The regional dimension of implementing the 2030 Agenda

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the pivotal role of the regional dimension in implementation, follow-up and review. Actions at the regional level bridge the global and national levels, and provide the necessary focus for international exchanges of experience and peer learning. All five United Nations regional commissions annually organize regional forums for sustainable development. In the region of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), which comprises 56 countries of Europe, North America and Central Asia, the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development will be held for the sixth time this year (Geneva, 6 and 7 April 2022), to share policy solutions, best practices and challenges in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNECE disseminates knowledge and data on the SDGs through its designated platforms. The Knowledge Hub, Dashboard and Database with the latest data on global SDG indicators for UNECE countries were launched in 2020, with a Russian interface added last year. UNECE provides guidance to national statistical offices and has been regularly updating a Road Map1 to guide countries on how to set up and manage a system for providing statistics and indicators for SDGs.

1 UNECE (2022). Road Map on Statistics for Sustainable Development Goals – second edition. Geneva: United Nations.

The 68th session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (Geneva, 9 and 10 April 2019), the governing body of UNECE, requested the Secretariat “to publish a yearly report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the UNECE region to support the discussions at the sessions of the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development”. The UNECE Statistical Division has been leading the preparation of these reports since 2020,2 including the present third report, prepared to inform the debates at Regional Forum on Sustainable Development.

2 UNECE (2020). Towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the UNECE region: a statistical portrait of progress and challenges. Geneva: United Nations. UNECE (2021). Is the UNECE region on track for 2030? Geneva: United Nations.

Assessment and data

The 2030 Agenda cannot be fulfilled without relevant and timely statistics to track progress. Data are needed for understanding the overall levels of progress, for designing and monitoring the results and impact of policy actions, as well as for identifying areas, groups or regions that risk being left behind.

The report provides assessment of progress and stories on how regional and country-level actions relate to sustainable development outcomes. Technical notes on the progress assessment at the end of this report explain the methodology used.

The assessment covers every goal and target for which there are data and for which it is possible to set a target value. The assessment looks at the trends at the regional level only. As shown in the 2020 report on the UNECE region2, variation among countries is significant in all areas and a trend in a country may differ from the general trend observed in the region.

The regional assessment presented in this report relies on the global indicator framework for SDGs3 and the available data on UNECE countries in the United Nations Global SDG Indicators Database as of 21 December 2021.

3 United Nations. Global indicator framework adopted by the General Assembly (A/RES/71/313), annual refinements contained in E/CN.3/2018/2 (Annex II), E/CN.3/2019/2 (Annex II), and 2020 Comprehensive Review changes (Annex II) and annual refinements (Annex III) contained in E/CN.3/2020/2.

While the scope of data in the Global SDG Database has greatly increased in recent years, coverage remains weak in many areas. Forty per cent of targets cannot be measured for the region due to insufficient data or other measurement challenges. In all, sufficient national data to track change over time are available for 142 (57 per cent) of the 247 global monitoring indicators and for 105 (62 per cent) of the 169 targets. Technical notes on the progress assessment, including a complete list of the used indicators, are presented in the end of this report. For 54 indicators, the most recent year of reference is 2020, reflecting the situation in the pandemic period.

Investing in data remains crucial for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda, even in countries with well-developed statistical systems. While statistical data collection was negatively impacted by the restrictions that the pandemic imposed, the new situation also accelerated trends that were well under way throughout the UNECE region in modernising the statistical work. The national statistical offices that had already advanced with innovation and modernisation turned out to be better prepared to meet the challenges caused by the pandemic.

Stories: spotlight on gender

The report shines a spotlight on gender equality and women’s empowerment (SDG 5) in the UNECE region. Based on the data available through the United Nations Global SDG Indicators Database, UN Women provided an overview of the current situation, showing good examples as well as large variation among UNECE countries.

The agencies and United Nations country teams participating in the Regional Coordination Group on Data and Statistics for Europe and Central Asia provided 11 further stories that take a closer look at how various regional and country level actions relate to sustainable development outcomes. Most of the stories pertain to goals 4, 5 and 17 – education, gender equality and partnerships – which are under in-depth review by this year’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Anchored in data, the insights from these stories help understand the ways how change can be achieved. Several stories address the challenges brought by the pandemic and measure their impact.

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