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Counting down to 2030 – Asia-Pacific countries encounter obstacles, data and knowledge gaps as they attempt to monitor progress toward achieving the 17 SDGs

04/09/2017 Bangkok, Thailand

While the world’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals are clear in their targets, accurately measuring progress to reach them is proving to be more of a challenge, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said today. 

An FAO survey in the Asia-Pacific region found considerable gaps in progress toward implementing internationally accepted norms in data gathering and statistical analysis. A questionnaire circulated to officials in more than 20 countries across the region found only two-thirds had mapped out availability of SDG related information while some had not made much progress in preparing to collect the required data.    

“On average, the countries in the Asia-Pacific region have only been able to account for 25 to 50 percent of the data required to meet the internationally agreed monitoring framework from their conventional sources,” said Mukesh Srivastava, FAO Senior Statistician at the Organization’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. “However, the majority of the countries in Asia-Pacific have formally established SDG coordination agencies and most of them have already incorporated action to achieve the SDGs into their National Development Plans.”

The international monitoring framework, while setting out a path for countries to follow, has some 169 targets to be met and has identified 231 indicators to monitor progress. For smaller countries in particular, with lower levels of statistical capacity, this can be challenging.

For this reason, FAO has convened a regional meeting of statisticians and planners from some two dozen countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The group is considering the use of global indicators and methodologies to achieve the SDGs. It will also further identify the capacity gaps and propose ways to fill them at country level. Senior statisticians from both the FAO regional office and its headquarters in Rome are participating in this meeting.

“FAO is committed to work with our Member Nations so that together we can achieve the SDG targets. Sound and timely statistics produced by countries are crucial for guiding policy decisions and making this happen” said Pietro Gennari, FAO Chief Statistician. “But there is little time to lose if the Asia-Pacific region is to meet the 2030 deadline.”   

 “I know this may seem daunting. But with the clock ticking down to 2030, and with just 13 years to go, we still have nearly half a billion hungry people struggling to survive in our region,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative.  “That’s why we are here today – to listen to each other and to learn from each other. We must make progress because if we aren’t in a position to accurately and confidently collect and analyze the data now how could we ever claim to have met the goals in 2030?”

The Regional Advocacy and Consultation Event for Monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to the Food and Agriculture Sector will conclude 8th September at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, with a Demonstration Workshop on monitoring tools for SDG 2 (‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.’)

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