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SDG Counting

Key SDG Data Events to Follow in 2021

By: Brady Press

With COVID-19 still affecting communities globally, many United Nations events for 2021 will take place virtually, along with some taking a hybrid in-person and virtual approach and others hoping to convene in-person later this year. While tech glitches caused minor drawbacks to virtual events last year, there were benefits as well — like wider accessibility and the ability to better absorb information by pausing and replaying web recordings as needed. If you are interested in following SDG data, below is a list of key events for this year.

Source: Unsplash, @matreding

59th Session of the Commission on Social Development

February 8–17, 2021; Virtual

The Commission — the advisory body responsible for the social development pillar of global development — convened mostly virtually for its 59th Session. The event’s priority theme was a “socially just transition toward sustainable development: the role of digital technologies in social development and well-being of all.” If you missed this event or want to revisit content, documents and panel recordings are available online.

The 52nd UN Statistical Commission

March 1–3, 2021; Virtual

The UN Statistical Commission brings together Statisticians from around the world and serves as the highest decision-making body for global statistical standards. This year, the 52nd session of the United Nations Statistical Commission will be held in a scaled down virtual format, consisting of 4 informal meetings from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM Eastern. More than 50 virtual side events will take place between January 20 and March 11, 2021. The side events calendar is available here.

Generation Equality Forum

March 29–31, 2021 in Mexico City and June 2021 (dates TBD) in Paris

The Generation Equality Forum is a global gathering that will bring together governments, corporations and civil society for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France. The Forum will secure a set of concrete, ambitious, and transformative commitments to achieve progress toward gender equality. There will be a particular focus on how COVID-19 has affected women and girls, particularly the increases in poverty and risks of gender-based violence.

High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF)

July 6–15, 2021; New York, NY

The high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF) is the core United Nations platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 SDGs. It includes the presentation of countries’ voluntary national reviews (VNRs). This year’s theme is, Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”. This year will focus primarily on SDGs 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 12, 13, 16 and 17 through the lens of COVID-19 response.

UN General Assembly

September 14–30, 2021; TBD

Every September, UN Member States meet in the General Assembly Hall at Headquarters in New York for the annual session and its highly visible general debate, marking the anniversary of the UN. Last year’s 75th session was held virtually. Specific event information to come.

Global Goals Week

Not yet announced for 2021

Global Goals Week is an annual week of action, awareness, and accountability for the SDGs at which over 100 partners will mobilize their communities, demand urgency to act on the Global Goals and ignite solutions for people and the planet. More specific event information to come.

UN World Data Forum

October 3–6, 2021; Bern, Switzerland

The United Nations World Data Forum (UNWDF) is an annual global event related to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. It brings together different data communities of producers and users as well as representatives of the economy, science, media, national statistical offices and other administrations and fields, to discuss the power and importance of high-quality data, technology and other innovative tools to fulfill the data demands of the 2030 Agenda. The UNWDF program is organized around six thematic areas:

  • New approaches to capacity development for better data;
  • Innovations and synergies across data ecosystems;
  • Leaving no one behind;
  • Understanding the world through data;
  • Building trust in data and statistics;
  • How far have we come?

UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP)

November 1–12, 2021; Glasgow, UK

The COP26 summit will bring together government, civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to accelerate action toward the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Meeting of the IAEG-SDGs

Not yet announced for 2021

In 2015, the UN Statistical Commission created the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), composed of Member States and including regional and international agencies as observers. The IAEG-SDGs was tasked to develop and implement the global indicator framework for the Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, which was developed and agreed upon in 2017. The annual meeting covers progress on the SDG indicators. Specific event information to come.

Brady Press is an Associate Director at Changing Our World, where she specializes in building strategic corporate citizenship programs. She is a consultant to SDGCounting and StartingUpGood.



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Keeping track of progress on trying to count and measure the success of the Sustainable Development Goals.