Tracking the Sustainable Development Goals: emerging measurement challenges and further reflections
The Sustainable Development Goals recently adopted by the United Nations represent an important step to identify shared global goals for development over the next two decades. Yet, the stated goals are not as straightforward and easy to interpret as they appear on the surface. Review of the Sustainable Development Goals indicators suggests that some further refinements to their wordings and clarifications to their underlying objectives would be useful. This paper brings attention to potential pitfalls with interpretation, where different evaluation methods can lead to different conclusions about country performance. The review of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals database highlights the overwhelming challenge with missing data: data are available for just over 50 percent of all the indicators and for just 19 percent of what is needed for comprehensively tracking progress across countries and over time. The paper offers further reflections and proposes some simple but cost-effective solutions to these challenges.