The success or failure of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will depend, in large part, upon effective monitoring. Well crafted indicators and high quality data will give governments, businesses, academia, and civil society the information they need to target resources, policies, and programs. Good quality data will enable us to track progress on our objectives over time, and to change course if we veer off track.
In Agenda 2030, governments have committed to provide for systematic follow-up and review at global, regional, and national levels. In particular the High Level Political Forum, under the auspices of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, will have the central role in overseeing follow-up and review at the global level. Indicators are being developed to assist this work, recognising that “quality, accessible, timely and reliable disaggregated data will be needed to help with the measurement of progress and to ensure that no one is left behind” (Agenda 2030, para. 48).
A sound indicator framework will turn the SDGs and their targets into a management tool to help countries develop implementation strategies and allocate resources accordingly, as well as a report card to measure progress towards sustainable development and help ensure the accountability of all stakeholders for achieving the SDGs. The mechanics of SDG monitoring are still being worked out, but it is clear that the focus of SDG monitoring will be at the national level. Complementary monitoring will occur at regional and global levels, as well as among thematic epistemic communities. SDSN has been at the forefront of discussions on a robust set of indicators for the SDGs, including through our report “Indicators and a Monitoring Framework for the SDGs.”
Conducting high quality monitoring and producing reliable data requires common standards, strong data systems and adequate capacity. Governments will need to undertake comprehensive needs assessments of their statistical capacity and readiness in order to monitor the agenda. In the Data for Development report, SDSN quantifies investment needs in administrative data and high-frequency and real-time data systems to support effective decision-making.
The unprecedented rate of innovation in data collection techniques and technologies and the capacity to distribute data widely and freely has expanded the horizon of possible sources and uses of data. The adoption of the SDGs presents a strategic opportunity to build on the momentum of the data revolution and demonstrate the central role of data in eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable development. SDSN is proud to be a founding partner of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD)– a global network of governments, NGOs and businesses working together to create more, open usable data for decision-making in response to the challenge of sustainable development.