«SDSN Working Paper 15 February 2016 Draft for public consultation through to 31 March 2016 – not for citation This paper and all supporting data ...»
Preliminary Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)
Index and Dashboard
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Guido Schmidt-Traub and David Durand-Delacre
SDSN Working Paper
15 February 2016
Draft for public consultation through to 31 March 2016 – not for citation
This paper and all supporting data are available online at
The authors have prepared this draft document for public consultation to seek comments and
suggestions for improvement by 31 March 2016. In particular, we are grateful for recommendations for additional data to be included in the SDG Index and its components. All comments and suggestions for additional data should be submitted through the online form. Following the public consultation, the SDSN will issue a revised and expanded version of this document for public use.
Acknowledgements The authors are very grateful for advice and contributions from several colleagues and partners, including Inger Andersen, Thomas Brooks, Stuart Buchart, Emmanuel de Dios, Eve de la Mothe Karoubi, Jessica Espey, Tahl Kestin, Jorge Gómes-Paredes, Wilfried Rickels, Imme Scholz, David Smith, Katerina Teksoz, and Martin Visbeck.
Draft for public consultation – please do not cite Table of contents Why develop an unofficial SDG Index and an SDG Dashboard?
Discussion and next steps
List of tables Table 1. Indicators used in the preliminary Global SDG Index and SDG Dashboard
Table 2. Countries not included in preliminary Global SDG Index due to insufficient data availability.
...... 9 Table 3. Indicators used in the preliminary OECD SDG Index and OECD SDG Dashboard.
Table 4. Indicator thresholds used in OECD SDG Dashboard
Table 5. Preliminary Global SDG Index: Global ranking and score by country and aggregation method.
.. 12 Table 6. Preliminary OECD SDG Index: OECD ranking and score by country and aggregation method..... 16 Table 7. Dashboard for OECD countries using indicators of the OECD SDG Index
List of figures Figure 1. Comparison of Global SDG Indices using geometric mean and arithmetic mean
Figure 2. Comparison of Global SDG Indices using geometric mean and Leontief Production function.
... 14 Figure 3. Comparison of rankings by Global SDG Index and by Human Development Index
Figure 4. Rank comparison for OECD countries in global and OECD SDG Indices
Draft for public consultation – please do not cite
Why develop an unofficial SDG Index and an SDG Dashboard?
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all member states of the United Nations in September 2015 set ambitious objectives across the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability, underpinned by good governance. Sound metrics and data are critical for turning the SDGs into practical tools for problemsolving by (i) mobilizing governments, academia, civil society, and business; (ii) providing a report card to track progress and ensure accountability; and (iii) serving as a management tool for the transformations needed to achieve the SDGs by 2030 (SDSN 2015). Drawing on currently available data, this draft paper proposes a preliminary SDG Index and an SDG Dashboard that may help countries to mobilize stakeholders and identify priorities for early action. Both are unofficial measures that do not replace official statistics.
The UN Statistical Commission has initiated a process for developing a comprehensive, official indicator framework for the 17 SDGs and 169 targets. So far, the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) has identified an unwieldy list of some 230 indicators for adoption by the Statistical Commission in March 2016.1 In comparison, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) used 60 globally harmonized indicators, although even this limited number of indicators has yet to be fully implemented.
Most MDG indicators have suffered from large numbers of missing data points and some have been reported with lags of five years or more (Cassidy 2014). It will therefore take many years before an SDG indicator framework is underpinned by comprehensive data. In the meantime, interim measures are needed to promote the SDGs as practical tools for problem solving and to help countries identify priorities for early action.
The Bertelsmann Foundation, with support from the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), issued a report (Kroll 2015), which was the first to propose an SDG Index for OECD countries as a short-hand way of tracking SDG achievement and determining priorities for implementation in each country. The report grapples with major challenges of consistent measurement across these countries.
We applaud this important effort, and the SDSN was delighted to assist the Bertelsmann Foundation in its implementation. The report has rightly garnered significant attention by policymakers as well as the media.
Another significant effort has been undertaken by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI 2015), which presents a regional SDG Scorecard projecting trends across key dimensions of the SDGs to determine areas in which the fastest acceleration of progress will be required. The scorecard shows that businessas-usual trends will need to be reversed in many areas in order to achieve the SDGs. It covers all regions in the world, but relies on regional aggregates, so that its findings cannot be applied at the country level.
In this paper we propose, first, an initial country-level SDG Index for all developed and developing countries that measures SDG achievement across the 17 goals, using national cross-country data available today. Such an index will, in a highly preliminary way, rank countries across the SDGs to assess the current state of progress relative to peers (e.g. countries at a given income level or in a given geographic region). Second, we propose an SDG Dashboard that presents SDG data visually for each country and goal. Goals are highlighted in green, yellow, or red with red highlighting a country’s most acute challenges. In this way, the Dashboard can help stakeholders identify the most urgent priorities in each country and region. It illustrates that even countries that rank highly on the overall SDG Index face 1For the list of indicators presented to the UN Statistical Commission visit: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/statcom/47thsession/documents/2016-2-IAEG-SDGs-E.pdf. As recognized by the IAEG-SDGs many of the proposed indicators currently lack data and some also lack statistical definitions.
Draft for public consultation – please do not cite major challenges on some goals. Both the SDG Index and Dashboard use the same metrics, though the methods of data analysis and aggregation vary, as described below.
We emphasize that the proposed SDG Index and SDG Dashboard are not official SDG indicators and complement the official monitoring processes launched by countries and the United Nations. Our focus is on identifying suitable metrics and data that allow countries to take stock of where they stand in 2016 with regards to achieving the SDGs and to identify priorities for early action. In parallel robust data production and management systems will need to be built in every country so that the 17 SDGs can be tracked with rigor.
Method We apply three simple rules to determine suitable metrics for inclusion in the SDG Index and Dashboard.
First, we identify technically sound quantitative metrics for each goal and associated sub-targets that are useful for policymaking, applicable to a broad range of country settings, constructed from wellestablished data sources, and – ideally – frequently updated. We have considered the indicators proposed to date by the IAEG-SDGs (other than the “policy indicators”2) as well as the indicators considered in SDSN (2015), which in turn draws on inputs from two broad public consultations. We have done our best to account for some of the new social targets, such as safety and wellbeing, by identifying rigorous, high-quality indicators from non-official sources, including the perception-based measure reported by Gallup and a measure of subjective wellbeing from Helliwell et al. (2015).
Second, we include only those technically-sound SDG indicators with sufficient up-to-date data at the country level. We acknowledge that using existing quantitative metrics means that some of the important new issues in the SDG agenda will not be measured adequately. As time will be required to collect the necessary data, this is inevitable using currently available datasets. We examined the potential indicators according to their coverage of the world’s population focusing on the 154 UN member states with a national population greater than 1 million, a group of countries that includes more than 99 percent of the world population.3 We included a candidate SDG indicator if recent comparable data exists for at least 80 percent of the 154 countries, i.e. at least 124 countries with a population greater than 1 million.4 We are able to include 39 indicators in the current index (Table 1), between one and five variables per goal.5 As the SDG data is improved over time, many more indicators will be added to the SDG Index and Dashboard.
2Some indicators proposed by the IAEG-SDGs track the number of countries worldwide that have met certain policy benchmarks. Such indicators cannot be applied at the country level and are therefore not considered in the SDG index.
3 Small countries, such as Small Island Developing States, face several unique development challenges. Among them are high fixed per capita costs for data collection, which generally results in lower data availability. Moreover, the small size of some countries’ population makes it difficult to define representative survey samples required for household and other surveys. As a result, key MDG and SDG metrics remain unavailable in many small countries. This gap urgently needs to be filled with support from the international community.
4An exception is made for ocean-based indicators where we exclude landlocked countries from the minimum sample size resulting in 119 non-landlocked countries with a population greater than 1 million.
5 SDG 12 presents major measurement challenges. We propose “anthropogenic wastewater that receives treatment (%)”, which could equally be placed under SDG 6. Two frequently proposed indicators have adequate data coverage, but were excluded from the preliminary SDG index: (i) “Municipal Solid Waste (kg per capita per year)”: this variable was excluded as it does not track the use and recycling of solid waste, i.e. whether waste management is sustainable; (ii) “Material Footprint (MF)” (currently being reviewed by the IAEG-SDGs): This indicator is available from UNEP (2016) for 186 countries and aggregates use expressed in tons across a heterogeneous set of materials (biomass, fossil fuels, metal ores, and non-metallic minerals), but without tracking recycling of these materials. As a result, the MF index does not track the re-use of materials and is therefore not well suited to measure the circular economy or sustainable consumption and production patterns. Moreover, its Draft for public consultation – please do not cite Third, the SDG Index includes only those UN member states for which data is available for at least 80 percent of the indicators, i.e. at least 31 of 39 variables. Some small countries do have data on enough variables, so we were able to include 7 countries with a population of less than 1 million.6 The SDG Dashboard (Table 7) currently presents OECD countries only, but will be expanded to cover all countries in future iterations of this work.