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SDG Indicators Bulletin

Volume 208 Number 18 | Monday, 21 November 2016

Briefing Note of the Plenary Session of the Fourth Meeting of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the Sustainable Development Goal Indicators

15-18 November 2016 | Geneva, Switzerland

Language: EN (HTML/PDF)
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The fourth meeting of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) convened from 15-18 November 2016, at the headquarters of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, in Geneva, Switzerland. The first two days of the meeting were a Members Meeting, open only to IAEG governments. The second two days were a Plenary Session, with participation from representatives of 46 countries, 34 international organizations, and 41 NGOs.

The Plenary Session, which took place from 17-18 November, served to engage a wider set of actors in the issues discussed during the Members Meeting on 15-16 November. For each agenda item during the Plenary Session, the UN Statistical Division, which is the IAEG Secretariat, provided a briefing on the Members’ discussions earlier in the week. Interactive discussions followed, with participation from UN agencies and other UN system representatives, NGOs and other civil society members, and government representatives from IAEG members and non-members.

Key issues discussed included: advancing the indicators that still require conceptual clarification; selecting custodial agencies to manage data collection on each indicator; the respective roles of national governments and UN agencies in processing data for the yearly global SDG report, and the communication between them; and how the indicators can be refined with minor changes, as well as a proposed process for more comprehensive reviews of the indicator framework. Following IAEG-SDGs 4, the Group will submit a report to the UN Statistical Commission in early December 2016, ahead of the 48th UNSC session, which is scheduled to take place in March 2017.

The following briefing note summarizes the discussions during the two-day Plenary Session of IAEG-SDGs 4. 


Lidia Bratanova, Director of the Statistics Division, UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), opened the Plenary Session on Thursday morning, 17 November. She reported that UNECE is developing a regional road map on SDG statistics, in cooperation with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the EU statistical office (Eurostat) and other regional offices, to help Member States prepare for global reporting on the SDGs. She said concrete action will begin in 2017 and includes: assessing Member States’ readiness to report on SDG indicators; reporting on national strategies and plans; identifying data gaps; and clarifying the flow of data between national, regional and global levels.

Christian Friis Bach, UNECE Executive Secretary, said good data can scale up implementation, and recalled data-driven successes on maternal mortality and school enrollment during the MDGs. He emphasized the need for multiple stakeholders to provide data, and for data to be available to citizens in order to push further action, citing the Aarhus Convention and Article 6 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on access to data and information for citizens. Bach said UNECE will hold a Regional Forum on Sustainable Development on 25 April 2017, to “bring everything together” on data, statistics and monitoring ahead of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

Francesca Perucci, UN Statistics Division (UNSD), noted the “intense” interest in the development of the indicators, and said the statistical community had learned how to integrate inputs from a wide range of actors. She highlighted the challenge of working collaboratively while respecting the principles of official statistics, but said the inputs have brought benefits to the indicator framework, especially in focusing on leaving no one behind and “counting the uncounted.” She noted that many governments have already begun working with the indicator framework, including by preparing national platforms.

Enrique Ordaz, Co-Chair of the IAEG-SDGs, also on behalf of Co-Chair Lisa Bersales, welcomed participants. He noted that the IAEG recently formed three working groups: Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange (SDMX), geospatial information, and interlinkages.


OUTCOMES OF ECOSOC AND HLPF ON SDG INDICATORS AND FOLLOW-UP AND REVIEW: Perucci reported that, in July 2016, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a Ministerial Declaration that welcomed the IAEG-SDGs’ indicator framework and work plan. However, she said, since ECOSOC did not adopt a specific resolution on the indicators, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) has not yet taken action itself. As for whether a resolution will be tabled in 2017, she said it is “in Member States’ hands.”

Perucci added that the 2016 session of the HLPF demonstrated strong recognition for the importance of data and statistics in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with almost all panels highlighting this as a priority. She said the first annual SDG progress report was presented during HLPF 2016, and provided “story lines” on the most urgent needs and priorities, based on aggregate data from previous years. Perucci acknowledged the need to address data disaggregation better in future reports, and said disaggregation is the “number one priority” for data development for the 2030 Agenda.

WORK OF THE HIGH-LEVEL GROUP FOR PARTNERSHIP, COORDINATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING FOR THE 2030 AGENDA: Perucci highlighted the work of the High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for the 2030 Agenda (HLG), which is tasked with strategic work to address data needs. She said the HLG is developing a Global Action Plan, which has been reviewed by stakeholders.

Perucci reported that a multi-stakeholder Programme Committee of the HLG is working to set the scope and content of the first UN World Data Forum (WDF), which will take place in January 2017, in South Africa. She said the Forum is expected to deliver concrete ideas and solutions, including on: innovation and synergies across different data ecosystems; leaving no one behind; data principles and governance on validating data, and quality of data; and the way forward, which will cover the Global Action Plan and regional road maps.

SDG INTERFACE ONTOLOGY: The UN Environment Programme (UN Environment, or UNEP) highlighted its work to develop an SDG Interface Ontology (SDGIO). The ontology project seeks to define terms in the SDG framework that are used with varying meanings throughout the Goals and targets, such as “access” and “resilience,” which currently “vex the methodology” of measuring progress. The ontology aims to “make assumed meanings explicit” and ensure coherence. UN Environment reported that a peer review of the ontology will begin in December 2016, and is expected to provide further clarity, including by providing operational definitions in addition to legal ones, and may help with linguistic translation of various terms.

SENDAI FRAMEWORK INDICATORS: The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) reported on the 15-month process of developing indicators for the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, under the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Expert Working Group on Indicators and Terminology Relating to Disaster Risk Reduction. He said the Group has identified how five of the seven Sendai targets pertain to the SDG indicators, while two targets are still under discussion. He said he expected the Group’s report to contain recommendations for consideration by the UN General Assembly and call for support from Member States for UNISDR and partners to operationalize the indicators.


A stakeholder briefing took place on Friday morning, prior to that day’s plenary discussions. Civil society speakers urged the IAEG to: make its modalities more open to civil society, including in the work stream on data disaggregation; reclassify indicator 5.6.2 as Tier II; and find better measures of inequality for targets in Goals 10 and 17.

They also encouraged greater use of expertise and data from civil society and the private sector. The Forest Stewardship Council suggested that the IAEG can use the time until the first review of the framework, in 2020, to validate structures for non-official data collection. Ordaz responded that this may be possible only at country level, and would need to go through a rigorous process via national statistical offices (NSOs).

In response to stakeholders’ interest in learning more about work plans for Tier III indicators, Perucci suggested engaging in thematic discussions with the respective custodian agencies.


The majority of the Plenary Session involved presentations by UNSD on each agenda item discussed by the IAEG in the Members Meeting held earlier in the week, followed by interactive discussion with the participants from UN agencies and governments. Civil society participants were invited to make statements three times in the course of the two-day meeting, in addition to the interactive briefing with UNSD and the IAEG chair on Friday morning.

UPDATED TIER SYSTEM AND MECHANISM FOR RECLASSIFICATION OF INDICATORS: Heather Page, UNSD, reminded participants of the significance of the three “tiers” being used to classify the global indicators. She said: Tier I indicators are “conceptually clear,” with an established methodology and data being produced regularly by countries; Tier II indicators lack regular data production; and Tier III indicators lack not only regular data production but also an established methodology, meaning that the Group has not agreed how to define the indicator for measurement purposes.

Page reported that 23 indicators have been reclassified since 21 September 2016 (the previous version of the classification document), and most of the changes entailed moving an indicator from Tier I to Tier II, reflecting a lack of regular data production by countries. She said that, according to the new classification, Tier I contains 81 indicators, Tier II has 57, and Tier III consists of 88 indicators, and four indicators have subcomponents in different Tiers. Page reported that during the Members Meeting, a few indicators’ reclassifications were reconsidered based on additional information, including indicators from Goals 2, 4, 15 and 16.

Page outlined the IAEG’s proposal for a once-yearly mechanism to update the Tier system as needed. First, at the IAEG meeting held each fall, she said members will review a set of indicators proposed for reclassification, based on input and updated information provided at least one month ahead of time by UN agencies. Based on these inputs, the Group will decide on any reclassification during that meeting, and the revised Tier classification will be published following the meeting. She added that, for this year only, the Group plans to “fast track” the reclassification of some Tier III indicators with well-developed work plans.

Participants engaged in a discussion on the criteria for Tier I. In response to a question about how “regular production of data by countries” is determined, UNSD said the general rule of thumb is for at least 50% of countries in each region to report on the indicator, in order to allow for regional estimates.

Perucci explained that data for Tier II indicators are included in the yearly SDG report, just like data for Tier I. They are classified differently only as a tool for the HLG and others who work on data capacity building. She added that, for Tier III indicators, the Group has not effectively given the “green light” for inclusion in the SDG report because they are still working on the way forward. She noted that, nonetheless, Tier III indicators are fully agreed by the Group, and some countries are reporting on them.

Some participants urged the Secretariat to make the definitions clearer, to make the classification process more transparent, and to ensure countries do not “deprioritize” Tier II and Tier III indicators in their reporting efforts. On the recent reclassification of indicators, participants commented on the placement of specific indicators, in some cases recommending a change in classification.

World Vision, in a joint statement for the civil society organizations (CSOs) present at the meeting, observed that the “most transformative indicators” in the 2030 Agenda are in Tier III, and methodologies exist for many of them. In particular, she urged moving indicator 3.8.2 (Number of people covered by health insurance or a public health system per 1,000 population) to Tier II, given that a robust methodology exists.

The Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), for the CSOs, said indicator 5.6.2 (Number of countries with laws and regulations that guarantee women aged 15-49 years access to sexual and reproductive health care, information and education) should be classified as Tier II, as tested methodologies exist in UNAIDS and other agencies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) called for moving indicator 6.3.1 (Proportion of wastewater safely treated) from Tier III to Tier I or Tier II, as it has an established methodology that is aligned with international standards. The Chair noted that Tier III indicators with a more advanced methodology can be “fast tracked” for reclassification.

Centre International de Droit Comparé de l’Environnement, for the CSOs, observed that 60% of the environmentally relevant indicators of the SDGs are currently in Tier III, including the majority of indicators on sustainable consumption and production, six of the seven indicators for Goal 13 (climate action), and seven of the nine indicators for Goal 14 (life below water).

The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) called for quickly completing the methodology on indicator 9.3.1 (Proportion of small-scale industries in total industry value added) and indicator 9.3.2 (Proportion of small-scale industries with a loan or line of credit), by settling the definition of “small scale” industry. He said UNIDO has data on the indicator, but cannot compile them due to the conflicting definitions of that term.

The International Trade Union Federation, for the CSOs, said both methodology and data exist for indicator 12.c.1 (Amount of fossil-fuel subsidies per unit of GDP (production and consumption) and as a proportion of total national expenditure on fossil fuels), as countries are already submitting reviews on fossil fuel subsidies within the Group of 20 process. The European Commission (EC) called to move indicator 15.6.1 (Number of countries that have adopted legislative, administrative and policy frameworks to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits) to Tier I, citing improved data preparation through the Access and Benefit Sharing Clearing-house. Also on Goal 15 (life on land), UN Environment suggested restoring indicator 15.4.1 (Coverage by protected areas of important sites for mountain biodiversity) and indicator 15.5.1 (Red List Index) to Tier I, as they are being reported on under other obligations.

On indicator 16.2.2 (Number of victims of human trafficking per 100,000 population, by sex, age and form of exploitation), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) suggested splitting it into two components, on detected and undetected victims, noting that there is an established methodology for the former.

On the process to update classifications, the International AgriFood Network welcomed the fast-track option, noting that many food security indicators are currently Tier III. She said that existing data may not be ideal, but it could allow for interim measurement while methodologies continue to progress.

TIER III WORK PLANS AND INDICATORS WITHOUT A CUSTODIAN AGENCY: Page introduced plans for addressing the methodological needs of Tier III indicators. Ahead of the IAEG meeting, the possible custodian agencies for each indicator had provided information comprising a work plan (with the exception of 15 indicators, which currently lack a work plan).

She said the IAEG intends to identify the most advanced work plans, so those indicators can be “fast tracked” from Tier III to Tier II through a review at the IAEG’s March 2017 meeting. She said the IAEG will review the other Tier III indicators’ work plans ahead of its fall 2017 meeting.

ARROW, for the CSOs, said Tier III work plans should include the active involvement of national statistical offices (NSOs) in low-income countries, fragile states, and CSOs.

Next, Page reported that eight Tier III indicators currently lack a designated custodian agency, and invited agencies to help identify custodians. Asked for more information on the role of the custodian agencies, UNSD said IAEG members have expressed a preference for custodian agencies that have an established mechanism to collect data on the indicator, and links to a specific counterpart at the country level. The custodian should also provide capacity building and methodological support. Perucci indicated that some countries are concerned about being “bypassed” in the process of compiling data and estimates or adjusting them for international comparability.

In an interactive discussion, participants exchanged views on custodian agencies for specific indicators. Several agencies offered to serve as the custodian or “interim custodian” for a specific indicator, such as: indicator 1.b.1 (Proportion of government recurrent and capital spending to sectors that disproportionately benefit women, the poor and vulnerable groups) (UN Women); indicator 16.7.1 (Proportion of positions (by sex, age, persons with disabilities and population groups) in public institutions (national and local legislatures, public service and judiciary) compared to national distribution) (UN Development Programme); and indicator 17.6.1 (Number of science and/or technology cooperation agreements and programmes between countries, by type of cooperation) (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s science center). Multiple agencies expressed interest in indicator 14.7.1 (Sustainable fisheries as a percentage of GDP in small island developing States, least developed countries and all countries), including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).

The other “orphan” indicators noted in the UNSD’s presentation are: indicator 1.4.1 (Proportion of population living in households with access to basic services) (Tier III); indicator 1.a.1 (Proportion of resources allocated by the government directly to poverty reduction programmes) (Tier III); indicator 1.a.2 (Proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health and social protection) (Tier II); indicator 3.a.1 (Age-standardized prevalence of current tobacco use among persons aged 15 years and older) (Tier I); indicator 12.a.1 (amount of support to developing countries on research and development for sustainable consumption and production and environmentally sound technologies) (Tier III) and indicator 17.13.1 (Macroeconomic Dashboard) (Tier III).

The World Bank suggested that some indicators may seem daunting to measure, such as indicator 1.4.1, and suggested that clarifications or stronger guidance on these indicators may help to identify a custodian. World Vision, for the CSOs, said custodian agencies should include other stakeholders in their work and asked the IAEG to encourage them to do this. She also asked the Group to “thoroughly review” offers of custodianship, to assess their capacities relative to the indicators they have taken on.

Several agencies offered or requested to be considered a “co-custodian” or to be included in the work led by others, including: the Ramsar Convention (Convention on Wetlands of International Importance) for indicator 6.6.1 (Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time); UNODC and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for indicator 10.7.2 (Number of countries that have implemented well managed migration policies); UNFCCC for indicator 15.2.1 (Progress towards sustainable forest management); and FAO for indicator 15.3.1 (Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area).

REPORTING FROM NATIONAL TO INTERNATIONAL STATISTICAL SYSTEMS: On Thursday afternoon, Yongyi Min, UNSD, briefed participants on the flow of data from the national to global level. She recalled that the annual review conducted by the HLPF, as mandated in the 2030 Agenda and resolution 70/299, is based on national progress reports and prepared by the UN Secretary-General in cooperation with the UN Secretariat, based on the global indicator framework. She said the Secretariat uses the SDG Indicators Global Database to produce these reports. The Database is a clearinghouse for data on indicators, which she said is similar to the database used for the MDGs.

In order for national data to reach this global database, Min said they can be sent either by a country’s National Statistical Office or its line ministries, depending on how centralized or decentralized the national statistical system is. She indicated that the national bodies can send data directly to the relevant specialized agency, or they can send them to a regional mechanism, which will transmit them to the appropriate agency.

Min also described the specific role of agencies in collecting the data. As part of their responsibilities to provide internationally comparable country data on each indicator, alongside regional and global aggregates, she said agencies are expected to: create estimates when country data are missing; adjust data to make them comparable when collected via different methodologies; and make adjustments for inconsistent reports from one country. In addition, she said their role includes supporting increased adoption of and compliance with internationally agreed standards at national level, and strengthening national statistical capacity and improving reporting mechanisms.

Min noted a preference that only one agency collect data for each indicator. Highlighting other recommendations set out by the IAEG, she said agencies are encouraged to share their data collection calendar, and to use national official data to the extent possible, rather than international surveys. She added that countries should develop national data platforms as central repositories for SDG data. In this way, she noted, agencies can retrieve the data directly from the platform, which reduces the reporting burden on countries to transmit the data. For non-official data to be submitted, such as from the private sector, NGOs or other non-statistical bodies, Min said they would go through the national statistical system first, then get transmitted to the agencies.

In an interactive discussion, countries and agencies addressed questions and concerns about agencies’ handling of data, how countries can and should be involved, and coordination within countries’ national statistical systems. Countries asked agencies to provide more information on their collection and processing of national data, and for agencies to communicate with countries about the specific data sources being used and the methodology for compilations and comparisons.

Countries also requested a process by which they could react to the agencies’ results, in order to clarify, explain findings, object to discrepancies, or flag other concerns. One asked how to ensure there is “no cheating” with regard to selecting data that favor an agency’s policies.

On the calls for “accountability” from UN agencies in managing the data flow, Ordaz reflected that NSOs, in their role as coordinators of their national statistical systems, would like to understand what information is going where, and to look at the methodologies involved. The UN Conference on Trade and Development asked whether countries are capable of “acting as a safeguard” in adjudicating data.

WHO noted that during the MDGs, multiple national estimates often emerged on the same issue from different ministries. He cautioned that discussions between agencies and national statistical systems could be “multiplyingly painful” under the SDGs, given the complexity of the indicators. UN Environment suggested using a model of “modern, open and shared data,” in which the country posts its data on a public platform. With this approach, “who sends it where is of little relevance.” By contrast, in the traditional approach, agencies receive multiple PDFs from countries and have to hand-transcribe the numbers, she explained.

Closing the discussion, Ordaz said there is interest in improving the dialogue between international agencies and NSOs, and streamlining their communication. He noted the need for stronger coordination within countries to communicate with the international agencies.

REFINEMENT OF INDICATORS AND FUTURE REVISIONS OF THE INDICATOR FRAMEWORK: In the Plenary Session on Friday, Benjamin Rae, UNSD, presented on current and future processes to “refine” and “revise” the indicator framework.

Current Refinements: Rae explained that at UNSC 47 in March 2016, the Commission had asked the IAEG to account for changes to several existing indicators, which governments had suggested during the discussion. The IAEG then developed proposed refinements on these indicators, and it held an open consultation on the refinements, which garnered over 200 responses.

The Group discussed the refinements in the Members Meeting, agreeing on several of them, and UNSD invited comments from participants in the Plenary Session. Rae said the finalized refinements to the ten indicators will be presented to UNSC 48 (March 2017).

In the Members Meeting, he reported, the IAEG identified revised refinement proposals on:

  • indicator 1.a.1 (Original indicator: Proportion of resources allocated by the government directly to poverty reduction programmes): Revised indicator: 1. Proportion of domestically generated resources allocated by the government directly to poverty reduction programmes, and 2. Sum of total grants and non-debt creating inflows directly allocated to poverty reduction programmes as a proportion of GDP;
  • indicator 7.a.1 (Original indicator: Mobilized amount of United States dollars per year starting in 2020 accountable towards the $100 billion commitment): IAEG supported a refinement to accurately reflect international cooperation as listed in the target, and an agency recommended: “International financial flows to developing countries in support of clean energy research and development and renewable energy production, including in hybrid systems;”
  • indicator 8.8.2 (Original indicator: Increase in national compliance of labour rights (freedom of association and collective bargaining, based on International Labour Organization (ILO) textual sources and national legislation, by sex and migrant status): IAEG agreed on a revised refinement: “Level of national compliance of labor rights (freedom of association and collective bargaining) based on International Labour Organization (ILO) textual sources and national legislation, by sex and migrant status.” The change from “increase in” to “level of” was seen to allow for more robust statistical measurement; 
  • indicator 8.9.2 (Original indicator: Number of jobs in tourism industries as a proportion of total jobs and growth rate of jobs, by sex): Revised indicator: Proportion of jobs in sustainable tourism industries out of total tourism jobs; and
  • indicator 8.b.1 (Original indicator: Total government spending in social protection and employment programmes as a proportion of the national budgets and GDP): IAEG supported a refinement to focus on youth, strategy for youth employment, and an agency recommended: “Existence of a developed and operationalized national strategy for youth employment, as a distinct strategy or as part of a national employment strategy.”

On indicator 16.4.2 (Original: Proportion of seized small arms and light weapons that are recorded and traced, in accordance with international standards and legal instruments), the Group agreed with the proposed refinement from UNODC (Proportion of seized, found or surrendered arms, whose illicit origin / context has been traced / established by a competent authority in line with international instruments) and requested that it collaborate further with the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), which had submitted a proposal emphasizing the need to measure destroyed arms (Proportion of seized, found or surrendered arms, whose illicit context has been established by a competent authority and that has been marked and recorded, or destroyed in accordance with relevant international instruments).

On indicator 2.b.1 (Original: Producer Support Estimate), the Group did not support the proposed refinement, and will further consider other options from the open consultation. Target 2.b calls to Correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets, including through the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies and all export measures with equivalent effect, in accordance with the mandate of the Doha Development Round. In the plenary discussion, some participants supported measuring export subsidies, not import tariffs. OECD called to use the concept of right to nominal protection, which he said is a broader measure of agricultural protection. FAO called for another indicator to address domestic policies, in order to fulfil the scope of the target.

Rae said indicator 3.8.2 was the “most popular” indicator, having received the largest number of comments. The original indicator measured coverage by health insurance or a public health system. Commenters during the online consultation had called for measurement to focus instead on household spending on health care. The IAEG identified a revised refinement proposal, to measure the proportion of the population with large household expenditures on health as a share of total household expenditure or income. Speaking at the Plenary Session, Oxfam said this change would help address “protection, not just coverage.”

On indicator 3.b.1 (Original indicator: Proportion of the population with access to affordable medicines and vaccines on a sustainable basis), the Group proposed splitting this into two indicators, one on medicines and one on vaccines. The revised indicator on access to medicines was discussed extensively in the Plenary Session. WHO supported measuring access by proportion of health facilities, while some governments preferred focusing on the proportion of the population with “access to affordable, essential medicines,” as used in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Ordaz proposed that IAEG members and WHO consult further to finalize this indicator.

On indicator 5.6.2 (Original indicator: Number of countries with laws and regulations that guarantee women aged 15-49 years access to sexual and reproductive health care, information and education), the Group supported a new formulation that addresses access for both men and women to sexual and reproductive health care, information and education. Countries and agencies held extensive discussions over the value of adding “and men” to the indicator. The UN Population Fund and others said the target is the “first-ever effort” to measure restrictions on these rights as means to curtail women’s freedom, thus giving it historic importance. He also noted that “these are substantive and historic restrictions for women, but not for men.” Many civil society organizations supported this position, stressing the target’s focus on “entrenched disadvantage,” which does not apply to men.

Several countries, however, suggested retaining the measurement on men’s access, highlighting that: the target calls for “universal access;” men should have the same education as women to avoid tension within families; and the measurement of the indicator will be disaggregated by sex anyway. It was agreed that the indicator will refer to men but specify data disaggregation by sex.

Civil society speakers noted the need to include girls aged 10-14, for whom they said information and protection for sexual and reproductive health are critical.

Future Refinements: Following the first set of refinements, Rae said further refinements to existing indicators can be proposed once a year, and will be more limited in scope (clarifying, not substantive). They can address:

  • Specifying or correcting a unit of measurement
  • Clarification of terms used in the indicator
  • Spelling and other editorial changes.
  • Any other minor issues that do not substantively change the indicator meaning

Current Revision: Turning to “reviews” or “revisions” of the indicator framework, Rae explained that they are more comprehensive processes and can address substantive changes. First, he outlined a process for considering 36 possible additional indicators that IAEG members have already identified, through a consultation held in summer 2016.

Per UNSD’s presentation, the Group plans to invite comments on some or all of the 36 indicators in an open consultation in 2017. The Group may give preference to proposals for indicators that already have established methodology and available data. The final list of proposed additional indicators will be presented to UNSC 49 in 2018.

In the plenary discussion, some participants said they had restrained themselves from proposing additional indicators, as they were not aware the Group was considering this. One asked for the criteria for selecting the 36 possible additional indicators, and the process for providing input. Participants suggested possible additional indicators for, inter alia: target 2.2, to address quality of diet, on which methodology exists) (FAO); target 4.1 to address the need for 12 years of free, equitable, quality education, and children’s right to play (Stakeholders Group on Aging, for the CSOs); target 15.b to better address forestry; refugees and/or internally displaced persons (UNHCR, supported by Norway and others); target 16.4 (UNODA); target 12.3 on food loss, to make use of the Food Loss and Waste Protocol (UN Environment, European Commission); targets 8.5 and 9.2  (UNIDO); targets 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4 (EC), target 10.6 to go beyond voting rights (International Trade Union Federation, for the CSOs); and target 17.19 (EC).

On Goal 13 (climate action), UNFCCC supported the idea of a focus group to work on coherence with the Paris Agreement, and noted that progress has been made already. UN Environment and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) also spoke on aligning the two agreements and possibly updating the Goal 13 indicators.

The Chair asked all participants who proposed additional indicators to send written proposals to the UNSD.

Future Revisions: On Friday afternoon, Rae presented the IAEG’s proposal for two further rounds of comprehensive review, for submission to UNSC in 2020 and 2025. Changes will be considered to address indicators for which:

  • The indicator does not map well to the target;
  • An additional indicator is needed to cover all aspects of the target;
  • New data sources are available;
  • Methodological development of Tier III indicator has stalled/did not produce expected results; and
  • The indicator is not measuring progress towards the target.

Rae reported that the first comprehensive review will begin in fall 2018, with a report submitted to UNSC by the end of 2019 for a decision in 2020; and the second review will begin in fall 2023, for submission at the end of 2024 and a decision by UNSC in 2025. For each review, the process is proposed as follows:

  • IAEG reviews the framework while consulting with custodian agencies and identifies indicators where revisions are possibly needed;
  • IAEG holds an open consultation on the proposed possible changes to the indicator framework;
  • IAEG reviews the results of the open consultation and develops a proposal for the changes to the indicator framework;
  • These results and proposal are shared publicly and are discussed at the meeting of the IAEG; and
  • IAEG finalizes the proposed changes to the indicator framework and submits them for consideration/approval to UNSC.

DATA DISAGGREGATION WORK PLAN: Perucci stressed the importance of data disaggregation for producing and defining data to address all the groups and populations mentioned in the 2030 Agenda. This entails developing data collection tools, and finding ways to integrate sources. She said the IAEG held an Expert Group Meeting in June 2016, hosted by the UN Children’s Fund, which had resulted in a report and recommendations. As a second step, Statistics Korea hosted a seminar on data disaggregation in early November. She said it is now time to operationalize the work.

Rae described the IAEG’s work stream on data disaggregation, which was originally conceived as a subgroup of the IAEG. However, due to the overwhelming interest in the topic, Rae said it became a work stream of the Group and follows the Group’s general modalities. He said the IAEG plans to: review each type of disaggregation separately, to create a consistent terminology across the indicator framework; begin with the Tier I indicators, since they have the best data coverage; and present a more detailed work plan ahead of the IAEG’s spring 2017 meeting.

UNHCR said it collects a lot of data on sub-populations, can disaggregate by migratory status, and is framing data collection around the SDG indicators. The Chair welcomed their contributions to the disaggregation work. The Netherlands said ISO 37120 is a standard related to cities that can help with geographical disaggregation. Norway noted that some governments have restrictions for data confidentiality.

Ghana suggested including Tier II indicators in the first phase of work. Jamaica said the Group first needs to agree on broad categories of disaggregation, and test its decisions against the indicators with the most data available, the Tier I indicators.

Jose Maria Nunag, for the CSOs, said disaggregated data make excluded groups visible and will enable citizens to monitor and push for progress. He called for disaggregating data by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, and geographic location, among others, per SDG target 17.18. He and other civil society speakers noted that stakeholders are well placed to provide high-quality data that can help fill gaps in official statistical processes.


In the final discussion of the two-day Plenary Session, Yongyi Min briefed participants on the IAEG’s next steps. Between November 2016 and March 2017, she said the Group will: finalize the refinements to the ten indicators raised at UNSC 46; submit a report to the UNSC (early December); further develop the work plans for Tier III indicators (December-January); work on harmonizing categories for data disaggregation (December-February); and review the possible indicators to be “fast-tracked” from Tier III (December-March).

Participants were informed that the IAEG’s work plan for March 2017-March 2018 includes: holding a physical meeting in March 2017; regularly updating Tier III work plans; reviewing indicators re-classification when needed; holding a physical meeting in fall 2017, as well as electronic interaction and teleconferences as needed; initiating the consultation on possible additional indicators, and finalizing the list of proposed additional indicators to present to UNSC 49; harmonizing the categories for data disaggregation, and reviewing indicators based on disaggregation categories; in the joint working group of the IAEG and HLG, reviewing the data available for Tier I and Tier II indicators, and making recommendations for increasing data coverage for Tier II; and continuing the work of the SDMX, geospatial information, and interlinkages working groups.

The Chair confirmed that the current membership of the IAEG expires in May 2017, and the mandate from the UNSC calls for rotation of the membership within regions, both for the IAEG and the HLG.

Ordaz closed the meeting at 3:39 pm.


UN World Data Forum: The first UN WDF will be hosted by Statistics South Africa, and is being organized by the UN High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for Statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (HLG).The Forum is intended to serve as a platform for intensifying cooperation on data for sustainable development with multiple stakeholders, including information technology professionals, geospatial information managers, data scientists, data users, and members from civil society. Organization of a World Forum on Sustainable Development Data was one of the main recommendations of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Expert and Advisory Group on Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. dates: 15-18 January 2017 location: Cape Town, South Africa contact: www:

48th Session of UN Statistical Commission: The UNSC will consider proposals of the IAEG-SDGs, as contained in the report of its fourth meeting. dates: 7-10 March 2017 location: New York, US contact: UN Statistics Division www:

Fifth Meeting of the IAEG-SDGs: The Group will hold its fifth meeting during Northern Spring in 2017, possibly at the end of March. dates: March 2017 (TBC) location: TBC contact: UN Statistics Division www:

UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2017: The HLPF is charged with following up on implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the SDGs. It will hold its fifth session on the theme of ‘Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.’ HLPF will also conduct the first set of Goal-specific reviews under the 2030 Agenda. The Goals to be reviewed in 2017 are: Goal 1 (End poverty in all its forms everywhere); Goal 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture); Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages); Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls); Goal 9 (Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation); Goal 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development); and Goal 17 (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development) (considered each year). The UN Secretary-General also will present the second yearly report on progress towards the SDGs, based on the global indicator framework. At least 30 countries are expected to present voluntary national reviews of progress on the 2030 Agenda in their countries. dates:  10-19 July 2017  location : New York contact:  UNDESA  www : ttps://

Sixth Meeting of the IAEG-SDGs: The Group will hold its sixth meeting sometime during Northern Fall 2017. dates: TBC location: TBC contact: UN Statistics Division www:

For additional upcoming events, see: