We are pleased to present the 2017 edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index and Dashboards that have been jointly developed by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). This year's edition includes revised and additional metrics for the SDGs bringing the total to 99 indicators. We also introduce several refinements to the methodology and extend coverage from 149 to 157 of the 193 UN member states. Results are therefore not strictly comparable with the 2016 edition. We are grateful to the many organizations and individuals who have helped us improve the SDG Index and Dashboards.
The SDGs are a universal agenda of sustainable development, calling on all nations to pursue a holistic strategy that combines economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. We are gratified that throughout the world, local and national governments are rallying around the goals, seeking ways to incorporate them into planning processes.
Businesses, universities, and civil society are also recognizing that the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement (incorporated into the sustainable development agenda as SDG 13) require a new orientation of strategy and national planning.
The purpose of the SDG Index and Dashboards is to assist countries to identify priorities for action, in order to achieve the 17 SDGs. The indicators and dashboards should help countries to pinpoint key implementation challenges and the overall index permits an assessment of progress towards the goals and a comparison with peer countries.
We applaud the large number of countries stepping forward to make Voluntary National Reports on their progress in implementing the SDGs at the High-Level Political Forum. We also note that the design and implementation of the official SDG indicators is making significant progress following their formal adoption by the UN Statistics Commission. The SDG Index and Dashboards are complementary to official SDG monitoring. They are not an official product endorsed by any governments or the United Nations.
Based on our scrutiny of the relevant data available for tracking the SDGs, the SDG Index and Dashboards present these data in a way that we believe and hope to be informative, insightful, and interesting for policy makers and the public.
Where possible we use the official SDG indicators and fill gaps in data availability with variables published by reputable sources. We have constructed the various measures for each SDG so that they immediately indicate a country’s position on a 0-to-100 spectrum from the “worst” (score 0) to the “best” (score 100).
The SDGs rightly emphasize a universal agenda that requires all countries – both rich and poor alike – to take decisive actions to support sustainable development. In this year’s report we note that development patterns of the rich countries may generate adverse “spillovers” that may hinder the ability of poorer countries’ to achieve the SDGs. For example, the high consumption levels, banking secrecy and tax havens, and weapons exports, by the rich countries may severely inhibit sustainable development in poorer and more vulnerable countries. On the other hand, international development finance by high-income donor nations also directly supports the SDGs.
Many of the adverse spillovers tend to be neglected or poorly measured in official development statistics. The 2017 SDG Index and Dashboards therefore reviews the scientific and policy literature to identify the best available data for quantifying such complex spillovers. We show that there are indeed many such adverse global spillovers to consider and that they are indeed driven strongly by high-income countries. We believe that such adverse spillovers deserve much greater attention by national and international efforts to achieve the SDGs and by statistical agencies. We know that our report only is a start on such analyses and should be understood in that spirit.
The SDG Index and Dashboards show that data on important SDG priorities are sometimes unavailable or out of date or not yet counted on the official list of indicators. Filling these gaps and ensuring that key measures are included among the official indicators will require improved metrics as well as more and better data. One priority for SDG implementation must therefore be to invest in strengthening data collection, choice of indicators, and statistical capacity in all countries.
The 2017 SDG Index and Dashboards report generates “tough grading” for all countries, including the richest ones. We choose this approach not to be punitive or pessimistic about the prospects for dramatic improvements, but to draw attention to the most urgent SDG-related challenges facing each country for each SDG.
We hope that in addition to governments, other SDG stakeholders will find this report interesting and useful. Business, civil society organizations, foundations, universities, the media, and others will all play a vital role in turning the SDGs into practical tools for explaining sustainable development, managing implementation, ensuring accountability, and reporting on progress at local, national, regional, and global levels. This report and the companion website (www.sdgindex.org) provide rich information to help inform these discussions.
To support SDG implementation at local levels, the SDSN is launching a preliminary SDG Index and Dashboards for cities in the United States of America. Similar analyses can be conducted for cities and provinces elsewhere. We are also planning to work with SDSN partners to develop deeper indicators and new SDG Indices and Dashboards to focus on specific challenges in major regions around the world.
In addition to the SDG Index and Dashboards report, Bertelsmann Stiftung is contributing to many SDGs with its operational and data-related work to promote social inclusion, improve education, shape democracy, advance society, promote health, vitalize culture and strengthen economies. For example, our assessment at the local level (Monitor Nachhaltige Kommune) analyzes the sustainability of German local communities. We also undertake monitoring projects on health, education, social cohesion, and governance to identify best practices.
We look forward to the opportunity to improve the quality and coverage of the SDG Index and Dashboards, including ways to understand trend data. We encourage and welcome feedback on the usefulness and limitations of the SDG Index and Dashboards, and advice from all parts of the global community on how the report can be made more useful and accurate in the coming years.
Aart de Geus,
Chairman and CEO, Bertelsmann Stiftung
Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network
AuthorsJeffrey Sachs, Guido Schmidt-Traub, Christian Kroll, David Durand-Delacre, and Katerina Teksoz.
Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Durand-Delacre, D. and Teksoz, K. (2017): SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2017. New York: Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
David Durand-Delacre was responsible for the data collection and management. Guido Schmidt-Traub led the technical analysis. He and Christian Kroll co-directed the project under overall supervision from Jeffrey Sachs.
Publication design and layout by Pica Publishing.