Sustainable Development Goals: how best to track and report progress?

13 May 2015

Mahesh Chandrasekarby Mahesh Chandrasekar

Next week the UN is meeting to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the global development agenda that will replace the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

This meeting is the fifth in this series of intergovernmental negotiations, and the last before UN member states turn attention to drafting the final outcome documents to be launched in September. 

People with disabilities are disproportionately represented among those currently left behind by global development. Global efforts to eliminate poverty cannot be achieved by excluding people with disabilities (who make up approximately 15% of the world’s population).

In the previous round of intergovernmental negotiations in April, the statement we made to UN member states gave six recommendations for securing the means of implementation needed to ensure the SDGs lead to effective and tangible change for persons with disabilities.

However, with no clear consensus on the final set of goals and targets to be launched just four months from now, we cannot take the inclusion of disability in the post-2015 development agenda for granted.

Critical opportunity

The meeting next week provides a critical opportunity to reiterate the importance of the SDGs focusing upon disability, and to remind UN member states to explicitly include people with disabilities in the final goals and targets.

Next week’s meeting focuses, in particular, on the review and follow-up of the SDGs. The effective tracking and reporting of progress will help to maintain momentum toward achieving the SDGs, and help to ensure a coherent global development agenda.

Recent papers by the International Disability Alliance, the International Disability and Development Consortium and the ODI provide valuable guidance on the architecture needed to support the SDGs.

We support their recommendations, and particularly call for:

  • The High Level Political Forum to act as the central forum responsible for tracking progress, promoting learning and knowledge sharing, highlighting effective policies, and exposing persistent gaps and challenges.
  • The UN to produce an annual global progress report that collates relevant data regarding the SDGs, summarises which goals and targets and on track, and outlines future scenarios based on progress made to date.
  • Regular thematic reviews on the impact of the SDGs on persons with disabilities to be produced under the auspices of the High Level Political Forum.
  • National roadmaps or strategies for achieving the SDGs to be developed jointly by country governments and national stakeholders (including civil society and the private sector).
    These roadmaps should be reviewed through a peer review mechanism that involves an independently chosen panel of UN Member States, using input and evidence from civil society and other stakeholders. They should also build upon and not draw back from existing regional strategies (for example, the Incheon Strategy).
  • Country governments to establish a national coordination mechanism for the implementation of the SDGs that is aligned with and includes the national-level focal point or coordination mechanism required by the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
    National governments that have not ratified the UNCRPD or do not have a UNCRPD focal point should be expected to ensure that national-level plans and mechanisms established to implement the post-2015 development agenda are inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities as stakeholders, and are in line with the UNCRPD.
  • The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to also review a State Parties progress against the SDGs, in respect of persons with disabilities.

Such measures will help to increase participation, hold UN Member States to account, and trigger structural transformations during the implementation of the SDGs.

Mahesh Chandrasekar is Head of Asia Campaigns and Advocacy at Leonard Cheshire Disability.


Thanks for the clarity of the analysis of the issues facing us and the action needed. Great and invaluable blog.
Derek Hooper

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