Measuring progress, true wealth, and well-being
The Global Sustainable Development Report 2019 “Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development”, was prepared by an independent group of scientists appointed by the United Nations. The report was commissioned by the Member States of the United Nations in 2016 and will be officially launched at the UN SDGs Summit. This quadrennial report describes the current development model as unsustainable and states that the progress made so far could easily be reversed due to worsening social inequalities and dangerous declines in the natural environment. It therefore calls for a drastic change in development policies, actions and incentives as well as more specific transformations in key areas, such as human activities, including food, energy, consumption and production, and cities. In order to achieve such changes, the report advocates for a better understanding of the interconnections between the individual SDGs and the concrete systems that define society today. Science must play a major role in advancing sustainable development.
The OECD published the 2019 “Going for Growth” report. The publication provides a guide to policy makers on where to focus their reform efforts for citizens’ well-being, so as to achieve a strong, sustainable and inclusive growth. For the first time, the 2019 edition explicitly includes environmental sustainability considerations, calling for environmental taxation, reductions in transport emissions and the phase out of environmentally harmful subsidies. The report finds slow growth, high uncertainty and rising inequality and recommends country-specific structural reforms that can boost growth, competitiveness and productivity, create jobs and ensure a cleaner environment. As a result, most countries have reform priorities that address both growth and environmental issues. The report also includes an assessment of top structural reform priorities in 46 OECD and non-OECD economies, finding a disappointing pace of reforms in 2017-2018. The most common reform priority across countries was Education.
The United Nation Statistics Division published the 2019 Sustainable Development Report. The report tracks global progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), taking stock of how far we have come in realizing our commitments. The results of the report are based on the latest available data (as of May 2019) on selected indicators in the global indicator framework for the SDGs. The findings show progress in certain areas and trends. For instance, extreme poverty has declined and concrete actions are being undertaken also in relation to the protection of the planet. Despite such progress, the report shows that many areas still need urgent collective action to unleash the social and economic transformation needed to achieve our 2030 goals. The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate and current efforts to end human suffering and create opportunity for all are moving too slowly. The report also highlights the importance of the quality and availability of data to track progress on the SDGs.
UNCTAD published the SDG Pulse, their first annual online statistical report on the developments related to the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. The report provides an update of selected SDG indicators, data and statistics, reviews the progress in methodologies for Tier III indicators and provides an overview of UNCTAD’s contributions to the Agenda 2030. The indicators cover three themes: multilateralism for trade & development; productive growth; and structural transformation. In addition, indicators are categorised by goal, reflecting UNCTAD’s broad mandate of economic and sustainable development. In particular, the indicators analysed in the SDG Pulse relate to Goal 2, 8, 9, 10, 12, 16 and 17. Every year, the SDG Pulse highlights a specific aspect of the 2030 Agenda, and in 2019 addresses aspects of global economic and income inequality as well as inequality in access to data.
The OECD published the second edition of the report “Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets – An assessment of where OECD countries stand”. The study compares countries’ progress across SDG goals and targets with the objective of helping OECD countries in understanding challenges and setting their priorities for action within the Agenda 2030. The study is based on the 232 UN global indicators and data is available to assess 105 of 169 SDG targets. Going beyond the 2017 edition, the report shows whether countries are moving in the right direction, indicator by indicator, but not the pace of change. The report highlights that more than half of the targets of Agenda 2030 is transboundary in nature, thus requiring countries to consider their impacts beyond their own borders. Findings show that OECD countries are on average closest to achieving goals on energy, cities and climate and goals relating to planet. On the other hand, they are furthest away from goals related to inclusiveness.
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) released the 2019 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific, published annually since 1947. The 2019 Survey consists of four chapters. The first one underlines the social and environmental costs of the Asia-Pacific region’s economic growth over the past 50 years, and the second assesses the economic outlook and policy challenges faced by the region. The third chapter estimates the financial cost of achieving the SDGs through investments in people and planet, and the final chapter concludes on the necessity of cooperation and calls for raising ambition beyond economic growth. SDGs are broken down into five categories and the investment necessary to achieve each of them by 2030 is calculated using several indicators. Overall, the survey estimates that economic conditions in the Asia-Pacific region are stable, and that achieving the SDGs by 2030 would require a significant investment for the developing countries in the region.
The 6th OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy took place in Incheon (Korea) on November 27-29 2018. Part of the OECD’s Better Life Initiative, its focus was on ensuring inclusive growth and sustainable well-being in an interconnected world. The forum presented indicators to measure the impacts of business on well-being and sustainability and indicators to measure Korean quality of life. Two OECD reports, Beyond GDP: Measuring What Counts for Economic and Social Performance, and its accompanying report summarizing contributions to the debate, were also released during the forum. The forum concluded on the Incheon Declaration for ‘Improving Korean Quality of Life’, which recognizes the ‘significance of measurements and statistics to develop better policies for better lives’.
The High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social progress (HLEG) published “Beyond GDP: Measuring what counts for economic and social performance”. The book illustrates the progress made since the 2009 Stigliz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission report and identifies 12 recommendations to provide additional direction for future work on “beyond GDP”, including the integration of economic inequalities in the System of National Accounts, the development of better metrics to account for well-being, and new dashboards of indicators to guide policies. Despite the progress made, most of the recommendations listed in the 2009 report remain valid, suggesting that we are still far from “accomplishing the mission”. The book stresses the importance of measuring “real” growth, that is equitable and sustainable and therefore not solely rely on GDP as an indicator of progress. The book argues that what governments measure can strongly influence what they do. This calls for a broader dashboard of indicators which covers all dimensions of sustainability and well-being but small enough to be comprehensible. A companion report, “For Good Measure: Advancing Research on Well-being Metrics Beyond GDP”, provides a series of authored chapters, prepared by some HLEG members, on those topics that have been the focus of the HLEG work.
UN Environment published the 2018 Inclusive Wealth Report, a biennial effort that evaluates countries’ performance in measuring the sustainability of their economy and the well-being of their people. The report measures inclusive wealth for 140 countries over the period 1990-2014. By measuring inclusive wealth - comprising of manufactured, human and natural capital - countries are assessed in terms of their well-being and whether they are developing in a way that allows future generations to meet their own needs. The results show that rising wealth has come at the expense of the environment. 44 countries have experienced a decline in inclusive wealth per capita since 1992 even though GDP per capita has increased in almost all of them, indicating that a country’s GDP can be increasing even if well-being is declining. The Inclusive Wealth index provides a tool for policy makers to check whether their policies are sustainable. It can help tracking progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and whether they are achieved in a sustainable way.
The World Bank published the 2018 World Development Indicators (WDI), a set of high-quality and internationally comparable statistics about global development and poverty. An annual World Development Indicators report was available in print or PDF format until 2017. The number of indicators contained in the database has increased significantly over the past 30 years, reaching a total of 1600 indicators in 2018. The WDI provides statistical information on all aspects of development and allows to monitor their progress over time. The indicators cover 217 economies and are categorised under six data themes: poverty and inequality; people; environment; economy; states and markets; and global links. The indicators are based on the World Bank Group surveys and on data from international organizations, national statistical offices, private sector and academic studies. In addition to the indicators, a number of “stories” is available on the website to illustrate how WDI indicators can be used to explore development trends and current data issues.
The OECD published the 2018 Regions and Cities at a Glance Report which assesses progress of OECD regions and countries, as well as in selected non‑member countries, towards stronger economies, higher quality of life for their citizens, and more inclusive societies. This 7th edition updates more than 40 region-by-region indicators to measure disparities within countries and their evolution since the turn of the millennium. New features of the 2018 edition include: the incorporation of cities, with an assessment of socio-economic conditions, inequalities and poverty in metropolitan areas; new indicators of inequality and poverty rates, migrants’ integration, and creation and destruction of firms and associated employment dynamics. Key findings show decreasing yet still high regional economic disparities, improved quality of life, and the necessity to deal with inequalities across all spatial scales to achieve inclusive growth.
The UNDP’s Human Development Report Office (HDRO) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) have launched a new global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). Building on the 2010 and 2014 editions, the revised 2018 MPI aims at better monitoring the SDGs (which call to eradicate poverty in all its forms everywhere) and understanding how people experience poverty in multiple and simultaneous ways. The MPI is based on ten weighted indicators across three key dimensions (health, education and standard of living) and it identifies how people are being left behind, lacking clean water, sanitation, adequate nutrition or primary education; people experiencing deprivation in at least one third of these indicators are considered ‘multidimensionally poor’. According to the MPI, covering 77% of the global population in 105 countries, 1.3 billion people live in multidimensional poverty, among which 1.1 billion live in rural areas; half of all people living in poverty are younger than 18 years old. However, some progress has been observed. For example, the poverty rate in India has nearly halved between 2005/06 and 2015/16.
The United Nations Development Programme published the report “Human Development Indices and Indicators: Statistical Update 2018”. The report provides an overview of the state of human development, covering current conditions as well as long term trends. The report builds on a list of human development indices and indicators to ensure consistency in reporting. Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Ireland and Germany lead the HDI ranking of 189 countries and territories. The results of the statistical analysis show that the global overall trend is towards continued human development improvements, and five key findings are identified. Firstly, people are living longer and are more educated the quality of human development reveals large deficits. In addition, countries experiencing conflicts show losses in the Human Development Index (HDI). There are large inequalities across the different human development dimensions and women tend to have a lower HDI value than men. Lastly, environmental degradation can be a threat to human development gains.
The World Health Organization has published its annual Report on progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and health-related Sustainable Development Goals in the South-East Asia region, covering 11 countries. The 2018 report, the third since 2016, assesses regional progress on UHC and health-related SDG targets and reflects on progress towards monitoring health-related SDGs. 25 SDG3 indicators are used, plus other selected health-related indicators where data is available. New features of the 2018 report include the use of SDG indicator of financial protection and the assessment of trends in equity over time. Data show that overall essential health service coverage has improved in all countries covered since 2010, increasing from 44% to 64% in 2018, but progress is still necessary to reach SDG targets. The report demonstrates that more work is also needed to better monitor equity, as well as to improve data collection to adequately measure SDGs mortality-related indicators.
The OECD’s Fragile States Report 2018 provides evidence to inform policymakers and inspire a proactive and ambitious response in countries classified as fragile in the OECD’s 2018 fragility framework (so called “fragile contexts”), in terms of economic, environmental, political, security, and societal fragility. The 2018 framework includes 58 fragile contexts, increasing from 56 in 2016. The report shows that issues driving fragility can jeopardise the delivery of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The report compares the 58 fragile contexts against 10 issues associated with sustainable development: population, poverty, inequality, governance, education, gender, violence, health, disasters, and forced displacement. Out of 157 countries for which data on SDG progress are available, the 58 fragile contexts rank in the lower third, with Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad and Central African Republic at the bottom.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Stiftung have published the 2018 SDG index and Dashboards Results. The third edition of the annual report, provides a composite measure of progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It provides data for all 193 UN member countries, with 156 countries covered by the index, and applies 88 indicators. This year’s analysis includes 10 completely new indicators and replaces several other indicators. The best performing countries in the index are Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The report also includes the first assessment of government actions for the SDGs, with close attention to the G20 countries. The main conclusion is that no country is on track to achieving the goals by 2030. Brazil, Mexico and Italy stand out as having SDG strategies. Overall, Russian Federation and the United States have taken the last measures to implement the goals.
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 follows the recently published advance report of the UN Secretary-General titled “Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals”. The 2018 report, based on the global indicator framework developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) and adopted by the UN General Assembly in July 2017, provides an overview of progress on the 17 SDGs, with a particular focus on the six Goals under review at the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development of July 2018. Results show that progress so far has not been rapid enough to reach the goals and targets by 2030, in particular on issues such as youth unemployment, conflicts, climate change and inequality. This calls for immediate and accelerated action by countries and stakeholders at all levels. In addition, the report emphasises the importance, as well as the challenges, of collecting, analysing and disseminating reliable data to provide evidence on our path towards the SDGs and to promote better evidence-based policymaking.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network released the 2018 U.S. Cities SDG Index which provides an overview of the state of sustainable development in U.S. cities. The Index covers the 100 most populated city regions within the U.S., which are home to 66% of the domestic population. This composite index is based on 44 indicators, which aim to cover 15 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The concept and methodology for the index are based on the 2017 edition and the SDSN Global SDG Index. In 2018, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro region in California tops the ranking for the second year in a row. Persistent problems for U.S. cities include access to healthcare, obesity, income inequality and violent crime. This report is intended to serve as a tool for U.S. cities to track their progress over time, relative to an international standard of sustainable development.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released the report “World Health Statistics 2018: Monitoring health for the SDGs”. The report, covering 194 member countries, provides health data, including health coverage and access to services and expenditures. The first part describes the data used and provides an overview of their compilation, processing and analysis. The second part summarises the current status of selected health-related SDG indicators at global and regional levels, based on data available as of early 2018. The third part illustrates the three strategic priorities of achieving universal health coverage (UHC), addressing health emergencies and promoting healthier populations through several case studies. Results demonstrate that less than half of the people in the world today get all of the health services they need, while close to 13 million people die every year before the age of 70 from cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer – mostly in low and middle-income countries.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has issued an advanced and unedited version of the results of the yearly report on progress towards the SDGs, The report is based on selected SDG indicators for which data were available, using the latest data as of 10 May 2018. The report aims to inform the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2018. The global indicator framework used in the report was developed by the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators and adopted by the UN General Assembly in July 2017. For each of the 17 SDGs, the Secretary-General’s report provides an overview paragraph on progress, including descriptions of statistical trends for the targets under each Goal (according to data availability). The report stresses the need to strengthen the capacities of national statistical systems and ensure quality, accessible, open, timely and disaggregated data.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific published the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2017, assessing the progress in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets in Asia and the Pacific. Despite some gaps in data and indicators, the report analyses regional and sub-regional progress, as well as associated disparities among income groups countries. Drawing on the analysis of 66 indicators (60 global SDG indicators and 6 proxy indicators) the report identifies clear patterns of progress and regression. The results show poor progress in terms of reducing inequalities, access to justice and environmental protection, in contrast to progress made in eradicating poverty and improving good health and wellbeing. The report is an invaluable resource for all stakeholders involved in the prioritisation, planning, implementation, follow up and review of the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific.
Established in 2011, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation is a project led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in concert with 161 countries, 56 international organisations, and additional partners across the public and private sectors. In March 2018, the project launched the Global Partnership’s Dashboard which aims at monitoring partnership across SDGs. The dashboard, which includes 10 indicators, is designed to: monitor progress of recipient programs, countries and cities; identify trends in the performance on indicators and SDGs; compare performance; identify the areas where and reasons why funding is not producing the intended results.
The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018: Building a Sustainable Future is part of the World Bank’s effort to measure national wealth and changes in wealth, building on two previous books: Where is the Wealth of Nations? Measuring Capital for the 21st century (2006) and The Changing Wealth of Nations: Measuring Sustainable Development in the new Millennium (2011). In the book, wealth is reported for 141 countries between 1995 and 2014 as the sum of produced capital and urban land, natural capital, human capital, and net foreign assets. From the previous editions, progress had been made in the measurement of wealth including substantial improvements in estimates of natural capital and the use for the first time of household surveys to measure human capital. In this way, the analysis goes beyond the standard measures of economic performance, such as GDP and GNI. Data show that while global wealth has increased by 66% in the recorded period, per capital wealth has not and inequality in overall wealth still persists.
The OECD has published How’s Life? 2017 as part of the Better Life initiative. This fourth edition of the report provides evidence on well-being in 35 OECD countries and 6 partner countries and monitors changes since 2005. Well-being is measured through 50 indicators across 11 dimensions: housing, income and wealth, jobs and earnings, social connections, education and skills, civic engagement and governance, health status, subjective well-being, personal security, and work-life balance. The report provides a country-by-country analysis and shows an overall progress in well-being since 2005, even though several aspects are still lagging behind. In particular inequalities exist and are highlighted across the different dimensions of well-being in all OECD countries. In addition, the report sheds light on the challenges and disadvantages faced by migrants across these dimensions. The report highlights the divide between people and public institutions, showing a decline in trust on the latter.
The African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have jointly published the African Sustainability Report. The report describes the progress of the African continent against two development frameworks, the Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda. The report looks in specific detail to six SDG goals identified as priorities by the 2017 high-level political forum on sustainable development, namely Goal 1 (No poverty); Goal 2 (Zero hunger); Goal 3 (Good health and well-being); Goal 5 (Gender equality); Goal 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure); and Goal 14 (Life below water). The report covers all 54 African countries with variable data coverage, utilising 241 indicators. Key findings reveal that there has been slow progress in reducing poverty and that many fish stocks are overexploited.
In October 2017, a group of governments including Scotland, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Slovenia, decided to come together to facilitate global efforts towards shifting away from the GDP focus and to launch an alliance to share good practice in wellbeing policy making. The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WE-All) brings together organizations, networks, academics, businesses, NGOs, and individuals, in order to catalyse global efforts towards creating a sustainable wellbeing economy. Fundamentals tackled by the Alliance include the promotion of measures and conceptions of success aligned with wellbeing rather than GDP or short-term profit. WE-All will be co-organising the Global Forum 2019 in Malaga (Spain) on April 24-26, together with NESI (New Economy and Social Innovation). The Forum will focus on achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change Agenda through local actions.
Listening to Tajikistan (L2TJK) is a survey ran by the World Bank Poverty team that monitors life satisfaction in Tajikistan, the poorest country in Central Asia with a GDP per capita of less than EUR 700 . The survey aims to generate evidence for targeted policy making which would support the sustainable development of the country. It is designed to quantitatively assess the severity of socio-economic shocks that households are exposed to and how these affect their subjective wellbeing. This high-frequency monitoring is focused on four themes: income and unemployment, migration and remittances, electricity and water, and deprivations and subjective wellbeing. The L2TJK survey (which consists of 24 rounds from May 2015 until December 2016) showed that insufficient access to food leads to a large drop in households’ wellbeing relative to other shocks. It also showed that traditional measures of welfare, like GDP, would fail to capture that life satisfaction in Tajikistan is much higher than the average in Central Asia. Consequently, basing decisions on GDP only, would not permit the formulation of the most appropriate policy responses for sustainable development in the country.
The UN Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), a joint initiative of UNEP and other UN agencies, published the Green Economy Progress (GEP) measurement framework. This is a tool for countries to evaluate their progress towards an inclusive green economy, which addresses three main challenges: persistent poverty, overstepped planetary boundaries, and inequitable sharing of prosperity. The GEP framework, which complements the United Nations Environment Programme’s previous green economy indicators frameworks (2012-2014), comprises a GEP index and a Dashboard of Sustainability. The former contains 13 indicators which assess the progress in well-being in relation to economic opportunities, social inclusion and environmental protection. The latter includes six indicators which monitor the long-term sustainability of the progress achieved. The framework aims to support the assessment of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has published the U.S. Cities SDG Index. The index ranks the 100 most populous U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) based on their performance against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ranking is based on 49 indicators covering 16 of the 17 SDGs. A score between 0 and 100 is assigned to each indicator per city, 100 being the best possible score; scores across the indicators are aggregated into a composite index. Cities account for 62.7 of America’s domestic population, and many of its cities face complex socio-economic and environmental sustainability challenges, such as water scarcity, unemployment and health inequalities. San Jose MSA region is the top scoring city region within the index, while Baton Rouge, Louisiana has the lowest ranking, due to high levels of relative poverty and unemployment.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) published the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017. This is the first annual report on the SDGs published by UN DESA with the support of a number of international, national and regional organisations. Based on best available data, according to the global indicator framework adopted by the UN Statistical Commission in March 2017, the report provides an overview of global implementation of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report shows that while progress has been made in all areas, the rate of improvements is currently insufficient to meet the SDGs targets by 2030. The report highlights the need for data which “are accurate, timely, sufficiently disaggregated, relevant, accessible and easy to use”, restating the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Stiftung jointly released the 2017 edition of the SDG Index and Dashboards Report. The report assesses the progress of 157 UN member states with regard to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and complements the official SDG monitoring from the UN (based on the official SDG indicators list). Its purpose is to assist countries to prioritise actions and identify challenges in the implementation of policies. The main contribution of this report is to measure and include in the assessment of each country the adverse “spillovers” that may be generated by the development patterns of rich countries and hinder the success of other countries in achieving the SDGs. For the overall SDG index, based on 99 indicators, a score between 0 and 100 is calculated for every country. For the SDG Index Sweden earned the highest score (85.6) followed by Denmark (84.2), Finland (84), and Norway (83.9), while the lowest score results to Central African Republic (36.7). Moreover, it should be mentioned that the spillover indicators lowered the total score for many high-income countries.
The World Bank has released the 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals. The report, through maps and visualisations, aims to illustrate global progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This work is part of the World Bank’s Word Development Indicators (WDI) initiative, which aims to provide cross-country comparisons of statistics on development. The atlas utilises existing WDI indicators, compiling more than 1,400 indicators from over 220 countries, with a timespan stretching over 50 years in some areas. For some of the goals new indicators have been added to the WDI database, or supplementary data has been used. A chapter of the report is dedicated to each of the 17 SDGs. Chapter 12 on Responsible consumption and production pays close attention to the issue of food waste. In general the report notes the high costs to the environment from economic growth. Both the main report and the Atlas are also available via interactive online tools.
The OECD published the 2017 edition of Green Growth Indicators, which is a series of reports published by OECD aiming aim at developing appropriate measures to monitor the progress of the OECD countries regarding four main objectives: the shift to a low-carbon; resource efficient economy; natural capital preservation; quality of life improvement; and utilization of the economic opportunities of green growth. The 2017 report shows that, although environmental pressures remain high, OECD countries enhanced their environmental productivity. However, natural resources continue to be under considerable stress with only freshwater constituting an exception. Moreover, people in OECD countries have experienced improvements in sanitation and waste treatment, but air pollution still poses a significant health risk. Regarding growth opportunities the indicators show lower investments in environmental related technologies, whereas the share of environmental related products on the market, development aid and international financial flows for environmental purposes have all risen. As of the environmental taxes, their use is slowly growing.
The OECD study measures the distance of a number OECD countries to the SDG targets, with an aim to help governments in developing national action plans as well as contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. The report evaluates where the 13 participating countries currently stand as regards SDGs and thereby how far they still have to “travel” to reach the targets by 2030. The 2017 report updates the 2016 pilot study with a wider set of indicators and a more refined methodology. Countries’ distance from individual targets is measured through 131 indicators, as compared to 86 in the pilot version, covering 98 targets across all 17 goals. This tool provides an overview of countries’ performance on the SDGs therefore helping them in identifying priorities for their 2030 agenda. The report shows that OECD countries are closest to reaching targets related to water, climate, biodiversity, cities, poverty and oceans, while they are further away to targets linked to gender equality, education, institutions, and economy and jobs.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released the report “World Health Statistics 2017: Monitoring health for the SDGs”. The 2017 report, covering 194 member countries, provides health data, including health coverage and access to services and expenditures. The first part gives details of the WHO’s work on improving health systems globally. The second part plays particular attention to 21 health related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets. The third part looks at success stories from countries which have improved their health performance in one of the WHO’s six lines of priority action. For example, one success story examines Ireland’s experience in reducing mortality from non-communicable diseases by 42% between 2000 and 2015, particularly by reducing air pollution.
Cigna, an American health insurance provider, has released the Live Well Report, including the results of the third edition of Cigna Well-being Survey. This survey tracks the evolution of health and well-being of people in 13 countries around the world. All 14,219 respondents are representatives of the non-elderly adult population of each of the surveyed market. Five key well-being components are explored: physical, financial, work health, family health and social health. The results show that well-being has decreased; from the previous survey in 2016, the total average score has dropped by 1.1 percent points from 63.4 to 62.3, with South Korea showing the largest drop. A rise in the overall score was observed in four countries, with Thailand showing the highest. The results indicate that there is a growing concern over families’ well-ness and their financial stability. Work wellness programs are also becoming more important.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network presented the US Cities Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Index, which covers 100 cities in the US, accounting for 70% of the population. Progress towards sustainable development is assessed based on data related to 53 indicators covering 16 of the 17 SDGs. Each indicator is scored from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best possible score. By providing an America-centric overview of sustainable development at the local level, the index aims to encourage local level action and set light on best practices. Provo-Orem in Utah results the best-performing city, while city regions like Detroit-Warren-Dearborn present the lowest scores. Overall, results show that all US cities have far to go to reach the SDGs.
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) published the 2016 Human Development Report, entitled Human Development for Everyone. The report includes the update for the Human Development Index (HDI), a composite indicator based on: life expectancy at birth, mean and expected years of schooling, and gross national income per capita. The 2016 report also includes four other composite indices, in view of getting a comprehensive overview of human development. These are the Inequality-adjusted HDI, the Gender Development Index, the Gender Inequality Index and the Multidimensional Poverty Index. The report shows that levels of human development have improved in all regions of the world between 1990 and 2015. However, inequality is still affecting global human development, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network published the 2017 World Happiness report on the International Day of Happiness. 155 countries were ranked by their happiness levels from 2014 to 2016. The fifth edition focuses on the role of social factors in supporting happiness, with a special chapter on happiness at the workplace. Moreover, China and Africa are explored in more detail. Among the factors affecting happiness, six of them contributed to three quarters of the total variation across time and countries: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity. Norway tops the global happiness ranking, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland, all scoring highly on the main factors supporting happiness.
At its 48th session meeting, the UN Statistical Commission adopted the global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert-Group, the framework includes an initial set of indicators which will be reviewed and refined yearly by the Statistical Commission. The global monitoring framework will allow the international community to monitor the progress towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at global level. During the same session, the Commission also adopted the Cape Town Global Action Plan which called for the commitment of governments, policy leaders and the international community to work together in order to achieve better data for the SDGs.
The Dubai Declaration titled “A commitment to city data as the universal language” was adopted at the 2017 WCCD Global Cities Summit. The Summit was organized by the General Secretariat of the Executive Council of Dubai, in partnership with the World Council on City Data (WCCD), and hosted 50 cities from around the world. The Declaration recognises the importance of cities around the world to take steps towards sustainability, resilience and prosperity. The aim is to bring forward three critically important agendas for 2030: inclusive cities, smart nations and a sustainable planet. Cities and city level data play a crucial role in ensuring citizens’ quality of life, as well as achieving a national, smart agenda for economic development and reaching sustainable development globally.
The UN-Habitat’s City Prosperity Initiative (CPI) enables city authorities, as well as local and national stakeholders, to make their cities more prosperous, identifying opportunities and potential areas of intervention. The initiative provides a metric, a policy dialogue and a monitoring framework for more than 300 cities. More specifically the CPI can provide a global framework for indicators and targets for Sustainable Development Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and identifies the City Prosperity Index. This composite index comprises 72 indicators, linked to both the SDGs and New Urban Agenda, grouped into 6 domains: productivity, infrastructure development, quality of life, equity and social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and urban governance and legislation. The index measures how cities create and distribute socio-economic benefits or prosperity and the overall achievements through the six categories.
The 2016 edition of the OECD’s Better Life Index (BLI) provides an overview of life satisfaction in 38 countries. With respect to previous editions, two additional countries, Latvia and South Africa, are included in the analysis. The index is built on 11 dimensions: jobs, housing, environment, income, health, access to services, civic engagement, education, safety, community and life satisfaction. According to the Index, Denmark and Norway and other Nordic nations, as well as in Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada and Australia show the highest life satisfaction. This is mainly due to high scores in employment levels, quality of jobs and population's health. Countries where life satisfaction is the lowest, employment levels and, frequently, life expectancy are below the OECD average. An online tool allows users to access the BLI data and input data according to their own preferences. So far over 110,000 people from 180 countries have used this tool.
On 11th March 2016, the United Nations (UN) Statistical Commission agreed on a set of 230 global indicators to measure progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in September 2015. This set of indicators will have to be further discussed and adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the General Assembly. The UN Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo, admitted that “refinements and improvements will be needed over the years” and that the SDG indicators “will require an unprecedented amount of data”. In July 2016, 21 countries will voluntarily participate to the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, aimed at monitoring the national and thematic reviews of the 2030 Agenda implementation.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has developed a preliminary SDG Index and a SDG Dashboard to complement the official monitoring process led by the United Nations. Both are unofficial measures assessing progress towards SDGs achievement not replacing official statistics. Based on currently available data, they are aimed at helping countries to mobilize stakeholders and identify priorities for early action. Both the SDG Index and Dashboard use the same metrics, though the methods of data analysis and aggregation differ. The Index allows to 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). The dashboard visually presents SDG data for each country and goal. Empirical evidence shows that even countries with a high ranking face significant challenges with respect to specific goals. Advice on how to fill some of the major data gaps will be collected until March 31st 2016 by the SDSN through a public consultation. A revised SDG Index will be issued before the High-Level Political Forum meeting in July 2016, aimed at reviewing progress towards implementing the SDGs.
The 2015 edition of the Human Development Report, annually published by the United Nations Development Programme, has been released. This edition is devoted to the analysis of work as a fundamental driver for enhancing human development. Not only formal employment is taken into account, but also informal work, including unpaid care jobs and volunteering. The link between work and human development is not automatic, as it depends on various conditions ranging from the quality of work for individuals to the societal value of work. A specific chapter focuses on sustainability: the UN led Sustainable Development Goals agenda aiming to improve human living conditions and opportunities by 2030 will impact on the status of human development.
The final Web-COSI (Web Communities for Statistic for Social Innovation) conference presented the main findings of a two year project. This project, funded by the European Commission and jointly led by ISTAT and the OECD, aimed to increase citizen engagement in statistics which provide new measures of social progress and well-being. The main output is the Web-COSI data portal on wikiprogress, providing an open source knowledge base of well-being and sustainability projects from across the globe. The platform provides users with access to data and contributes to both official and non-official data, thus increasing trust in collectively generated statistics. The project also carried out a number of initiatives aiming at engaging citizens, including a university programme, a youth portal, web competitions, crowd sourcing, workshops, conferences and webinars.
26. - 28.10.2015
Second meeting of the IAEG-SDGs
From August to September 2015, the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) conducted an open consultation on a global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The comments received from various organisations, civil society, academia and the private sector have been published on September 25th. The IAEG-SDGs will meet from 26-28 October in Bangkok to review the list on the basis of these comments and further develop the global indicators framework.
Find more information on the IAEG-SDGs meeting.
Read the summary of comments on the list of indicator proposals.
14. - 15.10.2015
Joint UNECE/OECD Seminar on the Implementation of System of Environmental-Economic Accounting
Jointly with the National Statistical Offices of Australia, Canada, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Netherlands and Sweden, Eurostat, UNECE and OECD have organised a seminar on the implementation of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), which is taking place in Geneva. The SEEA is a framework for producing internationally comparable statistics and indicators to monitor the interactions between the economy and the environment. The seminar provides a forum to share experiences on the SEEA implementation and its use for various policy needs. It also takes into account processes and initiatives where SEEA could be useful for developing indicators, such as the post-2015 Agenda or Beyond GDP.
Find more information.
13. - 15.10.2015
5th OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy
The 5th OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy will be held from 13 to 15 October 2015 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Hundreds of experts from government, international organisations, official statistics, civil society, business and academia will discuss how to apply well-being and sustainability measures to support policy making and improve people’s lives. They will also investigate how such measures can contribute to the definition of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be adopted this year.
Find more information.
OECD publishes third edition of “How’s life?”
The OECD report “How’s life? 2015” analyses eleven essential aspects of well-being in OECD and partner countries. This edition focuses on well-being inequalities within countries, child well-being and volunteering. It also introduces new measures to capture some of the natural, human, social and economic resources that are relevant for well-being. Results show that the richest OECD countries tend to perform better overall, especially with respect to material well-being. However, weak performances in job security, air quality, housing affordability and work-life balance may occur at any level of GDP per capita.
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3rd Meeting of High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress
The High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (HLEG) attached to the OECD, holds its third plenary meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico. The HLEG has been established to follow-up on the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission's recommendations. Its work focuses on four areas relevant for measuring economic performance and social progress: income and wealth inequality, multidimensional and global inequalities, multidimensional subjective well-being, and sustainability. The HLEG strives for providing impetus and guidance to various international initiatives as well as to the OECD’s own work on measuring well-being and progress.
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UN General Assembly adopts the Sustainable Development Goals
At the start of a three-day UN summit on sustainable development in New York, the UN General Assembly has formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 17 goals and related 169 targets aim at combating poverty, inequality and climate change over the next 15 years. The new targets supersede the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which guided global policy between 2000 and 2015. While the MDGs were mainly targeted at ending extreme poverty in developing countries, the SDGs also demand high-income countries to undertake domestic reforms.
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Zero draft for Sustainable Development Goals released
The Co-Chairs of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have issued their long awaited „zero draft“, which contains a proposal for 17 goals and 169 targets to be attained by 2030. This new set of goals, addressing issues such as global poverty, inequalities and climate change, should replace the original Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which will expire at the end of the year. The formal adoption of the SDGs will take place at the UN Summit from 25.-27.09.2015 in New York. Next step will be to develop indicators supporting the goals, which will be finalised in March 2016.
Find more information.
Read the zero draft document (pdf, 1.1 MB).
Waves Annual Report 2015 issued
The Waves (Wealth Accounting and the valuation of Ecosystem Services) global partnership has released its annual report, highlighting some of last year’s successes. The partnership aims at mainstreaming natural capital accounting (NCA) into development planning and national economic accounts in order to facilitate sustainable development. Among the implementing countries, several have started to include NCA in their development plans. In Guatemala, for example, forest accounts have informed the government of the extent of uncontrolled logging, leading to a National Strategy for Production and Use of Fuelwood. The paper also reports about the integration of wealth accounting data in Systematic Country Diagnosis (SCD), a tool used by the World Bank to assess countries‘ constraints and opportunities regarding poverty reduction and sustainable prosperity.
Read the Waves Annual Report 2015 (pdf, 8.2 MB).
World Happiness Report 2015 reveals happiest countries in the world
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has recently published the third edition of the World Happiness Report. Among the 10 countries showing the highest average life evaluations, there are only small or medium-sized western industrial countries, with Switzerland, Iceland and Denmark at the top. Changes in life evaluation between 2005-2007 and 2012-2014 might be related to a combination of differing exposure to the economic crisis and differences in the quality of governance, trust and social support. By far the largest drops could be observed in Greece and Egypt, followed by Italy. However, there is evidence that a high quality social capital can keep or even improve subjective well-being also in case of natural disasters or economic shocks. The 2015 report analyses a number of issues, among which the neuroscience of happiness and children's happiness.
Find more information.
Read the summary (pdf, 256.7 kB).
Read the full report (pdf, 7.5 MB).
OECD workshop on well-being over the life course
The OECD organises a workshop on modelling the causes of subjective well-being over the life course. This workshop aims to shed light on the drivers of well-being and whether the same causal mechanisms are relevant at different stages of people’s life course: several researchers present their modelling results based on longitudinal data for a number of countries. The findings will contribute defining the well-being agenda for the future.
Find more information on the workshop and registration.
25. - 26.02.2015
UN Expert Group Meeting discusses the Indicator framework for post-2015 agenda
On 25-26 February 2015 an Expert Group Meeting, organised by the UN Statistics Division, will be held in New York to discuss the indicator framework for the post-2015 development agenda. Participants include, among others, statistical experts, representatives of Member States, UN entities and UN specialised agencies. The meeting aims at discussing and agreeing on the organization of work on the indicator framework, the criteria for indicator selection and comments on numerical target setting. The outcomes of the meeting will be presented to the 46th session of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC 46) taking place from 23-27 March 2015.
Find more information on the event.
Find the report to the UNSC 46 on broader measures of progress (pdf, 466 kB).
17.02. - 17.03.2015
E-discussion on the development of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) invites the public to participate in the e-discussion on “Managing the transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): What will it take“, between 17 February and 17 March. The posts will be included in a summary report prepared by DESA and UNDP, which is expected to serve as an input into the UN Secretary-General’s report on the ECOSOC themes.
Find more information.