Two years have passed since countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and efforts are underway to take stock of the various activities that are needed to meet the SDGs by their 2030 deadline.

Since September 2015, United Nations policymakers have been trying to register and compile global commitments toward SDG targets and align country-specific aspirations and constraints. At the same time, scholars and statistical offices have been refining methodologies to assess progresses, examine interlinkages, identify factors that slow achievement, and identify spillover effects. These were the topics discussed 15 December, 2017, during a workshop entitled Measuring Progress Toward the 2030 Agenda: An Updated Assessment, hosted by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (host of SDSN Italy) and the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS).

The first session of the workshop acknowledged the multidimensional aspects of sustainable development and the need for holistic approaches, placing a particular emphasis on potential synergies and trade-offs across the different SDGs. The session opened with a demonstration of the APPS (Assessment, Projection and Policy of Sustainable Development Goals) model developed by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, looking at interlinkages between climate change, agriculture, population dynamics, and food security. They concluded by proposing the development of a plan to integrate SDG policy across sectors and stakeholders. A key take-home message was that the integrated nature of the SDGs necessitate both integrated approaches and solutions.

The second session focused on the evaluation of policies to implement the SDGs. It started by taking a high-level look at national-level policy and concluded with a more detailed look at the 2017 ASviS Report L’Italia e gli Obiettivi di Sviluppo Sostenibile“, offering a country-specific assessment of an integrated policy mix to meet Agenda 2030. The conversation also touched upon data requirements and the good governance necessary for coherent and shared policy architecture.

Agenda 2030 is extremely ambitious and requires significant action to implement; this workshop was a great opportunity to link methodological approaches to empirical evidence, considering both the international perspective as well as locals contexts. While it covered a range of topics many questions remained, including: How can policies implemented at different levels (National, Provincial, and Municipal) work together in a coherent fashion? How can research centers and statistical offices use data and tools like rankings to help attain the goals? These questions are important food for thought to be explored in future meetings.