Technical notes on the progress assessment


The progress assessment is based on the Global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals51. The data were downloaded from the United Nations Global SDG Indicators Database as of 21 December 2021. For some indicators, the report relies on the UNECE Statistical Database. This is the case where the UNECE Database, through its existing data collection, has a more comprehensive coverage of countries or data on more recent years for UNECE countries, or where the UNECE Database provides more precise or consistent measurements for the UNECE region. This concerns indicators 3.6.1 on road traffic deaths and 9.1.2 on passenger and freight volumes. Indicator 3.7.1 on family planning is sourced from the United Nations Population Division.

51 United Nations (2017). Global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 6July 2017. A/RES/71/313 and annual refinements E/CN.3/2018/2 (Annex II), E/CN.3/2019/2 (Annex II), and E/CN.3/2020/2.

Assessment measure

The assessment presents the Anticipated Progress Index, a method developed by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)52 and applied by all five United Nations regional commissions.

52 United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (2021). Annex 2 – Technical notes. Pp.70–73 in Asia and the Pacific SDG progress report 2021. Bangkok: United Nations.

The Anticipated Progress Index measures whether a target will be achieved by 2030 based on the rate of change observed between 2000 and 2021. Recent data are given more weight than earlier data in estimating anticipated indicator values for 2030. For targets that will not be achieved, the Index reports the anticipated gap between the target value and the projected value for 2030 relative to the progress required between 2015 and 2030.

Estimation and aggregation

The anticipated values for 2030 are estimated using the available data between 2000 and 2021. The time-weighted linear regression used for the estimation gives more importance to more recent data. The assessment uses all available indicators where at least two data points are available for at least 15 UNECE countries and for which it is possible to set a target value (see Target values). In total, 142 indicators across 105 targets and all 17 goals (see Indicators used in the assessment). Some indicators consist of several components. For example, indicator 1.3.1 (Proportion of population covered by social protection) consists of 11 social protection benefits, and indicator 3.c.1 (Health worker density by occupation) consists of separate measures for nurses, doctors, pharmacists and physicians. In such cases, all components with data are used in calculations, and the progress index for the indicator is the average of the indices of its components.

The estimation described above is carried out on the country level. For the regional level assessment, the median value is used for most indicators. For a subset of indicators, the mean provides a better summary of the distribution of values across the region.53 For indicators with binary values, which show the existence of a certain policy in a country, the summary value for the region is the percentage of countries with such policy.

53 The regional value represents the mean value for indicators 12.4.1, 15.2.1, 16.1.1, and 4.1.1.

In aggregation to the target level, each indicator has an equal weight (independent of its number of components) under the corresponding target; and when aggregating the targets to the goal level, each target has an equal weight (independent of its number of indicators) under the corresponding goal.

In this report, the assessment results are presented at the target level.

Target values

The methodology uses target values for each indicator (or its component), which are expected to be reached by 2030. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development explicitly or implicitly defines target values for 63 indicators included in this progress assessment. For the other indicators, the “champion area” approach is used to define the region’s target value. Three variants of this approach are applied.

The most common variant identifies top performers in the region according to the rate of change. Top performers are defined as the five countries with the highest compound annual growth rate between the earliest and latest observations available. The target value is set as the product of the mean growth rate of the top performers and the regional median value in 2015.

For some indicators, such as those on internet connections and use, the very rapid progress cannot reasonably be applied to the future. For these, top performers are identified as the five countries with either the highest or lowest values in the most recent year depending on whether the desirable direction of change is an increase or a decrease. The target is then set as the mean most recent year value among these top performers.

For a small group of indicators, it is not obvious whether rapid change or low or high absolute levels are desired (for example, 9.2.2, Manufacturing employment as a percentage of total employment). For such indicators, top performers are taken to be the countries with the highest gross domestic product per capita and the target value as the average most recent year value of these top performers.

For a few indicators, a desirable direction of change and a target value cannot be determined. This is typically the case with indicators that are meant to provide a dashboard for a qualitative overall assessment of the situation (for example, indicator 6.6.1 on changes to water-related ecosystems over time). Such indicators were left out of the assessment.

Outliers are dropped from the target-value estimation using the interquartile range method.

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