IISD Evaluates Countries’ Selection of SDG Indicators
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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IISD's SDG Indicator Portal provides a visual summary of the indicators reported by nine countries, per SDG.

A briefing note on the tool indicates that, overall, 65% of the indicators reported by nine countries were found to be the same as those suggested by the SDG framework, 22% were similar to those suggested by the framework, and the remaining 13% were different from the indicators suggested by the SDG indicator framework.

June 2017: The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has developed a “data on data” tool to help track SDG indicator reporting. The tool is initially based on the Voluntary National Reports (VNRs) that nine countries (Finland, Germany, Georgia, Mexico, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Switzerland, Venezuela, and Uganda) submitted to the 2016 session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The online tool is described in a briefing note titled, ‘Indicator Preferences in National Reporting of Progress Toward the Sustainable Development Goals.’ The authors, Livia Bizikova and Laszlo Pinter, write that the tool aims to allow users to explore which indicators are being used by which countries and how countries’ selected indicators align with the global indicator framework for the SDGs. Bizikova and Pinter note that this comparison is instructive because, given indicators’ key role in implementation, “the use of indicators is itself an indicator of the degree of policy commitment to implementing the SDGs.”

The tool provides a visual summary of the indicators reported by the nine countries, by SDG. The tool also reveals the degree to which countries have selected indicators that match those included in the SDG indicator framework developed under the auspices of the UN Statistical Commission. According to Bizikova and Pintner, the SDGs that are most included in country reporting cover social and economic dimensions of sustainable development, such as good health and well-being (SDG 3), and decent work and economic growth (SDG 8). The least-reported indicators track environmental issues, such as life below water (SDG 14) and life on land (SDG 15), as well as responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).

Overall, 65% of the indicators reported were found to be the same as those suggested by the SDG framework, and 22% were similar to those suggested by the framework. The remaining 13% were different from the indicators suggested by the SDG indicator framework.

Bizikova and Pinter offer three preliminary recommendations, based on the nine-country analysis: countries should build up their SDG reporting capacities and practice based on their existing systems of measurement, while taking into account the global SDG framework; countries could complement global metrics with national indicators related to key national issues when global metrics are not available; and indicators should cover all 17 SDGs, not just those that are easiest or most convenient to measure. [IISD’s SDG Indicator Portal] [Indicator Preferences in National Reporting of Progress Toward the Sustainable Development Goals]

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