7 reasons SDG reporting matters

The SDG National Reporting Initiative launched today to help governments publish data on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. SDG reporting means publishing and disseminating data and statistics on SDG indicators for key stakeholders such as UN agencies, policymakers, businesses, NGOs and research institutions, and the general public. Here are 7 reasons to be excited about SDG reporting:


1. Tracking progress for improved decision-making.

The data made available through SDG reporting helps policymakers understand where their country stands in relation to their priorities, and how far they still need to go. For example, how many citizens live in poverty, and where do they live? How many girls attend school? How many people have access to a bank account? SDG reporting data and statistics provide a baseline level of knowledge for policymakers and other stakeholders. That gives countries around the world an unprecedented opportunity to track their progress across social, economic and environmental issues and use data to improve policies and programs.

2. Making sure that no one is left behind.

A core tenet of the 2030 Agenda is the concept of ‘no one left behind’ — the principle that sustainable development must include all people regardless of sex, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, income, disability, or geographic location. SDG reporting requires that data be disaggregated and detailed in ways that ensure that topics and populations that are difficult to track are included in decision-making. In order to target different population groups, governments and organizations working on development issues will need data that is granular enough to allow analysis at a detailed level.

3. Informing investment decisions and resource allocation.

SDG reporting provides a clear view of a country’s development landscape, enabling international organizations, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government agencies themselves to allocate resources strategically. By utilizing benchmark and historical data, stakeholders can assess whether their investments are leading to better development outcomes and how great an impact they are having.

4. Reducing reporting burdens by aligning national goals.

Often countries have multiple sets of goals related to development, with varying reporting requirements for each. Tanzania, for example, has the Tanzania Development Vision 2025, the UN 2030 Agenda, and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, in addition to sector-specific and subnational goals and priorities. By aligning their goals with the SDGs, national and subnational governments can benchmark their programs and measure impact in comparable ways, reduce reporting burdens, learn from each other, and make more strategic programmatic investments with less duplicated effort.

5. Improving data infrastructure and technical capacity.

Reporting on the SDGs requires a variety of data and statistics that is often collected from several government institutions, ranging from subnational governments to national ministries. SDG reporting can catalyze government efforts to coordinate data programs across these institutions. That, in turn, makes it possible to provide more comparable, interoperable data through a more coherent government data infrastructure.

6. Providing more accessible information for stakeholders working on development issues.

SDG reporting provides an opportunity to provide open data — publicly available information for anyone to use free of charge — on development topics such as health, transportation, or agriculture, and to help them target their efforts. Valid, consistent, and transparent reporting enables NGOs, businesses, civil society, and others to focus and align their work and advocacy.

7. Establishing a framework for collaboration

SDG reporting provides a framework for tracking progress in cities, districts and regions across countries — and a basis for bringing together colleagues from around the world to collaborate and find common solutions. With comparable metrics on a range of development goals, local governments can compare their progress in ways that transcend geographical boundaries and engage with others working on similar development priorities.


To facilitate greater information-sharing on SDG reporting between international, regional, and local communities the Center for Open Data Enterprise launched the SDG National Reporting Initiative. Visit the Initiative’s new website — SDGreporting.org— to browse through dozens of resources on SDG reporting, including a database of current country reporting, technical how-to guides, and links to relevant publications. The website also features a new publication: Strategies for SDG national reporting: A review of current approaches and key considerations for government reporting on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. This paper is a practical guide for national governments that are developing plans for SDG national reporting. As more countries report on their progress, they can realize the true value of SDG reporting as a tool for progress.

To learn more about the SDG National Reporting Initiative or visit SDGreporting.org.