Scoring the Sustainable Development Goals: pathways for Asia and the Pacific

Despite considerable hope and enthusiasm raised by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and some quick initial efforts, many governments and stakeholders are uncertain about how to proceed concretely. The 2030 development agenda is intended to be transformative, and the goals seem comprehensive, but they also are very complex - with 17 goals, 169 targets, and 231 indicators. As the attention shifts from the overall vision of the SDGs to the details of the targets and indicators, there is some risk that an intensive focus on data and measurement may shift attention away from the big picture and concrete transformative actions. It
is important to ensure that scoring the sustainable development goals is not just about record keeping or only chasing small wins; it is essential to have broad strategies that are ambitious enough to score the winning goals. Such broad strategies will need transformative policies and institutional reform if the potential of the SDGs is to be realized. Cherry-picking a few SDGs, which are already part of national strategies, and maintaining the silo approach and institutional “turf” battles will not achieve the vision of the 2030 Agenda. This report aims to highlight the importance of keeping the focus on the big picture of how to achieve the transformative potential of SDGs. In order to do so, the report argues that more ambitious and strategic policies and comprehensive institutional reform are needed at the national level.