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Indicators, Data, the SDGs and YOU(th)

Governments, civil societies, and the general public need to work together to ensure the sustainable development of all. With strong indicators in place, the SDGs will have greater potential for realizing human rights! Read on
Do you remember what happened in September 2015? Let me remind you. It was at that time that the world witnessed a historical moment: the United Nations embraced the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 goals, 169 targets and 230 indicators, set up to monitor the implementation of this ambitious agenda. Our task is clear: We (yes, that includes you) should leave this world better than we found it. No matter your race, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity, that includes YOU! Governments, civil societies, and the general public all need to work together to ensure that there can be sustainable development for all.
Indicators, Data, the SDGs
WE, young people, are in a great position to champion the principles of ‘Leaving No One Behind’. Each and every target and indicator in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is relevant to us, as they will shape the earth that we inhabit and inherit. To ensure that the goals and how they are measured are relevant to us, young people must be considered partners when it comes to implementing the SDGs. We must establish effective mechanisms to hold governments accountable!

At the recently concluded 4th United Nations Statistical Commission’s Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) meeting in Geneva, I was one of the youngest delegates to observe first-hand and participate in the refinement of the SDG indicators. While I was very happy to participate, I must say that the process was not very ‘youth-friendly’ – the language and discussions were extremely technical, and the subject area not something you(th) encounter in our daily lives. But this should not stop us!

Youth participation in the meetings and processes surrounding the SDGs is essential to ensure that the programs and policies created address the realities, concerns and priorities of all young people. With our active participation we can help realize the truly transformative indicator development process.

The Importance of Data

Even from the limited data currently available, it is clear that the benefits of development are not equally shared around the world and across populations. Significant challenges persist in the full implementation of the SDGs, as the recently concluded 4th IAEG-SDGs meeting have shown – but this does not mean that we should give up. On the contrary, it means that we have to intensify our efforts.

We should ensure the acceptability, availability, accessibility and quality of sexual and reproductive health services, including contraceptives and access to safe and legal abortion. And to evaluate this, we need data incorporated in to the indicators of the SDGs. With this I would like to stress the importance and necessity of regularly collecting, analyzing and disseminating population data. Governments should strengthen their data systems- an indispensable precondition for evidence-based development planning at all levels of decision-making. The consideration of population dynamics is key for an efficient and forward-looking allocation of resources and sustainable development.

Data is essential to review progress, plan and implement actions to achieve the targets of the SDGs. Thankfully, the need for reliable, timely and disaggregated data was recognized in the 4th IAEG SDGs meeting – let’s hope it will be implemented accordingly.

Furthermore, the process of refinement of indicators must be done in a manner that is transparent and includes meaningful civil society participation. These indicators are measuring the factors that are most likely to lead to transformative change and the realization of justice for all.

As a final note, the Sustainable Development Goals are accompanied by targets that will be further elaborated through these indicators focused on measurable outcomes with the use of data. They are action oriented, global in nature and universally applicable. They take into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respect national policies and priorities. Progress on one goal is directly linked to progress on other goals.

With strong indicators in place, the SDGs will have greater potential for realizing human rights!

What’s next?

In order for us to engage effectively, we need to understand the IAEG’s work plan going forward. In this way, we can engage constructively and support the development of a global indicators framework that delivers on the ambition of Agenda 2030.

In my opinion, a lot remains to be done in order to ‘leave no one behind’, reduce inequalities and to achieve the empowerment of young people, specifically young women and LGBTQI young people. The Agenda’s goals and targets should be met for all nations and people and for all segments of society. Few of the current indicators, for example, are able to shed light on the particular situations of older persons, persons with disabilities, or indigenous peoples. In addition, there is no indicator specifically focused on young inadequately served populations such as LGBTQI youth.

Hence, we should urge our governments to remain committed to the promotion, protection, and fulfillment of all human rights and to the full and effective implementation of the SDGs. We must ensure that no one is left behind and that the human rights of ALL are fulfilled – including young inadequately served populations.

You can start by learning more about the SDG indicators refinement and revisions.

TOGETHER, we will work to ensure that NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND.

Remember, there’s YOU(th) in the SDGs!

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 16th January 2017.
Jose Maria Nunag
Jose Maria Nunag is a contributing writer at Inspiration Unlimited eMagazine.

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