Are we on track? Looking at progress towards achieving the SDGs for children.

A preview of UNICEF’s flagship report Progress for every child in the SDG era was launched on February 21st in Minsk, Belarus at the Regional SDG Coordination Leaders Forum. The Forum gathered senior decision-makers from over 50 countries from around Europe and Central Asia to advance the coordination and implementation of the SDGs.   

The global analysis, which will be published on March 7, is UNICEF’s first comprehensive assessment on progress towards achieving the global SDG targets that have a bearing on children’s rights and well-being.

“Data is crucial for tracking our progress towards achieving the SDGs,” Mark Hereward, UNICEF’s Associate Director for Data and Analytics in the Division of Data, Research and Policy noted during his opening remarks at the pre-launch. “The report not only presents this data, but also helps us identify current trends across topics and regions, which means that we can make projections to 2030 and, most importantly, identify areas where greater efforts are needed.”

One such area is data collection itself - the analysis reveals that most countries have insufficient data to assess whether they are on track to achieve each of the SDG targets. This means that strengthening the capacity of national data collection bodies and mechanisms is required to effectively achieve the SDGs for children.

“14 out of 17 SDGs are directly affecting the lives of children and adolescents. That is why it is of utmost importance to UNICEF, together with partners, to be engaged in their monitoring and implementation,” Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, UNICEF Representative in Belarus underlined.

 “We have worked very closely with UNICEF to identify which indicators are most relevant to us, and establish plans to measure them effectively on the road to 2030,” Irina Medvedeva, Chair of Belarus National Statistical Committee, noted. “This report helps us stay focused on what still needs to be done.”

The importance of quality data was a strong theme of the Regional Forum itself. As highlighted by the First Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, and underscored by other key speakers and member-states, data collection and monitoring is a cornerstone for achieving SDGs and requires greater attention.

On the occasion of the Regional SDG Coordination Leaders Forum, UNICEF released country profiles for 53 countries primarily in Europe and Central Asia in attendance. Country profiles are based on an assessment of 39 indicators concerning children in the 2030 agenda. These indicators are grouped into five broad dimensions of child rights that cut across the Sustainable Development Goals. Countries’ status in each dimension is illustrated, based on an assessment of indicator performance against global targets.

The profiles offer a powerful tool for quantifying the scale of the challenge posed by the SDG targets and for identifying areas where the most effort is required to reach targets or improve monitoring.

The profiles of the 53 countries attending this event are available right now at uni.cf/sdgreport. All remaining country profiles as well as the full report and an interactive dashboard will be launched on March 7th, 2018 at the occasion of the UN Statistical Commission and can be accessed using the same link.