Counting critically: SDG ‘follow-up and review’ needs interlinked indicators, monitoring and evaluation

The following is taken from EVALSDGs‘ briefing paper, Counting critically: SDG ‘follow-up and review’ needs interlinked indicators, monitoring and evaluationEvalSDGs briefing 2


Global indicators are important for understanding progress towards each of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, they can mask sub-national and thematic variations. They cannot explain how or why change occurred or its significance to different stakeholders.

Evaluation helps to define and assess the worth, merit and significance of national policies in different contexts. This briefing introduces key considerations for the use of indicators, monitoring and evaluation of SDGs implementation, review and follow-up at the national level. It promotes the importance of context-sensitivity, broad stakeholder involvement and adaptive management approaches in efforts to achieve development results.

It is the second in a series of briefings discussing the role of evaluation in achieving the SDGs. Read the first, Evaluation: a crucial ingredient for SDG success.

Policy pointers

SDG indicators and monitoring data help track progress, but evaluation is needed to explain results and support change.

Achievement of SDGs involves context-specific challenges. Countries need context-sensitive measures that track efforts to attain goals, and evaluation methods that help determine what is working, for whom, under what circumstances, how and why.

Maintaining stakeholder involvement in follow-up and review processes will help national governments select the most relevant indicators, will inform their decisions and will foster widespread ownership of the development agenda.

Adaptive management will help governments explore emerging and alternative ways to meet objectives and targets, using knowledge from monitoring and evaluation to develop new understanding and appropriate ways of acting.

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