Reliable data collection and data evaluation, for example concerning the quantity and quality of harvests, form the basis for the development of indicators in the implementation of strategies for achieving the SDGs and for measuring progress.
Photos: A. Dobermann


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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will amount to little unless backed by reliable indicators. Only with good metrics can the agenda be implemented and progress measured. Just like the SDGs themselves, the indicators are still in the discussion phase, with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) one of the many players in this process. They outline their recommendations in the following article, using rural development as an example to describe them.

The Sustainable Development Goals will confirm global aspirations for improving human well-being, while their targets will define success. To achieve these objectives clear roadmaps and robust indicators will be needed at the national and sub-national level. Indicators are both a management tool to help countries develop evidence-based implementation strategies for achieving the SDGs and a report card to measure progress and ensure accountability to a broad range of stakeholders. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) proposes the following principles to select strong indicators:

Limited in number: There are infinite ways to measure progress; therefore, there must be a conscious limiting of the number of metrics. Evidence-based indicators associated with well-tested methodologies and guidelines should be chosen. There will be trade-offs between metrics in terms of precision, scale and cost that are going to require a clear vision of measurement objectives at the start (Barrett, 2010).

Clear, with straightforward policy implications: Indicators should be easy to understand and communicate to all stakeholders.

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