policy-Making’.

Link to webinar video

Link to Statistical Journal of the IAOS - Volume 38, issue 2

Reija Helenius slides

Gaby Umbach slides

Walter Radermacher slides

Katharina Schüller slides

Milo Schield slides


  • Reija Helenius, Group Leader, Director | Statistics Finland & International Statistical Literacy Project
  • Steve MacFeely, Director of Data and Analytics | WHO & ISLP
  • Walter Radermacher, Professor | Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich & Chair of the ISI Advisory Board on Ethics & President | FENStatS: “Statistical Awareness Promoting a Data Culture”
  • Giulio Sabbati, Head of Statistical and Data Visualisation Support Office | European Parliamentary Research Service: “Statistical and Data Literacy: A Practitioner’s View on Policy-making: How to provide independent, objective and authoritative data and information for policy-making”
  • Milo Schield, Statistical Literacy Consultant | University of New Mexico: “Statistical Literacy: Seven Simple Questions for Policymakers”
  • Katharina Schüller, CEO & founder | StatUp & Board member | German Statistical Society: “Data and AI Literacy for Everyone”
  • Gaby Umbach, Part-time Professor, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies | European University Institute: “Statistical and data literacy in policy-making"

Presenter bios

Reija Helenius works as a Group Leader in Statistics Finland. One of her duties is the promotion of statistical literacy. She collaborates with a wide network of different agents, such as a number of educational institutions. Reija Helenius has also been a member of Eurostat’s Digicom project, coordinating Finland’s national Statistics Olympics. Since 2010, Reija Helenius has been the director of the International Statistical Literacy Project. She is an ISI elected member and a member of IASE and IAOS. She is also the chairperson of Tietojohtaminen ry (The Finnish Society for Knowledge Management). She is also an active member of the Finnish Statistical Society.

Steve MacFeely is the Director of Data and Analytics for the World Health Organization and the Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Policy Studies in University College Cork, Ireland. Before working in the WHO, Steve was the Head of Statistics & Information at the United Nation Conference for Trade and Development in Geneva, UNCTAD, as well as the Assistant Director-General at the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in Ireland and was a member of the Oversight Board of the new Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service. He established the “Professional Diploma in Official Statistics & Policy Evaluation” at the Institute of Public Administration in Ireland and played a central role in launching the ISLP competition in Ireland. He has published over a dozen papers in peer reviewed journals covering a range of topics including family business, cross-border shopping, productivity, tourism, input-output, regional policy and data infrastructure.

Walter Radermacher is Honorary Professor of the Institute for Statistics of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. He is also Chair of the Advisory Board on Ethics of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) and President of the Federation of European National Statistical Societies (FENStatS). He studied business economics in Aachen and Münster and obtained his PhD in Statistical Sciences from Sapienza University, Rome. From 1975, he was member of the academic staff in economic mathematics and operations research at the University of Münster. He started his career at the Federal Statistical Office of Germany in 1978. During the nineties, he set up the environmental economic accounting which brought him wide international acknowledgement. In 2003, Walter Radermacher is named Vice-president of the Federal Statistical Office and became its President in 2006.

During the German 2007 Presidency of the Council of the EU, he was in charge of the Working Group for Statistics. He was the first chair of the UN Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA) from 2005 to 2008. Between 2008 and 2016 he has been Director General of Eurostat and Chief Statistician of the European Union.

Giulio Sabbati is the Head of the Statistical and Data Visualisation Support Office in the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), where he coordinates a team of statisticians and graphic designers to provide infographics for EP research. He has worked for the EPRS since its creation in 2013, as a statistician/infographic designer. He joined the Parliament in 2010 as a library statistician, after having spent several years in private data-research companies, where he gained all-round experience in development and management of databases, data research, data analysis and data presentation. His has a degree in statistics and informatics from Universitá degli studi di Trieste in Italy.

Milo Schield is Statistical Literacy Consultant with the University of New Mexico. He has a PhD from Rice University. He is a fellow at the American Statistical Association, an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, the US representative of the International Statistical Literacy Project, the author of over 100 papers on statistical literacy (with over a thousand citations) and the author of a textbook "Statistical Literacy: Seeing the Story behind the Statistics."

Katharina Schüller is CEO and founder of STAT-UP Statistical Consulting & Data Science GmbH. As a board member of the German Statistical Society, she is responsible for the topic of “Statistical Literacy” and is the author of numerous publications, including the study “A Framework for Data Literacy” and the “Data Literacy Charter” for the German Stifterverband. She advises renowned companies, scientific institutions, and the public sector on data and analytics strategies. She is a member of various advisory boards in business and politics and chairs the advisory board of the Institut für wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung at the FernUniversität in Hagen. She focuses on data literacy, data ethics and data culture.

Gaby Umbach is Part-time Professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies of the European University Institute (EUI). At the Robert Schuman Centre , she leads the Global Governance Programme’s research area on ‘Knowledge, Governance, Transformations’. Moreover, she is Co-Principal of the EUI’s Interdisciplinary Research Cluster on ‘Crisis of Expert Knowledge and Authority’. She is non-resident Visiting Fellow of the European Parliamentary Research Service and Adjunct Professor at the Universities of Innsbruck and LUISS Guido Carli/CIFE. She is academic advisor and author of the Enlightenment 2.0 programme of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and involved in the ESPAS Futurium Expert Group on Horizon Scanning. Since 2022, she is Associate Editor of Cambridge University Press’ Data & Policy and Area Chair for ‘Policy Frameworks, Governance and Management of Data-driven Innovations’ of the Data for Policy Community. She is Book Review Editor of the Journal of Common Market Studies, Editorial Board member of the International Journal Evaluation and Program Planning, and Board member of the Institute for European Politics in Berlin. Her research focuses on the interaction between knowledge, evidence, data, and governance. She analyses how governance by and of knowledge influence transformations of politics and policies. This includes the analysis of measuring and the use of statistics as governance technique; data-based governance; data and evidence literacy in policy-making; evidence-informed policy-making; multilevel and anticipatory governance: socio-economic as well as eco-social policies: and sustainable development.