Measuring Progress on the SDGs: Multi-level Reporting

In September 2015, heads of state will adopt Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals will chart out a universal holistic framework to help set the world on a path towards sustainable development, by addressing economic development, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and good governance.

The agenda laid out by the Open Working Group on the SDGs (OWG) in July 2014 is the main basis for the Post-2015 intergovernmental process, which began on 19 January 2015. From now until the September summit, Member States will further review the goals and targets. They will also consider the means of implementation, the nature of a new Global Partnership, and a framework for monitoring and review of implementation.

As underscored by the OWG, the focus of reporting on the SDGs must be at the national level. Each country will choose the indicators that are best suited to track its own progress towards sustainable development. Yet, the Goals also describe a global agenda, including some global public goods that cannot be implemented by any country on its own. Success will require international coordination and collaboration, which in turn requires accountability and monitoring at global level. In addition, regional monitoring and accountability will play a critical role in fostering regional collaboration and coherence in strategies to pursue the SDGs. A fourth and critical level of monitoring occurs in each thematic or epistemic community.

The four levels of monitoring – national, regional, global, and thematic – are laid out in the Secretary-General’s synthesis report. The report calls for “a culture of shared responsibility, one based on agreed universal norms, global commitments, shared rules and evidence, collective action and benchmarking for progress.” This culture of accountability must be particularly strong at the national level, “building on existing national and local mechanisms and processes, with broad, multi-stakeholder participation.”

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