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News article8 July 2019

Behind the numbers: JRC audits two major indexes related to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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With the growing momentum towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and just ahead of the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York, two international indexes measuring progress on sustainable development issues were launched this month: the Sustainable Development Goals Index and Dashboards (SDG Index) and the EM2030 Sustainable Development Goals Gender Index (SDG Gender Index).

The European Commission’s Competence Centre on Composite Indicators and Scoreboards (COIN) at the Joint Research Centre (JRC), renowned for its expertise on methodologies on the development of indexes and for having reviewed over 100 indexes in a variety of policy domains, was invited by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and by the Equal Measures 2030 (EM2030) to audit their respective indexes.

Indexes are powerful policy advocacy and formulation tools. When multidimensional concepts, such as sustainable development or gender equality, cannot be captured by a single indicator alone, indexes are able to synthetize large and complex data sets into a single figure. However, the process of building an index is not straightforward and faces many conceptual and methodological challenges. For this, the JRC research team provides index developers with a statistical audit of their indexes with the aim of providing suggestions to improve the reliability and transparency of the index results.

“Drawing on several technical consultations and a formal review by the COIN team at the EU Joint Research Centre, EM2030 refined the initial index framework” states the Equal Measures 2030 team in their report. According to the 2019 SDG Gender Index, with just 11 years to go until 2030, nearly 40% of the world’s girls and women – 1.4 billion – live in countries failing on gender equality. No country in the world has reached the “last mile” on gender equality.

Likewise, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of SDSN, states that “all countries have a big job ahead to create SDG roadmaps and strategies for success” following the findings of the Sustainable Development Report 2019, audited by the JRC (see JRC blog article).

Both the SDG Index and the SDG Gender Index propose a first-of-its-kind composite measure to track progress on SDGs at national and global level. They provide an evidence based and inspirational call for action towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Download the reports

JRC Statistical Audit of the SDG Index and Dashboards

JRC Statistical Audit of the SDG Gender Index

Are you interested to deepen your knowledge on composite indicators and scoreboards? Then save the date for the JRC Week on Composite Indicators and Scoreboards: 4 to 8 November 2019, Ispra, Italy.

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Publication date
8 July 2019