Note to the reader

Global indicator framework for the follow-up and review of the Sustainable Development Goals

The information presented in this report is based on the latest available data as of May 2018 on selected indicators of the global SDG framework. The indicators presented are those for which sufficient data are available to provide an overview at the regional and global levels. The global indicator framework 1 was developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) and adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017 in resolution 71/313. This set of indicators is intended for the review of progress at the global level.

The selection of indicators in this report is not intended to represent a selection based on their importance, as all Goals, targets and indicators are equally important.

The composition of regions and subregions in this report is based on United Nations geographic 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 Economic and Social Council 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 is available at https://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.

Investing in data for the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals

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 General Assembly 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). The Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data, adopted at the 48th Session of the Statistical Commission in 2017, provides a roadmap for the modernization and strengthening of statistical systems.

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. The collaboration between national statistical systems and regional and international organizations is essential for ensuring an effective flow of international comparable data. Such mechanisms can be improved by strengthening the coordination function of national statistical offices in the national statistical systems.

Producing data for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda requires strong political commitment and increased resources to support global and national efforts to strengthen statistical systems. 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 available at https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/indicators/indicators-list.
2 The composition of these subregions is shown in the next section, “Regional groupings”.