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Monitoring the implementation of SDG 16 for peaceful, just and inclusive societies

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Reporting on SDG16 provides an opportunity for governments to monitor their efforts to translate the global agenda into tangible improvements in people’s lives. Photo: UNDP India

The Sustainable Development Goal 16 recognizes the centrality of governance-informed development to ensure that societies’ aspirations for higher access and quality of public services will be achieved through core government functions that are effective, responsive and inclusive. These core functions of government (for example reform of the civil service or responsive and accountable public administration) are essential for development.

The key, however, lies in its implementation at country level. Unlike many other aspects of the 2030 Agenda, monitoring of SDG16 is a relatively new area of engagement but it offers an unprecedented opportunity to drive improvements in governance issues that underpin peaceful, just, and inclusive societies and the attainment of the entire 2030 agenda.

SDG16 embodies 10 targets and 23 indicators. However, the novelty and nature of the challenge on objective measuring is even considering only a few of the selected indicators (6 out of 23) are conceptually clear, have established methodology and standards available and data is regularly produced (tier 1). For other nine indicators, data are not regularly produced by countries (tier 2) and other eight do not have established methodology and standards are being developed and tested (tier 3).

Considering this, a few questions come to mind: how can we translate this new global commitment into tangible improvements in people’s lives? How can we measure what matters at country level?  How can we identify and use relevant data to develop national plans, budgets, and discussions which drive implementation of this ambitious goal? And finally how do we measure progress in a way that gives a sense of how life is changing for ordinary citizens?

To respond to the opportunity presented by reporting on SDG16, UNDP with funding from USAID is supporting countries (El Salvador, Georgia, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa,Tunisia, and Uruguay) in an analytically robust, inclusive and participatory process that engages actors throughout state and society. This pilot project aims to strengthen the inclusive national processes for monitoring implementation of SDG16 targets and indicators through:

  • The development and implementation of an inclusive monitoring methodology that includes government and civil society, and that supports implementation of SDG16;
  • Open and transparent monitoring with associated data available for the public;
  • Supporting national and global processes of monitoring and reporting on SDG16—including by enriching the global indicator framework which is still being developed and refined.

The model is adapted slightly to suit each country. For instance, Indonesia and Tunisia build on the previous experiences on illustrative measuring governance.  The project also incorporates periodic fine-tuning and peer-learning activities; Mexico recently hosted the mid-term gathering of pilot countries with support from the Office of the President, and the Secretarías de Relaciones Exteriores and Función Pública. The aim is to ensure that each country develops and refines a process that enables its achievement of the objectives described above in the most effective way, in three stages as follows:

  1. Collect indicators from National Statistical Offices; international platforms, government administrative data and non-official sources.
  2. Conduct consultations: analytical joint reviews of progress and recommendations in which government and civil society participate.
  3. Produce periodic scorecard tracking results on selected indicators, identifying data monitoring gaps and incorporating specific policy recommendations. 

Reporting on SDG16 provides an opportunity for governments to ‘ground’ the global agenda in national realities, making it relevant to issues that concern them most, develop indicators that reflect their priorities and that integrate them into national plans and budgets.

In sum, the pilot experience on country-by-country monitoring is already producing lessons and reflections for other countries. Three key emerging lessons, ahead of the upcoming High Level Political Forum include:

  1. Inclusive and participatory consultations are challenging but vital: There is a new generation of public policy development that means process matters just as much as content.
  2. Information-sharing as a conversation-starter: Platforms, portals and scorecards are all good and necessary to deepen the discussion around Goal 16 issues.
  3. Policy development and implementation is the ultimate goal: It is vital that in building the indicators framework, the data collection, consultations and scorecard development, efforts are ultimately aimed at policy development and implementation.

Monitoring is an integral part of the implementation process. Therefore, integrating the SDG16 monitoring into ongoing national, regional and global efforts is vital to streamline the various processes and mechanisms ongoing in each country and their upcoming National Voluntary Reviews to the United Nations.

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