Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM)
Advancing SDG monitoring on the ground

Advancing SDG monitoring on the ground

FAO’s Office of the Chief statistician (OCS), in its capacity and responsibility of coordinating the activities on SDG monitoring and reporting for the 21 SDG indicators under FAO custodianship, works towards the harmonization and standardization of methods in order to ensure consistency, comparability between countries and reduction of costs and burden on reporting institutions.

In October 2019, responding to the concerns raised by certain countries in past interagency fora, OCS carried out a review of the methodology used by FAO to calculate SDG indicator 15.4.2 - the Mountain Green Cover Index (MGCI). OCS, in collaboration with FAO’s Forestry Department, developed an alternative methodology that could simplify and automatize the measuring and monitoring of the MGCI using Earth Observation (EO) products from satellite images, and very simple analysis processes. Through this activity, the FMM subprogramme on ‘Improving country data for monitoring SDG achievements and informing policy decisions’ successfully developed the EO based methodology for monitoring and disaggregating SDGs.

So far, the work of the subprogramme has been particularly successful due to the following:

  1. The method was tested for Ecuador, Mali, Oman and Spain, and hence scaled up, allowing FAO to estimate the indicator for all countries since 2000. The new method can now be used to monitor MGCI in any country in the world.
  2. The method uses a long-time series of land cover data, and can, in principle, be used to monitor the MGCI every year from 1992 through 2018 at this time; in a few months, 2019 imagery will also be available.
  3. The methodology is based on the use of free data and free and open source software.
  4. The methodology allows countries to measure their MGCI using global land cover products produced and maintained by a third party [e.g. European Space Agency (ESA)], as well as to use their national land cover products if available.
  5. This initiative has been instrumental to further develop a partnership between FAO and the ESA to collaborate specifically on SDG products “from space” and provide countries with more SDG-specific free data and tools for their national reporting.


1. Evidence-based policy, global instruments and knowledge products

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