Centre on Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE)

Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by world leaders at the United Nations in September 2015, sets out an ambitious plan of action for people, planet and prosperity, with the overarching objective of leaving no one behind. At its core are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), underpinned by 169 targets. 

Part of the OECD Action Plan on SDGs, the OECD report “Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets" was developed in order to assist member countries with their national implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It provides a high-level overview of strengths and weaknesses in performance across the SDGs and the 5Ps, helping countries navigate the SDGs’ complexity and identify priorities within the broad 2030 Agenda. 

A pilot version of the report was presented by the OECD in the margins of the UN High-Level Political Forum on the SDGs in New York in July 2016. The second edition of the report was published in June 2017, with a refined methodology and expanded indicator and country coverage. The third edition, "Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets 2019: An Assessment of Where OECD Countries Stand", published in May 2019, includes expanded country and target coverage. It also includes novel analyses on measuring trends and measuring the transboundary aspects of the 2030 Agenda.

The report is based on the IAEG Global Indicator List and using data from the UN SDG Database and OECD Databases, its unique methodology evaluates the distance countries need to travel to meet each target. The full metadata for the report is available here: Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets: detailed metadata (PDF).




Leaving no one behind: SDGs for Children and Youth

The ambition to leave no one behind involves looking at whether the goals are being met for all parts of society, not just for the average citizen. As one contribution towards this, we have adapted our 2017 Study methodology to assess the distance that OECD countries need to travel in order to reach the SDG targets for children and young people.

Highlights: Child Well-Being and the Sustainable Development Goals
Full working paper: Child well-being and the Sustainable Development Goals: How far are OECD countries from reaching the targets for children and young people? Marguerit, D., G. Cohen and C. Exton (2018), OECD Statistics Working Papers, No. 2018/05, OECD Publishing, Paris. 

Applying a gender lens to the SDGs: how far are OECD countries from achieving targets for women and girls

Gender equality is one of the overarching principles of the 2030 Agenda, with both a dedicated goal (goal 5) as well as the aim of leaving no-one behind, which runs through all 17 SDGs. In order to address this, and building on the Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets report and methodology, we present an analysis of the distance to achieving SDG targets for women and girls.

Highlights: Applying a Gender Lens on the SDGs: How are Women & Girls Doing?
Full Working Paper: How far are OECD countries from achieving SDG targets for women and girls?: Applying a gender lens to measuring distance to SDG targets, Cohen, G. and M. Shinwell (2020), OECD Statistics Working Papers, No. 2020/02, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Measuring transboundary impacts

This paper deepens our measurement and analysis of transboundary aspects within the 2030 Agenda, for a better understanding of how action on the SDGs will affect other countries, as well as shared global resources. 

Full Working Paper: Measuring transboundary impacts in the 2030 Agenda: Conceptual approach and operationalisation, Ino, J., F. Murtin and M. Shinwell (2021), OECD Papers on Well-being and Inequalities, No. 01, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Measure distance to SDG targets anywhere

Achieving the 2030 Agenda requires understanding how far countries are from achieving its 17 goals and their 169 targets. With the aim of contributing to a toolkit assisting countries in their implementation of the2030 Agenda, this paper explores different methodological questions and presents several possible approaches to measuring distances to the SDG targets anywhere. The paper also presents a case study of adapting the methodology in the setting of select LAC countries.

Full Working Paper: How to measure distance to SDG targets anywhere: Adapting the methodology of the Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets study to go beyond OECD countries, with an application to selected Latin American countries, Cohen, G. and M. Shinwell (2020), OECD Statistics Working Papers, No. 2020/03, OECD Publishing, Paris.


For more on related work at the OECD on the SDGs, see: OECD and the Sustainable Development Goals: Delivering on universal goals and targets





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