Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2017

Jeffrey Sachs, Guido Schmidt-Traub, Christian Kroll, David Durand-Delacre, Katerina Teksoz

Bertelsmann Stiftung, Sustainable Development Solutions Network



This slick report is an unofficial means of assessing progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It focuses on spillovers (also known as externalities) – such as financial secrecy, export of weapons, and transboundary groundwater pollution – that are not typically accounted for by official sources or national-level metrics.

The analysis of negative spillovers is especially damning of high-income countries. The report talks through common goods like a clean climate, as well as ways of attributing effects on these to a particular nation. Adopting a consumption- rather than production-based approach to carbon emissions would show that wealthy countries are particularly responsible. Thus,

“The SDG Dashboards for OECD countries…show that every rich country faces major challenges in meeting several SDGs…The greatest challenges exist on sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12), climate change (SDG 13), clean energy (SDG 7), and ecosystem conservation (SDGs 14 and 15).”

Similar analyses are provided for other regions. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, achieving equitable (SDG 10) and peaceful societies (SDG 16) is proving challenging.

However, positive spillovers are also included. These include university rankings, protected marine sites, and health & education spending. Overall, details of the indicators and methodology are provided in annexes, making this report a very useful reference tool for researchers, students, and policy wonks. The abundant graphs are also helpful for visualizing trends and comparisons.

The thematic and country rankings, meanwhile, are potentially of interest to anyone concerned about a particular country or topic. These rankings show, for instance, that Sweden is furthest along to meeting its SDG targets, at 85.6/100. At the other end of the scale is the Central African Republic, with a score of 36.7. The report is full of interesting, and sometimes surprising, findings:

• The UK has the worst tax haven score.

• 7 of the 10 countries responsible for the most imported groundwater depletion, per capita, are in the Middle East; but the list also includes Canada.

• Israel is the least generous high-income country, using the metric of official development assistance as a percentage of gross national income.

• The country importing the most carbon emissions, using technology-adjusted consumption-based accounting, is Botswana.

While the reporting is at the national level, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) is also working on a similar index and dashboards report for cities in the US. It will be interesting to see how researchers as well as policymakers respond to this approach to monitoring SDG progress.


Available from: http://www.sdgindex.org/assets/files/2017/2017-SDG-Index-and-Dashboards-...


Further reading:

Maurice, John (2016), “Measuring progress towards the SDGs—a new vital science”, The Lancet Vol 388, pages 1455–1458, available at http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(16)31791-3.pdf.

Satterthwaite, David (2016), “Missing the Millennium Development Goal targets for water and sanitation in urban areas”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 28, No 1, pages 99–118, available at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956247816628435.

Simon, David, Helen Arfvidsson, Geetika Anand, Amir Bazaz, Gill Fenna, Kevin Foster, Garima Jain, Stina Hansson, Louise Marix Evans, Nishendra Moodley, Charles Nyambuga, Michael Oloko, Doris Chandi Ombara, Zarina Patel, Beth Perry, Natasha Primo, Aromar Revi, Brendon Van Niekerk, Alex Wharton and Carol Wright (2016), “Developing and testing the Urban Sustainable Development Goal’s targets and indicators – a five-city study”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 28, No 1, pages 49–63, available at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956247815619865.


Book note prepared by Christine Ro

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