Refining the Indicators: Opening the process; open for influence?

Global Policy Watch Briefing #14

By Barbara Adams and Karen Judd

As the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development concludes, the technical work at/of the UN continues to refine and agree on the global indicators to measure progress. This involves circulating selected indicators for consultation, adopting a lead agency to collect and submit the data and adopting an agreed methodology, as well as fundraising to increase the extent of data coverage and building capacity. At the same time, as this is a work in progress, many Member States have undertaken national initiatives to review the SDGs and incorporate them into national policy and budget processes.

At the conclusion of its 47th session in March 2016, the UN Statistical Commission accepted the proposed SDG indicator framework submitted by the Interagency and Expert Group on SDGs (IAEG-SDGs) as ‘a practical starting point’ which will continue to be refined over the next several years. At that session, where delegations included policy as well as technical representatives (somewhat unusually), Member States were asked and agreed to hold off on policy related comments on the indicator framework until the IAEG-SDGs could conclude its work on the technical issues, submitting comments on ten indicators as illustrative only. The technical work includes the assignment of indicators into three tiers, classified according to whether or not there is an agreed methodology as well as the extent of data availability, along with the adoption of a custodial or responsible agency for data collection and submission.