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Indicator Preferences in National Reporting of Progress Toward the Sustainable Development Goals

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Indicator Preferences in National Reporting of Progress Toward the Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are intended to offer an ambitious and transformational agenda for our common future through 2030.

In this brief, we review countries’ voluntary reviews to the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) to identify the indicators that countries have actually been using in their reports to date, and data attached to those indicators. We are starting with nine countries (Finland, Germany, Georgia, Mexico, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Switzerland, Venezuela, Uganda) using their official reports submitted to the HLPF. The basic framework is:

  1. Countries that are producing reviews.
  2. Indicators included in each country’s review.
  3. Alignment of the included indicators in the country’s report with indicators suggested by the UN Statistical Commission to track progress with SDGs.

The SDG indicator set has been developed by national statistical agencies with the coordination of the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD).

Based on this study, the following three preliminary recommendations can be made. First, countries should build up their SDG reporting capacities and practice based on their existing systems of measurement, while taking into account the global guidance developed by UNSD. Second, while keeping as close as possible to the global SDG indicator system, they could also complement global metrics with national ones related to key national issues if no global metrics are available for them. And third, tracking progress should not leave blank spots—indicators should cover not only what is easy and convenient for policy, but also—and perhaps particularly—those issues such as sustainable consumption and production, which are conflicted, where entrenched interests may work against transparency or change, but that may lie at the heart of the SDG challenge.