UN statistics commission agrees starting point for SDG oversight

14 Mar 16

The United Nations Statistical Commission agreed on a set of 230 preliminary indicators to measure progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals published last September.

Wu Hongbo, under secretary general of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, of which the UKSC is part, said “completing the indicator framework is not the end of the story – on the contrary, it is the beginning”.

Hongbo said it was necessary to acknowledge that developing a high-quality set of indicators is a technical and necessarily continuous process, “with refinements and improvements” made as “knowledge improves and new data sources become available”.

One challenge will entail the effective disaggregation of data, by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and more, to allow coverage of specific sectors of the population.

This will be essential if the SDGs are to be implemented successfully.

Hongbo said this will require “an unprecedented amount of data to be produced and analysed”, posing a significant challenge to national statistics systems in both the developing and developed world.

National and regional authorities will also have to develop their own indicators for regional, national and sub-national monitoring, as the global indicators won’t be able to account for different realities, capacities and levels of development.

The statistical commission will now submit its initial global indicator framework to the UN’s Economic and Social Council and General Assembly for adoption.

Starting in July this year, the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development will begin overseeing national and thematic reviews on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In 2016, 21 countries will take part in the national reviews on a voluntary basis.

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