Sustainable Development Goals

Tracking progress

The success of the Sustainable Development Goals rests to a large extent on an effective monitoring, review and follow-up process.

The 2030 Agenda sets in place a global reporting structure that includes inputs at local, national, regional levels and culminates in the UN High-Level Political Forum.

SDG indicators are the foundation of this new global framework for mutual accountability. Mandated by the UN General Assembly, the UN Statistical Commission identified in March 2016 a global indicator framework comprising 230 indicators to monitor the SDGs’ 169 targets. Reflecting Agenda 2030’s guiding principle of “leaving no one behind”, indicators are set to be disaggregated by gender, age, income, geography, occupation and other aspects of social identity. 

Targeting food, agriculture and natural resources

FAO is the custodian UN agency for 21 indicators, for SDGs 2, 5, 6, 12, 14 and 15, and a contributing agency for a further five. 

As a custodian agency, FAO is responsible for:

  • Collecting data from national sources, validating and harmonizing them, estimating regional and global aggregates and making them available for international reporting.
  • Contributing to annual SDG progress reports, feeding into the High-Level Political Forum’s follow-up and review processes. Flagship publications are set to broaden their scope to include both a storyline and statistical annexes on relevant SDG indicators under FAO custodianship.
  • Establishing partnerships with other international agencies to monitor the increased number of indicators, crucial to achieving interrelated goals.

Using national data to track global progress to 2030

SDG targets are defined in the 2030 Agenda as “aspirational and global”, with each government tailoring its own national targets and indicators “guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances”. However, only the 230 SDG indicators will be used to assess progress at global level.

FAO is ready to support countries strengthen their capacities to collect data and monitor the SDGs, and to ensure that national data are comparable and aggregated at sub-regional, regional and global levels.

Assessing the private sector’s contribution to the SDGs

Despite the integral role of the private sector in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it has been difficult to capture and quantify its specific contribution in advancing the 2030 Agenda. As the designated United Nations (UN) custodian agency for 21 SDG indicators and a contributing agency for another five, FAO has developed a set of core indicators that can be used by agrifood private sector entities to report on their efforts and feed into national-level reporting on the SDGs.

The resulting "Guidance on core indicators for agrifood systems – Measuring the private sector’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals" aims to provide practical information on how food and agriculture companies’ contribution to the SDGs can be measured in a consistent manner and in alignment with countries’ needs relating to monitoring the attainment of Agenda 2030. The indicators are further intended to serve as a tool to assist governments in:

  • improving private sector’s accountability mechanisms and assessing their contribution to SDG implementation, in particular on key transformative actions needed to achieve the SDGs;
  • setting standards and policies for corporate sustainability reporting, establishing national private sector reporting mechanisms and enabling the reporting on SDG Indicator 12.6.1 (Number of companies publishing sustainability reports); and
  • potentially reusing the data reported by private entities to improve SDG monitoring at the national level.

Available in a user-friendly format, the guidance begins with a quick guide that provides a brief overview of the indicators, the audience, scope and data collection. It is followed by methodological guidance, which provides in-depth detail on the methodology behind each indicator and useful resources for capturing, measuring and reporting on data for each indicator. Finally, in the annexes there is a mapping of how the indicators align with various standards and guidance.

FAO is committed to work hand in hand with the private sector and national governments to accelerate actions and improve accountability to achieve agrifood systems transformation and SDGs. The Organization will continue to work with partner organisations to ensure that the indicators contribute to strengthen existing reporting and accounting standards, agrifood benchmarks, and accountability frameworks. FAO also intends to support member states in using the indicators to develop or improve national corporate reporting and accountability mechanisms to better capture and encourage private sector entities’ impact on the SDGs.

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