A joint initiative by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP). With support from the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

Consultation #2: Indicator selection, Raw data and Thresholds


The European Union (EU), its Commission, and member states must assume a stronger role in promoting and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the outcomes of the Paris Agreement. Both provide useful and timely frameworks for mapping out a long-term vision for the economic, social, and environmental transformations that Europe needs. Following the election of a new Parliament, the onset of Finland’s EU Presidency (the country is strongly committed to sustainable development), and the arrival of a new EU Commission, 2019 offers an opportunity to build greater momentum for sustainable development.

Building greater momentum for SDG implementation requires the mobilization and involvement of stakeholders from across the EU. We need more data-driven discussions about the challenges and opportunities to address them through long-term strategies at national and EU levels. This was underlined in the recent SDSN study Exposing EU policy gaps to address the SDGs commissioned by the EESC.

Sound metrics and data are critical for turning the SDGs into practical tools for problem solving. Yet, there is currently no fit-for-purpose instrument to measure the distance to be covered and the efforts made by the EU and its member states to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Civil society would also like to see greater involvement of non-state actors in the identification of appropriate data and data sources to capture the full range of sustainable development challenges across the EU.

SDSN and IEEP, in collaboration with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), are launching a participative process to develop an SDG report in October 2019 in order to present an up-to-date, quantitative view of the major SDG achievement gaps of the EU and all its member states. The report will be co-designed with civil society organizations and other actors to ensure that it responds to the needs and to build buy-in. We will estimate the SDG achievement gap for each metric by building on the methodology of the Sustainable Development Report 2019 (which includes the SDG Index and Dashboards) published annually since 2016 by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and SDSN. The report’s methodology was audited by the European Commission Joint Research Centre in June 2019.

Objective of this consultation

The report will draw on a mix of data sources from the European Commission services and agencies (Eurostat, European Energy Agency, Joint Research Centre, Directorate-Generals etc.) but also from other non-official data produced by the research community, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders, to ensure that all major policy needs are addressed. Country profiles and data visualisation tools will communicate the findings and peer to peer learning and exchange events are planned to support evidence-based implementation of the SDGs in the EU. The aim of the report is also to help identify major data gaps that need to be addressed in future years.

The SDSN and IEEP are working with the EESC to mobilize stakeholders across the European Union to review (1) the selection of indicators and (2) the absence of errors in the data presented and (3) key methodological choices (especially time-bound thresholds) and (4) the initial results and findings. The two organisations (SDSN and IEEP) will be responsible for making the final independent decisions on indicator election/exclusion and methodological choices and will draft the report.

The objective of this second consultation is to provide feedback on a proposed list of 111 indicators pre-selected by SDSN. This list has been refined following a first round of consultation conducted in May 2019 and a workshop in Brussels hosted by the EESC on 21 June 2019. The selected indicators were identified as potentially suitable SDG metrics based on five criteria and following a careful review of 300+ indicators (“comprehensive list”) available from official and non-official data sources.

At this stage we are seeking the following types of feedback:

  • Proposals for new indicators (especially under SDG 12-15)
  • Verify the absence of errors in the raw data presented
  • Feedback on thresholds (“green values”) to be achieved by the European Union and its member states by 2030. These thresholds are used to identify “distance to targets” and highlight major priorities for action.
  • Feedback on the draft findings and results (do they intuitively make sense)

Organisations are welcome to provide comments on indicators under each SDG but can also focus only on their areas of core expertise (e.g. economic, social, environmental, governance goals). We encourage each organisation to share the consultation material with colleagues in their organisations that have specific knowledge and expertise on indicators/monitoring.



Please submit your comments and suggestions by Thursday, 25th July 2019, via our online form. We are unfortunately not able to accept email submissions.

For any questions please contact europesdgreport@unsdsn.org