UN Statistical Commission Considers Proposed SDGs Indicators

47unsc8 March 2016: Delegates to the the UN Statistical Commission's 47th session (UNSC) welcomed the set of global indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the Inter-Agency Expert Group (IAEG-SDGs) as a preliminary framework and basis for future work. At the end of discussion on the IAEG's indicator proposal, and proposed plans for futher work, the UNSC Secretariat presented a draft resolution for members' consideration and action on 11 March 2016.

UNSC's 47th Session is taking place from 8-11 March 2016, in New York, US.

On the IAEG-SDGs report, participants emphasized that: the proposed indicator framework is for use in follow-up and review of global progress; sustained capacity building efforts will be needed in most countries in order to produce the indicators, and especially in African countries, the least developed countries (LDCs), small island developing States (SIDS), and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs); national ownership will be key, but agreed indicators data should be comparable and standardized; and there needs to be coordination and cooperation between the national statistics offices (NSOs) and regional and international organizations.

Thailand for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China) stressed that the follow-up and review process should be voluntary, country-led, and respect national policy priorities and the national space of countries, and the work of the IAEG-SDGs must be accompanied by capacity-building efforts. Supported by India, he cautioned against “prematurely” closing the work on the indicators. India noted the need for further technical work to achieve a consensus set of indicators. Thailand also called for respecting the political balance reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, noting that the proposed indicators emphasize the responsibility of national governments over the responsibility of development partners with regard to the SDGs' means of implementation. China said the indicator framework should reflect the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR).

The Netherlands, for the EU, supported by Italy, highlighted the need to clarify the role of NSOs vis-à-vis national and regional organizations, in order to avoid double reporting. Though the EU recognized that NSOs are in the "driver's seat," he stressed that the focus needs to be on cooperation between stakeholders and national, regional and international organizations. He underscored that capacity building is required not only for the developing countries, but for most developed countries too, and called for making use of existing monitoring frameworks.

Zambia, for the LLDCs, called for disaggregating data by groups of vulnerable countries for all the SDGs, not only for those where they are mentioned. Sweden said the IAEG's continued work must be purely technical. He added that the indicators' further development must aim to cover fully the SDGs as agreed. Supported by Japan, he opposed referring to CBDR as it is "a political consideration" and UNSC should remain a technical expert group.

Cuba called for designing methodology to integrate "other sources of data." The US, UK, China, Thailand and Sweden proposed finding consensus language on national ownership. New Zealand highlighted that it will report on SDGs based on its own priorities, existing frameworks and processes, giving priority to those of greatest relevance for New Zealand and those with the potential for greatest benefit. Bangladesh, for the LDCs, called for more indicators for several targets, such as target 17.8 on the operationalization of a technology bank for the LDCs, which he said is not adequately covered by the current indicator on the number of people using the internet, and target 1.a on resource mobilization for poverty eradication, where proposed indicators do not track development cooperation.

Bahamas, supported by Suriname, said: the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has proposed that the IAEG-SDGs develop a dual set of Goals, targets and indicators, which would include a smaller, core set of indicators that are measurable for SIDS, and which they would able to produce as a starting point. China said SDG 16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels) has too many proposed indicators, while SDG 17 (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development) has too few, and the indicators set should focus on priority areas.

India noted with concern that some indicators rely on perception (10.3.1, 16.6.2) and will require “significant additional work" to produce at a global level, while other indicators overemphasize national action. For example, he said indicator 12.1.1. neglects the agreement contained in target 12.1 to implement the 10-year framework of programmes (10YFP) on sustainable consumption and production (SCP), "with developed countries taking the lead."

The Dominican Republic said none of the SDG 14 indicators have ever been produced, and Goals 11 and 15 also present difficulties. The UK expressed hope for progress on indicator 3.8.2 on universal health care (Fraction of the population protected against catastrophic/impoverishing out-of-pocket health expenditure). Japan expressed disappointment that consultations took place on some contentious indicators just before UNSC 47 began, and did not include non-members of the IAEG-SDGs. He noted that Annex IV of the report contains new indicators, including 3.8.2.

Many speakers expressed support for the proposed programme of further work by the IAEG-SDGs, and its proposed terms of reference. Member States also voiced views and recommendations with regard to the High-Level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for post 2015 monitoring (HLG), including to welcome the concept note for the World Data Forum. [IISD RS Sources] [UNSC 47] [IISD RS Stories on UNSC 47] [IISD RS Twitter Feed]