Ex Director General  José Graziano da Silva
Artículo de opinion del Director General de la FAO José Graziano da Silva

Statistics: The Challenges of Monitoring the 2030 Agenda

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks the eradication of poverty and hunger and to which all countries have pledged to implement, requires a sweeping paradigm shift on several fronts.

Its advent also marks a turning point for the global statistical system.

To measure progress in relation to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their 169 targets, the United Nations Statistical Commission has endorsed a Global Framework consisting of 230 individual indicators. This number represents about four times more indicators than for the past Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which means that an unprecedented amount of data will have to be produced and analysed.

A tremendous effort from countries and international organizations alike will be required: over one third of the SDG indicators agreed have neither intergovernmentally defined methodologies nor currently available data.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been appointed as the custodian for 21 of the 230 SDG indicators, as well as co-custodian of another four. That’s a more than sixfold increase from the four indicators that the Organization was responsible for under the MDGs.

The 25 indicators span across seven different SDGs, namely Goals 1 (poverty eradication), 2 (zero hunger and malnutrition), 5 (gender equality), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 14 (oceans, seas and marine resources) and 15 (forests and life on land).

The intense work ahead stems from the strong links between the 2030 Agenda and all dimensions of FAO’s policy, technical, programmatic and investment work. It also reflects the trust that countries place on FAO’s technical capacities.

As a custodian agency, FAO will perform 3 main functions: i) contribute to building countries’ capacity to collect relevant data in partnership with other stakeholders; ii) gather and harmonize the information provided by countries and produce global and regional aggregates; and iii) prepare annual global reports to inform the international community on the progress made towards the achievement of the agricultural-related SDG targets.

Countries have the primary responsibility for follow-up and review of progress made in the process of implementing the SDGs, which requires quality, accessible and timely data collection. In this regard, capacity building will be particularly important for all countries, especially small island developing states (SIDs) and least developed countries (LDCs).

The SDG data requirements far exceed the current capacities of most of the national statistical systems. Indeed, many countries – even where agriculture accounts for a substantial portion of GDP and employment – have not managed to conduct an agricultural survey,.

Paving the road to progress

FAO has been working on various statistical capacity-building initiatives. Many of them have been implemented under the Global Strategy to improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics, started by the UN Statistical Commission in 2012.

These include innovative approaches and cost-effective methodologies, such as the use of mobile technology for data collection and of remote sensing imagery for building the frameworks for agricultural surveys, particularly regarding forests, crops and fisheries stocks.