We Need to Monitor and Track Progress towards the Achievement of the Global Goals
This is not the first time I have written an article like this; however, the closer we become to the 2030 deadline for the achievement of the 17 goals and their 169 targets, the more I worry about our lack of monitoring and data collection around the targets, in line with the 232 indicators.
There are a few different aspects of reporting that need to factored into the equation to ensure no one is left behind in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, the world’s most ambitious economic, social and environmental development agenda to date.
17 Goals | 169 Targets | 232 Indicators
To achieve any single goal or target, the other 16 goals and 168 targets must be achieved. None of the goals or targets can be achieved in isolation because it would mean that a part of the equation of achievement is missing. For example, gender equality cannot be achieved unless we are ending the gender inequality in poverty, hunger and malnutrition, health and well-being, education, water and sanitation, employment and a variety of other cases.
Currently, the worldwide report for the progress on the Global Goals, the SDG Index, only measures progress against a handful of targets, which can place some countries higher in their achievement of the goals than what they actually are. In one of the first reports, Australia was a leading country in terms of our access to clean water and sanitation despite having severe water restrictions in certain parts of the country facing extreme drought and certain regional and rural communities who do not have access to clean water.
In order to get a holistic picture of our progress towards the Global Goals, all indicators need to be reported on.
Reporting for All Australians
We need to ensure data is being collected for every person and in every area across the entire nation. If we focus on collecting data in cities alone, we will risk leaving the remote population behind in our achievement of the goals. A significant population for which data needs to be collected is the country’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population as it is vital that we close the gap on all targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda.
Supply Chain Reporting
This is possibly one of the most difficult aspects of data collection and reporting but arguably the most important. One look at the SDG Index rankings shows the countries leading in their progress towards achieving the Global Goals are some of the world’s most developed and affluent countries. While this is to be expected as these countries have the resources to spend on different projects which would work towards the achievement of the goals and targets, it is important to discuss the supply chain in this instance. Many products of these countries are bought from economically, socially and environmentally unsustainable suppliers. For example, as I type this article, I am working on a desk which could be made from unsustainable timber from another country, using a laptop which quite possibly was made (or at least materials were sourced) through slave labour. However, this will not be included in Australia’s report card — this will be recorded on the scorecard of the country in which these practices happen, even though I as the consumer am enabling and encouraging these practices. Luckily, the dress I am wearing comes from an organisation engaged in good sustainability practices but as I look around the room, I wonder how many other people could say the same about their clothes.
As consumers in countries performing higher on the SDG Index become more aware of their purchase decisions, we will see the countries performing lower in the achievement of the Global Goals start to improve their ‘score’. This will happen due to the shift in where profits lie — as more consumers become attracted to companies engaged in sustainability practices, companies will take greater action to ensure their supply chain is sustainable, giving fair and just employment to people in developing countries, which creates better outcomes for the social targets of the goals. We will also see greater progress towards environmental goals and targets with the adoption of cleaner manufacturing processes as part of this same shift.
It is vital that action is taken immediately to ensure we are accurately and comprehensively measuring our achievement towards the 17 goals and the 169 targets in accordance with the 232 indicators for all Australians to ensure we are able to direct funding and investment towards the areas of the agenda and the population which are in most need of resources for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.