A note to the reader

Global indicator framework for the follow-up and review of the SDGs

The information presented in this report is based on the latest available data as of May 2016 on selected indicators of the global SDG framework. The indicators presented are those for which there are sufficient data available to provide an overview at the regional and global level. The global indicator framework1 was developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) and agreed to, as a practical starting point, at the 47th session of the United Nations Statistical Commission in March 2016. This set of indicators is intended for the review of progress at the global level. The selection of the indicators in this report does not intend to represent a selection of the targets based on their importance, as all Goals and targets are equally important and will need to be addressed by the appropriate indicators.

The composition of regions and subregions in this report is based on United Nations geographical divisions, with some modifications necessary to create, to the extent possible, groups of countries for which a meaningful analysis could be carried out.2

Data sources and the basis for this analysis

For most of the indicators presented in this report, values represent regional and/or subregional aggregates. In general, the figures are weighted averages of country data, using the population of reference as a weight. They are calculated from national data collected by international agencies, based on their respective mandates and specialized expertise, from national statistical systems. The national data provided to the international statistical system are often adjusted for international comparability and, where lacking, are estimated. As decided by the Statistical Commission and in accordance with United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolution 2006/6, estimates used for the compilation of global indicators are to be produced in full consultation with national statistical authorities. A database of available global, regional and country data and metadata for the SDG indicators accompanying this report is being maintained by the United Nations Statistics Division and will be available at unstats.un.org/sdgs.

Although the aggregate figures presented are a convenient way to track progress, the situation of individual countries within a given region may vary significantly from regional averages. Presenting aggregate figures for all regions also obscures another reality: the lack, in many parts of the world, of adequate data to assess national trends and to inform and monitor the implementation of development policies.

Improving data quality and availability

Quality data are vital for governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector and the general public to make informed decisions and to ensure an accurate review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. That said, tracking progress on the SDGs requires the collection, processing, analysis and dissemination of an unprecedented amount of data and statistics at subnational, national, regional and global levels, including those derived from official statistical systems and from new and innovative data sources.

Many national statistical systems across the globe face serious challenges in this regard. As a result, accurate and timely information about certain aspects of people’s lives are unknown, numerous groups and individuals remain “invisible,” and many development challenges are still poorly understood. In resolution 70/1, Member States recognized the crucial role of strengthened data collection and capacity-building and committed to addressing the data gap (paragraph 57).

Where possible, global monitoring should be based on comparable and standardized national data obtained through well-established reporting mechanisms from countries to the international statistical system. Such mechanisms can be improved by strengthening the coordination function of national statistical offices and/or other national institutions. To fill data gaps and improve international comparability, countries will need to adopt internationally agreed standards, while the international statistical community will work closely with development partners and other stakeholders to strengthen national statistical capacities and improve reporting mechanisms. International and regional organizations and regional mechanisms play a significant role in facilitating these processes.

The success of these global initiatives will require capacity-building efforts and the mobilization of resources. In addition, new data sources and technologies for data collection and for the integration of different sources of data will need to be explored, including through partnerships with civil society, the private sector and academia. The integration of geospatial information and statistical data will be particularly important for the production of a number of indicators.

1 The complete list of indicators is presented in Annex IV of the Report of the Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (E/CN.3/2016/2/Rev.1).
2 The composition of these subregions is shown in the next section “Regional groupings”.