Are the Sustainable Goals questioned by outdated and unilateral approaches of measurement?

The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) have been confirmed by all 193 member states. The Basel Institute is a contributor to various groups discussing and enhancing both the implementation as well as the measurement of the UN SDG.
On July 16th 2016 the Bertelsmann Foundation and the UNSDSN launched a Sustainable Development Goals Index (SDGI) that ranks the progress of countries to achieving the SDG.
The following table compares the rankings of the SDGI with the rankings of the nine indices included in the Global Index Benchmark:

In short the major results of the review/audit of the SDGI are:

– The ranking of the SDGI is entirely redundant (16 out of 20 Top SDG countries among the Top 20 of the Benchmark) with the other indices using aggregated data on development.
– The SDGI is unilateral biased and disadvantages countries in poverty, crisis and conflict who can’t finance the public goods that are measured in the sub-indicators of the SDG.
– All indices are favouring the countries where they were created: Australia, Germany, UK, US and Switzerland are among the Top 20.
– While measuring effects of GDP the indices disadvantage countries that can not influence their GDP by printing money.

Due to the first results of the World Social Capital Monitor and the release of the Excel of the Global Index Benchmark the Basel Institute of Commons and Economics applied for the participation in the IAEG-SDG, the UN Inter Agency Expert Group on the measurement of the SDG. The group, according to its terms of reference, consists of 28 National Statistical Offices and external experts from Academia and Civil Society.
In September 2016 the application of Basel Institute has been accepted and the Institute commented among 70 other contributors. The comments can be downloaded in this Excel here, which has been provided by the IAEG-SDG.
In an article on Global Policy Watch the discussions have been summarized. Among the quotes was the statement of Basel Institute, that GDP should no longer being considered for many sub-indicators.
On March 3rd  2017 Basel Institute, after a second application including the CV of Alexander Dill and references for public presentations (Video link!), has been invited to join the 5th session of the IAEG-SDG in Ottawa, Canada, hosted by Statistics Canada.

After sending the Excel to members of the UN Statistical Commission on March 7th, Basel Institute has been disinvited from the meeting on March 9th 2017 reclaiming that the invitation happened ‚by error‘.

German MoP Uwe Kekeritz: Can the current measurement diminish the acceptance for the Sustainable Goals?

On March 16th the German Member of Parliament and Speaker for Development Issues of the party DIE GRÜNEN wrote to the German Federal Government:

How does the Federal Government addresses the critics in Global Policy Watch that the current indicators to measuring the SDG, especially the unofficial SDG Index by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) give a biased perspective on the Sustainable Goals by narrowly focussing on economic growth, not sufficiently considering cross-border effects such as climate gas emissions and by neglecting social goods? 
Does the Federal Government share the estimate that the overall acceptance of the SDG can be questioned due to the limited perspective of the currrent approach on measurement?

German: Wie begegnet die Bundesregierung der u.a. von Global Policy Watch geäußerten Kritik, dass die aktuellen Indikatoren zur SDG-Messung, insbesondere der inoffizielle SDG-Index des Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) und der Bertelsmann Stiftung, durch ihren stark verengenden Fokus auf das Wirtschaftswachstum, und durch die nicht ausreichende Berücksichtigung grenzüberschreitender Faktoren, wie des CO2- Ausstoßes- sowie durch die Vernachlässigung von Sozialgütern ein verzerrtes Bild von der Bilanz der Nachhaltigkeitsziele zeichnet (https://www.globalpolicywatch.org/blog/2017/03/10/the-wrong-message-redundancy-and-unilateralism-in-measuring-the-sdgs/ ) und teilt die Bundesregierung Einschätzung, dass dieser Ansatz – der Fortschritte der Entwicklungsländer nur bedingt messen kann – die Akzeptanz der SDGs insgesamt in Frage stellen könnte?

We will continuing to report on the issue here.


Barbara Adams and Karen Judd, Refining the Indicators: Opening the process, open for influence? November 11th 2016 in: Globalpolicywatch

Dill, Alexander, The wrong message. Redundancy and unilateralism in measuring the SDGs. in: Globalpolicywatch, March 10th 2017:

Dill, Alexander; Gebhart, Nicolas, Redundancy, Unilateralism and Bias beyond GDP – Results of a Global Index Benchmark:

Interagency Expert Group on measuring the SDG: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/iaeg-sdgs/

Bertelsmann/SDSN SDG Index: http://www.sdgindex.org/

UN Sustainable Development Goals: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/


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