SDG commitments need financing, local monitoring: NITI Aayog

The National Indicator Framework, which monitors SDGs at the national level, did not include indicators for 36 out of the 169 targets, pointed the report  

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Monday 13 July 2020
National Framework for monitoring SDGs does not include indicators for 36 out of the 169 targets, said NITI Aayog. Photo: Vikas Choudhary

What gets measured gets done, and this cannot be truer in the case of sustainable development goals (SDG), according to India’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) on SDGs released July 13, 2020 at the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development. 

The report laid a roadmap to help meet India’s commitments towards Agenda 2030. The four crucial areas of action identified by the Aayog are: Improvement of the statistical system; monitoring at the local level; capacity building of all stakeholders; and SDG financing.

The SDG sectors would need an additional annual spending of 6.2 percentage points of GDP until 2030, the report said, citing estimates from a collaborative study done along with the International Monetary Fund. 

But the National Indicator Framework (NIF), which monitors SDGs at the national level, did not include indicators for 36 out of the 169 targets, pointed the report. 

It was presented by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairperson Rajiv Kumar.

The data gaps affecting monitoring of progress on SDGs was recently pointed out by the State Of India’s Environment 2020: In figures (SoE in figures 2020) report published by Down to Earth of the Centre for Science and Environment as well. According to SoE in figures 2020, the country is monitoring only 54 of the 130 SDG indicators.

Finalisation of the VNR report marked the culmination of an eight-month-long participatory country-wide process of consultation, data analysis and assimilation of diverse perspectives, according to Sanyukta Samaddar, advisor in NITI Aayog (SDGs).

One of the main reasons behind the missing indicators is the statistical system has not been collecting data that corresponds to the new challenges put forward by the SDG framework, said the report. This includes data on responsible consumption and production.

NITI Aayog added that for a few indicators, a suitable methodology does not exist. Hence, to ensure that the NIF is a comprehensive tool to monitor the whole of SDGs, the missing indicators should be identified or designed, following a consultative process, and added to the NIF.

The surveys relevant to SDGs would be conducted regularly at shorter intervals, the Aayog recommended. For example, SDG reporting so far had to depend on data sources such as the National Family Health Survey, whose periodicity was halved to four years.

Other surveys, on which SDG monitoring depends for data inputs, should be conducted at shorter intervals, the report added.

The review report underlined the importance of collection and presentation of state-level data disaggregated by gender, social category, income groups among others for sharper SDG monitoring and focused policy advice.

The realisation of the 2030 Agenda calls for state-of-the-art reporting and monitoring tools to measure progress under the framework and enable course correction. Twentieth century approach and solutions cannot effectively address 21st century challenges, the report said.

Modern tools and technologies of data collection such as mobile phones and geospatial data will be utilised to improve the data quality. NITI Aayog is also considering utilising and mainstreaming citizen-generated data and using them as inputs in the SDG monitoring system, it said in the report.

SDG localisation is the principal approach to achieve the 2030 Agenda in a time-bound manner in India, said NITI Aayog. 

State, district indicator frameworks a must

All states and Union Territories (UT) have been 'asked' to drive the SDGs by the NITI Aayog; they have been asked to put in place robust monitoring systems with the SIFs and DIFs as the foundation. States and UTs have been asked to develop their own SDG monitoring dashboards to track progress under their respective SIF and DIF.

Quality citizen-generated datasets can be put together to promulgate a ‘Leave No One Behind Indicator Framework’, the NITI Aayog said. 

But actions like upgrading country’s statistical system, improving monitoring from — national to state, district and even at the level of gram panchayat or Urban Local Body — to achieve the global goals and targets needs huge financial investments.

Public and private finances are required to close the global funding gap of $2.5 trillion annually to achieve the SDGs.

These estimates, however, cover just five SDG sectors: Education, health, electricity, roads and water and sanitation. Among these, ensuring safe and potable water and sanitation facilities for all rural and urban households will require an aggregate of $106 billion between 2020 and 2030. 

It would also be critical to address the financial vulnerability of these sectors to healthcare shocks, such as the recent novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the report said.

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