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The ESDN Quarterly Reports provide in-depth documentation of a selected topic on a quarterly basis. The current ESDN Quarterly Report is displayed below. For previous ESDN Quarterly Reports click here.

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ESDN Quarterly Report April 2018

SDG Indicators and Monitoring: Systems and Processes at the Global, European, and National Level

by Eric Mulholland, Asya Dimitrova & Markus Hametner

The well-known maxim: ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’, is not only relevant in the context of business operations, but is also helpful when it comes to global SD governance and the implementation of political priorities, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda). Indicators provide an important measuring ability that enables a relation to be made between the current state of affairs, such as how a country is presently doing regarding reaching certain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and where a country would like to go, or be at, in the future. Indicators also allow progress to be tracked over time, which is important in keeping on track to reach targets and goals, as well as to inform the policy-making process as time goes on.

In the context of the SDGs, quality and timely data and metrics are a powerful ‘management tool’ that can help governments, businesses, and civil society identify main challenges and focus their usually limited financial resources accordingly. Going beyond strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation when based on indicators also help improve transparency and accountability, and thus help to ensure the overall success of the SDGs. The development of global, national, or regional indicators, and their regular monitoring, allows countries to evaluate their progress and learn from the successes of others.

In learning from past shortcomings, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the predecessors of the SDGs, which were characterized by long data delays, large gaps, and lack of metrics for important indicators, such pitfalls can be avoided when defining indicators, collecting data in a timely manner, and proactively dealing with gaps. To avoid repeating this mistake, and to ensure political and financial commitment, it is important that governments and the international community establish metrics and monitoring processes as early as possible for measuring progress made towards the SDGs.

This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides a comprehensive, but not exhaustive, overview of the main existing indicator sets and processes for monitoring the SDGs at the global, European Union, and the national level of European countries.

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