We have SDGs now, but how do we measure them?

This post is written by Kate Anderson, Senior Policy Analyst and Associate Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Center for Universal Education and first appeared on the Brookings Education + Development blog

Does the world agree on the definition of a mountain? Is internet access a “basic service” for all people? Should the same-sized cities in China and Jamaica be held to the same standards?

Last week in Bangkok, 28 statistics experts from around the world discussed these questions in order to figure out how the new Sustainable Development Goals can be measured. The 17 goals include things like working toward inclusive and equitable education for all (goal 4). Of course, declaring such an admirable goal is the easy part; it’s much harder to figure out how to measure such things, and thus know if progress is being made.

In Bangkok, members of the so-called Inter-Agency and Expert Group (IAEG-SDGs) convened from their national governments around the world and, in collaboration with others working in statistics and global development, the collective task was to identify quantifiable, numerical indicators for each of the SDGs ratified last September by the United Nations member states—and for each of the 169 sub-targets that fall under those 17 goals. The deadline is March 2016.

Even before Bangkok, several drafts of proposed indicators had been shared, so that going into the meeting there were already over 200 proposed indicators with varying levels of agreement. There were indicators categorized as green, meaning there was general agreement and only slight changes were needed; yellow, meaning there were some unresolved issues; and gray, meaning more in-depth discussion and methodology development is needed. Only the yellow indicators were to be discussed in Bangkok and turned to either green or gray by the expert group on a consensus basis. Sounds easy, right?

Read the full post here

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