IAEG Proposes 36 Major Changes to SDG Indicator Framework
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The IAEG-SDG agreed on 36 major changes to the current framework: 14 proposals for replacements of existing indicators; 8 proposals for revisions of existing indicators; 8 proposals for additional indicators; and 6 proposals for deleting existing indicators.

The report to the Statistical Commission also describes the IAEG’s efforts on data disaggregation and integration.

The UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the SDG Indicators has proposed 36 major changes to the global indicator framework for the SDGs, including eight additional indicators and six indicators to be deleted. Two of the additional indicators are for SDG target 10.7 on responsible and well-managed migration policies.

New indicators are proposed for improved measurement of the following SDG targets (see Annex II of the IAEG’s report for the indicator text):

  • SDG target 2.2, By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons;
  • SDG target 3.d, Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks;
  • SDG target 4.1, By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes;
  • SDG target 10.4, Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection polices, and progressively achieve greater equality;
  • SDG target 10.7, Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies (two new indicators proposed);
  • SDG target 13.2, Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning; and
  • SDG target 16.3, Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.

The proposals were generated through the 2020 Comprehensive Review process undertaken by the IAEG. The report of the Review has been submitted ahead of the 51st session of the UN Statistical Commission in March 2020. The Commission is invited to adopt the proposals of the Review.

The indicator framework developed by the IAEG was adopted in 2017. The Comprehensive Review aimed to improve the indicator framework and in turn global monitoring of the 2030 Agenda, and to provide better guidance to countries for their own national frameworks and reporting platforms. The Group kept changes as limited as possible in order to avoid disrupt existing monitoring systems or overburdening national statistical systems. The Group’s report to the Commission notes that “the Global Indicator Framework is designed to provide a global overview/summary of progress on implementing the SDGs and cannot contain all indicators relevant to the SDGs.” 

The Review process examined the entire global indicator framework. It was met with wide interest; during an open consultation in August 2019, over 600 inputs were received from organizations, countries and individuals.

After the IAEG’s tenth meeting, which convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in October 2019, the Group decided on a tentative initial list of proposals to be considered by the UN Statistical Commission in the 2020 Comprehensive Review, and held virtual meetings to finalize those proposals.

The IAEG-SDG agreed on 36 major changes to the current framework: 14 proposals for replacements of existing indicators; 8 proposals for revisions of existing indicators; 8 proposals for additional indicators (for the targets listed above); and 6 proposals for deleting existing indicators. The Group is also proposing 20 minor refinements, which can be seen in Annex III of the report to the Commission.

In addition to the update on the Comprehensive Review, the Group’s report to the Commission also provides an update on the status of the SDG indicators that are currently classified as ‘Tier III,’ which means they require further development before they will be included in global progress reports. In 2019, the Group identified several indicators for which sufficient progress had been made on their methodology, and moved them out of Tier III.

As an example, Indicator 4.7.1 on mainstreaming sustainability education, was moved from Tier III to Tier II, which will allow its custodian agency, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to begin collecting the data needed from countries in 2020, and results can be submitted for publication in 2021. UNESCO says this will “kick off the systematic, periodic, comprehensive, and official data collection on [sustainability and citizenship education] for the first time in the world.

As of 6 December 2019, 20 of 232 indicators remained in Tier III. All remaining Tier III indicators are supposed to have a work plan for the completion of their needed methodological work. Tier III indicators that lack a custodian agency and therefore a workplan were included in the 2020 Review, so that replacement indicators could be proposed.

For one Tier III indicator – 11.c.1 – the Group was unable to come up with a suitable replacement, despite “repeated consultations with UN Agencies, regional organizations and other interested stakeholders.” SDG indicator 11.c.1 is the “proportion of financial support to the least developed countries that is allocated to the construction and retrofitting of sustainable, resilient and resource-efficient buildings utilizing local materials.” This is the only indicator in the framework for measurement of SDG target 11.c, to “Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient building utilizing local materials.”

As a result, the Group writes, “this target has no suitable global indicator to monitor progress.” The Group encourages countries, international and regional organizations and stakeholders to attempt to monitor this target in whatever way they can identify that is relevant to their national, regional or thematic context.

An update on the reclassification of remaining Tier III indicators is expected to be provided orally when the report is introduced to the Commission in March. 

The report to the Statistical Commission also describes the IAEG’s efforts on data disaggregation and integration, and the proposed establishment and a work program of a working group to further develop and refine a measurement of support to developing countries that goes beyond Official Development Assistance (ODA), also known as TOSSD. The timeline is provided in Annex IV of the report.

As of IAEG 9, the cochairs are Viveka Palm, Sweden, and Albina Chuwa, Tanzania.

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