The adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2015 could potentially transform the way countries and cities develop for the foreseeable future. For the SDGs to realise this potential, they will require indicators and tools for measuring, analysing and communicating the progress over time at both international and national levels.
Against this backdrop, in 2015, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) initiated a project on “Sustainable Development Goals, Targets and Indicators” which focuses on SDG indicators, data collection and the analysis of the interlinkages of SDG targets. A lot of policy documents and scientific literature point out that SDGs and targets interact with each other in an indivisible way. Achieving one goal or target may contribute to achieving other goals or targets. For example, enhanced food security (Goal 2), full and productive employment and decent work (Goal 8) and reduction of inequality (Goal 10) will reinforce poverty eradication (Goal 1). The pursuit of one objective may conflict with the achievement of another. For example, an increase in agricultural production to help end hunger (Goal 2) can result in an increase in water use for irrigation which may compete with water demand for achieving universal access to drinking water (Goal 6). The SDGs and targets form a complicated network of interlinkages. Analysing the interlinkages can help minimise conflicts, avoid trade-offs and seek synergies for making achievements inclusively across all 17 SDG areas.
The project identifies the interlinkages for SDG targets based on the knowledge obtained from relevant international consultation processes, such as the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) under the United Nations Statistical Commission and the Indicators and a Monitoring Framework for Sustainable Development Goals initiated by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) , and through literature review. The interlinkages are further quantified for nine Asian countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Viet Nam) based on the indicators and their time series data for the targets. Identification of the indicators are based on the SDSN’s proposed 100 Global Monitoring Indicators and corresponding data sources. Using Social Network Analysis techniques, the interlinkages between SDG targets can be visualised and analysed . A group of experts from different divisions of IGES collaborated to implement this timely project.
The project’s ultimate objective is to support policy integration for SDG implementation and monitoring by providing a practical tool on the analysis of the interlinkages between SDG targets. Main research tasks include the following:
While the 17 goals and related 169 targets were adopted during the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, finalisation of the indicators for monitoring the progress of the SDGs is ongoing. There are two notable international processes working on SDG indicators. In June 2015, the SDSN proposed a set of 100 Global Monitoring Indicators that were developed through 18 months of consultations with contributions from nearly 500 organisations and thousands of individuals. On the other hand, the IAEG-SDGs provided a proposal of 232 indicators for consideration by the Statistical Commission at its 47th Session in February 2016. There are significant similarities between the two sets of indicators. The major difference is the comprehensiveness and the level of disaggregation (gender and age group, etc.) of a given indicator. Due to the timing and unavailability of the indicators proposed by the IAEG-SDGs during the initial stage of this project, the Global Monitoring Indicators proposed by the SDSN were used as the main reference for the identification of the indicators which are trackable with data ( Click to see the correspondence table on the SDGs, targets and identified indicators ).
The project consists of the following components:
The geographical coverage in this project—nine Asian countries—is based on IGES expertise in these countries. In addition, this regional coverage (with representative countries from East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia) comprises a unique group that plays an increasingly important role in the global economy. Focusing on a limited number of countries also helps to conduct more in-depth country-specific studies. Similar research can be duplicated and extended to other countries when the required data is available.
The results of the project are expected to support policymakers at the national as well as local levels envisage, prioritise, integrate and implement the SDGs.