16 February 2017
UNStats Circulates Draft Resolution on SDG Indicator Framework
Photo by IISD/ENB
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The report of this year's UN Statistical Commission meeting is expected to include a draft resolution for ECOSOC on the global indicator framework for the SDGs.

A zero draft of the resolution was sent to all UN Member States’ chief statisticians in early February, along with a request to coordinate with permanent missions in New York.

Some UN Member States indicated that it may be preferable to table only a procedural resolution.

15 February 2017: Briefing UN Member States on the upcoming 48th session of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC), Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the UN Statistics Division, said the report of this year’s meeting is expected to include a draft resolution for the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on the global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNSC 48 will convene from 7-10 March 2017, in New York, US.

The Statistics Division serves as Secretariat for the UNSC. It is also the Secretariat of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), which has been developing the indicator framework. Schweinfest briefed Member States on 15 February 2017, in New York, US.

Recalling that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development mandates the UNSC to develop the global indicator framework for adoption by ECOSOC and the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Schweinfest said the Commission hopes that at this year’s meeting, members will approve a draft resolution to bring the indicator framework to ECOSOC and then to the UNGA. A zero draft of the resolution was sent to all UN Member States’ chief statisticians in early February, he reported, along with a request to contact their respective permanent missions in New York to ensure linkages between the technical and political levels.

By the draft resolution, ECOSOC would adopt the indicator framework with a provision to conduct refinement/revision in 2020 and 2025.

He said that by the draft resolution, ECOSOC would: adopt the indicator framework, with a provision to conduct refinement/revision in 2020 and 2025; stress the need for capacity building, collaboration and technology transfer to enable the required statistical work to produce approximately 230 indicators, whereas the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were measured in 60 indicators; and reaffirm guidelines on data flow between national and international actors, based on the 2006 ECOSOC resolution on statistical capacity (2006/6).

According to Schweinfest,the Division has received 47 country comments on the draft, which is now undergoing a revision, and a second version is expected to be circulated early in the week of 20 February. He remarked that none of the comments indicate red lines or “show-stoppers” and that all issues being negotiated upon should be solvable.

One Member State asked whether a resolution is truly required, or if it is the Commission could instead provide an update on indicators in the regular report of the session. Others suggested that it may be preferable to table a procedural resolution, while leaving substantive issues in the narrative report of the session. One said that it will be difficult to completely negotiate a resolution before the face-to-face meeting, and that the day of adoption could be “problematic” with regard to concerns about sensitive indicators. Another explained that countries’ chief statisticians and national statistical offices (NSOs) are independent and that the missions in New York do not provide instructions to them, and yet the resolution they are crafting will need to be adopted by ECOSOC and the UNGA. He echoed the suggestion that the Commission table only a procedural resolution on adopting the indicator framework. Another delegate asked about the scope for “tweaks” when ECOSOC and/or the UNGA consider the draft resolution.

In response to these remarks, Schweinfest stressed the need for political representatives in New York to be in close and urgent contact with their technical counterparts in capitals, including to provide guidance on what will be politically possible. He said the ideal scenario is that technical and political colleagues work together ahead of time to agree on the contents of the resolution, and it may not be possible for UNSC members to “uncouple” the procedural statement from the other elements. They prefer to provide the indicator framework in the context of text about the requirements for capacity building and rules of the game for working together internationally.

In response to a suggestion, Schweinfest indicated that he will try to inform delegations in New York when the second version of the draft resolution is circulated to NSOs, to facilitate faster coordination within each government.

In other updates, he said UNSC 48 will include some historical reflection on the Commission’s achievements in the 70 years since its establishment. He added that while their traditional role refers to official statistics, the field has become wider and includes geospatial data, big data and more, and the Commission has an interest in drawing on all sources to support monitoring of the 2030 Agenda. The First UN World Data Forum, which convened in January 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa, addressed the arrangements by which NSOs may be able to access types of data owned by private parties, he added. [IISD Sources] [UNSC 48 Documents]

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