22 March 2018
SDG Tracker Fosters Engagement with Indicator Data
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The ‘Our World in Data’ project has launched the SDG Tracker, currently in prototype form.

The SDG tracker uses a range of indicators to provide illustrations of progress against each SDG target – not only the indicators included in the UN’s indicator framework.

Trends are presented visually and an accompanying blog explains key findings.

5 March 2018: The ‘Our World in Data’ project has launched the SDG Tracker. According to its creators, SDG-tracker.org is the only interactive website that tracks progress towards the 17 SDGs while also enabling users to explore progress at the global or country level.

The site, which is currently in prototype form, uses the data from the UN’s Global SDG Indicators Database and other sources, and measures how trends related to each SDG target are changing for all countries around the world. Trends are presented visually, and an accompanying blog explains key findings.

The SDG Tracker uses a range of indicators to provide illustrations of progress against each SDG target – not only the indicators included in the UN’s indicator framework. For many of the UN’s official indicators, data is not widely available, or a methodology for measurement has not been established. The project points out that key to tracking progress is “understanding where major data gaps lie,” noting that for some of the SDG’s 169 targets, data is either not available or of poor quality.

On SDG 1, a blog article from 5 March queries the significance of falling global rates of extreme poverty. SDG 1 calls to end poverty in all its forms everywhere, with a target on eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. Authors Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Diana Beltekian point out that “people living on $3, $5, or $10 per day also face substantial hardships, and are still living in poverty.” However, they report, “progress is real,” as global poverty rates have been falling at higher levels of income as well, and thus the reductions in global extreme poverty are “not merely the result of people moving marginally above some arbitrary misery threshold.” While most countries still have populations with high levels of deprivation, they conclude, the trends affirm that reducing poverty is possible.

On SDG 5 (gender equality), a map titled ‘Universal suffrage granted to women, 2017’ is used to illustrate progress against target 5.1, to “end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.” The map shows all of the countries that have and have not granted universal suffrage, by year. The user can slide the ‘X’ axis button to show the spread of universal suffrage through time, with only Saudi Arabia indicated as not having granted universal suffrage by 2017. For a few others countries, data is not available. The first country recorded as granting universal suffrage was New Zealand, in 1907.

The official SDG global indicator for target 5.1 is “Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex” (SDG 5.1.1). The UN’s Global SDG Indicators Database does not provide data for this indicator, which is currently classified as ‘Tier III,’ denoting that there is no internationally established methodology or standards.

SDG 15 (life on land) contains target 15.2 on forests: “By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.” One map in this section of the SDG Tracker shows ‘Proportion of forest area certified under an independently verified certification scheme.’ The graphic is a line chart showing the rise or fall of covered area over time between 2010 and 2014, for each region, using data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). The user can select which regions to show from a menu embedded in the chart.

According to the chart, the regions of the world that started with the greatest amount of covered area also saw the highest increase – Northern Europe, Western Europe, and Northern America. Western Asia had a relatively steep rise (from 0% to 11.87%), while Central Asia shows as remaining at 0% coverage in 2014.

Other initiatives that track global SDG progress include: the World Bank’s dashboards, which present data from the World Development Indicators (WDI) that help to monitor the SDGs, and are updated as new data becomes available in the WDI; and the SDG Index and Dashboards from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). [SDG Tracker] [Article on Declining Poverty at Higher Poverty Lines] [Map of Universal Suffrage] [Graph of Verified Certification Forest Area] [Official list of SDG Global Indicators] [UN SDG Global Indicators Database] [World Bank SDG Dashboards] [SDSN SDG Index and Dashboards]

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