SDG Targets and Indicators

Each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals comes with a series of more specific targets, 169 in total. These, again, are related to several indicators. In order to be able to explore where we are and how to reach the goals proposed these indicators are the data we need to objectively assess the progress of the world in the right direction.

The global indicator framework includes 231 unique indicators. The total number of indicators listed in the global indicator framework of SDG indicators is 247. However, twelve indicators repeat under two or three different targets.


Already in June 2015, the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) started the technical work of defining an SDG indicator framework. The xperience of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) showed the importance of thinking through indicators as early as possible to be able to measure progress towards achieving the SDGs. The practical starting point was set at the 47th session of the UN Statistical Commission held in March 2016

The global indicator framework was later adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017 and is contained in the Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (A/RES/71/313), Annex. 

According to the Resolution, the indicator framework will be refined annually and reviewed comprehensively by the Statistical Commission at its fifty-first session in March 2020 and its fifty-sixth session, to be held in 2025. The global indicator framework will be complemented by indicators at the regional and national levels, which will be developed by Member States.

Implementation by Member States

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development “encourages member states to conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels which are country-led and country-driven”. 

The indicator framework has the aim to turn the SDGs and their targets into a management tool to help countries develop implementation strategies and allocate resources accordingly, as well as a report card to measure progress towards sustainable development and help ensure the accountability of all stakeholders for achieving the SDGs.

Member states that signed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are encouraged to conduct reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, since these national reviews serve as a basis for the regular reviews by the high-level political forum (HLPF), meeting under the auspices of ECOSOC.

As stipulated in paragraph 84 of the 2030 Agenda, regular reviews by the HLPF are to be voluntary, state-led, undertaken by both developed and developing countries, and involve multiple stakeholders. The voluntary national reviews (VNRs) aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The VNRs also seek to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilize multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Annual progress report

Each year the UN Secretary General issues a progress report on the 17 SDGs. The dissemination platform of the Global SDG Indicators Database provides access to data compiled through the UN System in preparation for this report on “Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals”

The data of the different editions is the one used on this website regarding the overall progress on SDGs. There are many other initiatives to measure issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals which will be mentioned in future posts. One worth mentioning is the one of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) which has been working since 2015 on elaborating indicators to complement the work of the official indicator framework.