SDG Indicators: Cross Threading and Classifying

By Karen Judd and Sarah Dayringer

Throughout the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the commitment to the integrated nature of sustainable development. The challenge of how to capture this has shown some interesting dynamics, most recently in regard to the global indicators. Statisticians have sought to integrate their work across indicators on decent work and social protection, which can be found in SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 16. Similarly indicators on gender equality go across many of the same goals. This cross-cutting dynamic should help to do more rather than less. Disaggregation across the goals should increase by income level, gender, age, and geographic location.

The SDGs have potential to make visible disparities that in the past have been invisible in both developed and developing countries. For example, unpaid household and care work, equal pay for work of equal value, various gaps in social protection, and the prevalence of neighborhood and gender based violence all have implications across the sustainable development goals from poverty to peaceful, just and inclusive societies. In its decision on the indicator framework, the 47th Statistical Commission recognizes that it is a preliminary list and initial step that will evolve over time.

Turning to implementation, the IAEG-SDGs is meeting in Mexico, 31 March to 1 April 2016 to classify the indicators into the three tiers – in terms of the existence of an established methodology and the availability of data – starting with those in Tier III referenced here, for which there is a no internationally agreed methodology. The expectation is that there will be many more indicators than estimated, as UN agencies often exaggerated the extent of coverage of an indicator in order to make sure it was included in the global indicators framework.

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