6 January 2016
IEAG-SDGs Proposes 231 Global Indicators, 80 Under Review
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The Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) has submitted its report to the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC), including a proposal of 231 global indicators, covering all targets of the SDGs.

With 80 of the 231 indicators "requiring refinements following further consultation," an update will be presented in a background document to the Commission.

unstats4717 December 2015: The Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) has submitted its report to the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC), including a proposal of 231 global indicators, covering all targets of the SDGs. With 80 of the 231 indicators “requiring refinements following further consultation,” an update will be presented in a background document to the Commission.

The report, transmitted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 17 December 2015, reviews the IAEG-SDGs’ work to develop a global indicator framework for the SDGs and its targets as contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report recalls that the IEAG-SDGs was established through a decision of the UNSC at its 46th session, in March 2015. The Group’s first meeting, held in New York, US, from 1-2 June 2015, discussed the methods of work of the group and the process for selecting indicators. The Group established two “discussion streams”: one on conceptual frameworks and indicator concepts and definitions; and another on identifying interlinkages across the SDGs and targets. From 7 July to 9 August 2015, IAEG members consulted within the two discussion streams, and a parallel consultation took place with observers (regional and international agencies and countries that are not members of the IAEG-SDGs), who provided input on the proposed indicators. From 11 August to 14 September 2015, an open consultation took place on the indicator proposals with all countries, regional and international agencies, civil society, academia and the private sector. The second IAEG-SDGs meeting, held from 26-28 October 2015, in Bangkok, Thailand, further reviewed the indicator proposals and defined the next steps for the process. A brief open consultation with experts from international agencies, non-IAEG Member States and other stakeholders followed in early November.

The report of the IAEG-SDGs invites the UNSC to adopt: the revised terms of reference (ToR) of the IAEG-SDGs; the global indicator framework for the SDGs and targets of the 2030 Agenda and the background document, including plans for further development of some indicators; a proposed work plan for the implementation of the global indicator framework; and proposed work programme of the Group for the next year.

According to the revised ToR proposed by the Group, the IEAG-SDGs will: provide technical support for the implementation of the approved indicator and monitoring framework over the 15-year period towards 2030; ensure the use of harmonized and agreed indicator definitions; share experiences on monitoring the SDGs; report on progress towards the SDGs and targets at the global level, based on global and regional aggregates, as mandated; regularly review capacity-building activities in statistical areas relevant to SDG monitoring and make recommendations to be considered by the UN, the High Level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for post 2015 monitoring (HLG), and the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities; and support work by the Secretariat for the development of a SDG data-user forum, tools for data analysis and an open dashboard on the state of the SDGs.

As for the Group’s future working methods, it suggests the formation of global monitoring groups to bring together national and international experts, in order to support the IAEG-SDGs on the selection and definition of indicators and data compilation and monitor progress in new and emerging areas covered by the SDGs and targets. The Group will meet physically twice a year, and otherwise conduct its work electronically. It will report annually to UNSC and seek guidance from it. Members of the IAEG-SDGs will also regularly review and discuss data gaps and related priorities for capacity building and data development in relation to SDG indicators.

The proposed work plan for the IAEG-SDGs between March 2016-March 2017 includes: agreeing on the global reporting mechanism and identifying entities responsible for compiling data for global reporting on individual indicators to be provided to the Secretariat; establishing a tier system for the indicators; establishing a work plan for further development of Tier III indicators (those for which an internationally agreed methodology has not yet been developed); establishing procedures for the methodological review of indicators, including approval mechanisms of needed revisions; reviewing the data availability for Tier I indicators (those for which an established methodology exists and data are already widely available) and Tier II indicators (those for which a methodology has been established, but data are not easily available) and develop a plan for increasing the data coverage of Tier II indicators; developing further guidance on data disaggregation; continuing the discussion on interlinkages across targets and SDGs and on the use of multipurpose indicators; and holding two physical meetings: one in March 2016 and one in the fall of 2016, while continuing to interact electronically and via teleconferences.

The proposed global indicators agreed by the IAEG-SDGs are listed in an Annex to the report. Of the 231 proposed indicators, 80 are marked with an asterisk to indicate that they remain under review, with any agreed modifications to be reported to the UNSC in February 2016. In previous stages of the IAEG’s work, indicators not yet agreed were categorized as “grey.” The proposed indicators for two SDGs are fully agreed (previously referred to as “green”), per the report: the 14 indicators for Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), and the 12 indicators for Goal 9 (Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation).

For several SDGs, over half of the proposed indicators for each are still under review: Goal 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture), Goal 11 ( Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable), Goal 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts), Goal 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development), and Goal 15 (Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss). One third of the 80 unresolved indicators (27) relate to means of implementation (MOI).

On data disaggregation, the report identifies this as a key element of the global indicator framework, along with coverage of particular population groups. The Group agreed on an overarching principle of data disaggregation to accompany the list of indicators, which notes that the SDG indicators should be disaggregated where relevant by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and geographic location, or other characteristics, in accordance with the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics.

On continuous improvement of indicators and data availability, the Group’s report highlights that further methodological work will be conducted, and that the UNSC will review and approve further developments and future modifications of the indicators resulting from improved data availability, new methodologies or interlinkages identified across targets, which are of a technical nature and do not change the substance of the indicators.

The report notes that in addition to the global indicator framework, different indicators might be used for regional, national and sub-national monitoring. Member States will develop national indicators in line with the principle of the 2030 Agenda that targets are defined as aspirational and global, with each government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances. The report also notes that indicators for thematic monitoring are also being developed in a number of areas.

Finally, the report recalls that the UN Secretary-General has been mandated to produce an annual SDG progress report to support follow-up and review at the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF). The SDG progress report is to be based on data produced by national statistical systems and information collected at the regional level.

The UNGA will convene a briefing on the work of the IAEG-SDGs on 28 January 2016. [Publication: Report of the Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators] [UNSC 47 Website] [IISD RS Story on Grey Indicators Consultation]

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