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Tracking the Sustainable Development Goals: Emerging Measurement Challenges and Further Reflections


  • Dang, Hai-Anh H.
  • Fu, Haishan
  • Serajuddin, Umar


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recently adopted by the United Nations represent an important step to identify shared global goals for development over the next two decades. Yet, the stated goals are not as straightforward and easy to interpret as they appear on the surface. Review of the SDG indicators suggests that some further refinements can be made to their wordings, and their underlying objectives can be further clarified. We bring attention to potential pitfalls with interpretation, where different evaluation methods can lead to different conclusions about country performance. Review of the United Nations’ SDG database highlights the overwhelming challenge with missing data: data are available for just over half of all indicators and for just 19 percent of what is needed to comprehensively track progress across countries and over time. We offer further reflections and propose some simple but cost-effective solutions to these challenges.

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  • Dang, Hai-Anh H. & Fu, Haishan & Serajuddin, Umar, 2019. "Tracking the Sustainable Development Goals: Emerging Measurement Challenges and Further Reflections," GLO Discussion Paper Series 327, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:327

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    Cited by:

    1. Jerónimo Puertas & María Bermúdez, 2020. "Development of a Global SDG Progress Index Aimed at “Leaving No One Behind”," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(10), pages 1-13, May.

    More about this item


    SDGs; monitoring; data challenges; survey data; international organization;

    JEL classification:

    • F00 - International Economics - - General - - - General
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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