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Sustainable Development Goals and 100 Indicators: The SDSN Final Report

May 26, 2015: A long awaited report in the making as a post-2015 collaborative stakeholders' initiaitive has come to fruition: ''The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has recently published its final report on Indicators and a Monitoring Framework for the Sustainable Development Goals: Launching a data revolution for the SDGs. This report is the result of over 18 months of consultations led by the SDSN with the contributions of nearly 500 organizations and thousands of individuals – draft versions of the report have so far been downloaded over 80,000 times. The full report is available at unsdsn.org/indicators.

The complex collaborative process involved consensus building interactions in all regions and resulted in specifying a framework and 100 indicators with critical priorities for growing the impact of the MDGs and addressing current and evolving needs for international development. As anticipated based on experience with MDGs implementation, donor funding will emerge to sustain and scale the prioritized goals.

Sustainable Development Solutions Network Executive Director, Guido Schmidt-Traub, emailed the Report publication with this synopsis: 'The report outlines a tiered monitoring framework at the national, global, regional, and thematic levels, and presents a concise set of 100 Global Monitoring Indicators. This limited number of indicators can comprehensively track all 169 OWG targets while balancing countries’ capacities and domestic monitoring commitments. This report is a contribution to the ongoing post-2015 processes, including the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the SDGs (IEAG-SDGs).
This is the final version of the report, though the list of Global Monitoring Indicators may be periodically updated as experts agree on metrics or new ones are developed to fill the identified gaps. These updates will be posted to unsdsn.org/indicators.

In discussing the thematic strategy, authors of the report suggests that learnings from MDGs data collection informed this SDGs data revolution approach:

'To achieve the SDGs, complex challenges must be addressed across a broad range of sectors and thematic areas, such as health, education, agriculture, nutrition, the water-energy nexus, sustainable consumption and production patterns, or infrastructure design. Lessons learned in one country can inform progress in other countries. Similarly, implementation challenges and technology gaps are often common across countries, so major thematic communities need to be mobilized globally in support of the SDGs. These thematic or epistemic communities should focus on monitoring progress and challenges in implementation.

Thematic communities – often under the leadership of specialized international organizations –develop specialist indicators for monitoring and accountability that are tracked in countries across the globe. Often these indicators include input and process metrics that are helpful complements to official indicators, which tend to be more outcome-focused (Figure 2).

The implementation of the MDGs provides good examples for effective thematic monitoring under the auspices of international organizations, universities, civil society organizations, and business groups (Box 3). In particular, the health sector provides important lessons on how increased collaboration between diverse groups has improved the frequency and quality of data.14 What was previously a fragmented sector successfully managed to bring together data producers, users, and analysts, and, as a result, the health-related MDG indicators have the highest level of data availability and reporting frequency.' (p.14)