26 November 2019
Arab SDG Index Identifies SDGs 2 and 5 as Key Regional Challenges
Photo credit: Maid Milinkic
story highlights

Algeria, the UAE, Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan are the top five performers in the region, with a total index score of 65 or above.

The report highlights common regional challenges related to poor performance on sustainable food systems and gender equality.

There are several key features unique to the Arab Region Index, including 30 indicators selected to reflect regional challenges and priorities.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA) released the Arab Region SDG Index and Dashboard Report 2019, which ranks countries using green (SDG achievement), yellow (challenges remain), orange (significant challenges remain) and red (major challenges remain). The regional Index finds a wide range of sustainable development outcomes across the 22 Arab countries, with common challenges related to poor performance on SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 5 (gender equality).

The SDG Index ranks country performance on the SDGs from a score of 0 (worst outcome) to 100 (best outcome). The Arab region does not score high on SDG attainment, with an average score of 58 out of 100, and 19 countries in the region have not yet achieved a single SDG. In addition to challenges on SDG 2 and SDG 5, the report highlights challenges related to SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (clean and affordable energy), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). The report therefore calls for the region to accelerate efforts in all areas of sustainable development, including by: increasing efforts to end malnutrition; intensifying environmental efforts by converting to renewables and promoting sustainable agriculture and water efficiency; accelerating efforts to achieve gender equality; and increasing resources for science and technology.

Five countries emerged as regional leaders, with a total index score of 65 or above, indicating that these countries are approximately two-thirds of the way towards achieving the SDGs. These top performers are Algeria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan. Bahrain, Comoros, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen are on track to achieve SDG 6. Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen are on track to achieve SDG 13 (climate action).

The region’s six least developed countries (LDCs), Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, and two other countries experiencing conflict, Syria and Iraq, each have over ten SDGs classified as red in the SDG Dashboard. The Index warns that these countries will require “tremendous efforts” by domestic, regional and international partners to ensure they are not left behind. The report urges ending conflicts and violence in the region, cautioning that they put the SDGs out of reach.

The report features SDG case studies on regional water governance and cooperation, the water-energy-food nexus, good governance and stability, and data innovation and availability. The case study on water governance and cooperation recommends focusing on capacity building and financing and joint initiatives to accelerate progress. A case study on integrating the SDGs and green growth approaches into development planning highlights successes within the region.

EDA and SDSN caution that significant data gaps still exist in measuring sustainable development performance in the region. In particular, the region lacks data on income and wealth distribution, resulting in significant data gaps on SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 10 (reduced inequalities). The report therefore recommends that the region invest increased attention and resources in generating and making available the data needed to track SDG performance and facilitate data-driven, science-based planning and decision making.

There are several key features unique to the Arab Region Index. It features 30 indicators selected to reflect regional challenges and priorities such as tertiary school enrollment, diabetes prevalence, energy intensity, fossil fuel subsidies, arms imports and political stability. Two regional expert consultations in May and August 2019 helped inform the choice of these additional indicators. Second, the regional Index does not include indicators that are not relevant for the region or where data coverage is currently insufficient. Third, the Arab Region Index includes Palestine, which has not been included in the global SDG Index reports. In addition, the regional Index also provides total SDG achievement scores for Libya and Somalia, which did not previously receive scores due to low data availability. [Publication: Arab Region SDG Index and Dashboard Report 2019] [Arab SDG Index Webpage] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Global SDG Index] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on SDSN Report on Europe]  [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on SDSN Report on the Mediterranean

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