A European pathway to system-wide innovation?

By SalM on August 30, 2020 in News

About

For many years, Robert-Jan Smits has been Director General of DG Research and Innovation (RTD) at the European Commission. In this role, he had been instrumental in shaping European innovation policy and strategy. Today, he is the President of the Executive Board of the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. For him, collaboration is a key value for European competitiveness!

 “When Europe unites and works together, we are unbeatable.”

For Robert-Jan Smits, Europe is the perfect place to bring together stakeholders from industry, academia and civil society to create something game changing.

“Co-creation is essential for a long-term, sustainable innovation system.”

Our most important insights from this interview with Robert-Jan Smits.

  • In the past years, Europe has lost some ground in the race for innovation leadership.
  • However, multi-stakeholder collaboration can provide a strong competitive advantage for Europe.
  • Especially in the arena of emerging technologies, representatives from industry, academia and civil society need to join forces to innovate on a systems level and tackle grand societal challenges.

This article was taken from the Living Innovation webpage. Follow the link to the article

Assessment of Responsible Innovation | Methods and Practices

By SalM on August 26, 2020 in News

Bibliographic References

Assesment of Responsible Innovation. Methods and practices. Eds Emad Yaghmaei & Ibo van de Poel, Taylor and Francis group coming November 2020

Summary of the Content

Responsible Innovation encourages innovators to work together with stakeholders during the research and innovation process, to better align the outcomes of innovation with the values, needs and expectations of society. Assessing the benefits and costs of Responsible Innovation is crucial for furthering the responsible conduct of science, technology and innovation. However, there is until now only limited academic work on Responsible Innovation assessment. This book fills this lacuna.

Assessment of Responsible Innovation: Methods and Practices presents tools for measuring, monitoring, and reporting upon the Responsible Innovation process and the social, environmental, scientific, and economic impacts of innovations. These tools help innovators to mitigate risk and to strengthen their strategic planning. This book aligns assessment tools and practices with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The prospects as well as the limitations of various Responsible Innovation assessment approaches and tools are discussed, as well as their applicability in various industry contexts.

The book brings together leading scholars in the field to present the most comprehensive review of Responsible Innovation tools. It articulates the importance of assessment and value creation, the different metrics and monitoring systems that can be deployed and the reporting mechanisms, including the importance of effective communication.

Table of Contents

Introduction | Emad Yaghmaei and Ibo van de Poel

Part 1: Reflections on Responsible Innovation

  • 1. Scientific and democratic relevance of RRI: Dimensions and relations | Robert Gianni
  • 2. Locomotive Breath? Post Festum Reflections on the EC Expert Group on Policy Indicators for Responsible Research and Innovation | Roger Strand and Jack Spaapen

Part 2: RRI in Companies

  • 3. Strategic Responsible Innovation Management (StRIM) – A New Approach to Responsible Corporate Innovation Through Strategic CSR | Agata Gurzawska
  • 4. On the challenges and drivers of implementing responsible innovation in foodpreneurial SMEs. | Cristina Covello and Kostantinos latridis
  • 5. Supporting RRI uptake in industry: A qualitative and multi-criteria approach to analysing the costs and benefits of implementation | Andrea Porcari, Daniela Pimponi, Elisabetta Borsella, Pim Klaassen, Maria João Maia, Elvio Mantovani
  • 6. Do voluntary standards support responsible innovation implementation and reporting in industry? The case of the European food sector | Edurne A. Inigo, Jilde Garst, Vincent Blok and Konstantina M. Pentaraki

Part 3: Responsible Innovation Assessment

  • 7. Monitoring Responsible Research and Innovation in the European Research Area – the MoRRI project | Ingeborg Meijer and Wouter van de Klippe
  • Best practice I: The B Impact Assessment | Joey van den Brink
  • 8. The COMPASS Self-Check Tool: Enhancing Organizational Learning for Responsible Innovation through Self-Assessment | Adele Tharani, Katharina Jarmai, Norma Schönherr and Patricia Urban
  • Best practice II: Societal Readiness Thinking Tool by NewHoRRIzon | Tung Tung Chan and Ingeborg Meijer
  • 9. Reflexive Monitoring in Action as a methodology for learning and enacting Responsible Research and Innovation | Pim Klaassen, Lisa Verwoerd, Frank Kupper and Barbara Regeer
  • Best practice III: Data-driven Materiality Analysis | Donato Calace and Adriana Farenga
  • 10. A Future-oriented evaluation and development model for responsible research and innovation | Mika Nieminen and Veikko Ikonen
  • Best practice IV: PRISMA KPI analysis tool | Steven Flipse
  • 11. Assessing Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Systems in the Digital Age | Claudia Werker
  • Best practice V: Managing social impacts and ethical issues of Research and Innovation: the CEN/WS 105 guidelines to innovate responsibly | Andrea Porcari and Elena Mocchio
  • 12. RRI Intensity – A proposed method of assessing the requirement for Responsible Innovation in ICT projects | Martin de Heaver, Marina Jirotka, Margherita Nulli, Bernd Carsten Stahl, and Carolyn Ten Holter
  • Best practice VI: Benchmarking for a better world: Assessing corporate performance on the SDGs | Lisanne Urlings
  • 13. The Responsible Side of Innovation: Towards the Measurement of a New Construct | Robert Verburg, Laurens Rook, and Udo Pesch
  • Best practice VII: Enabling the private sector to manage its impact on the SDGs | Charlotte Portier
  • 14. RRI measurement and assessment: some pitfalls and a proposed way forward | Ibo van de Poel

This article was taken from the RRITools website.

Link to the book: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9780429298998

RRING Fact-Sheet

By SalM on August 25, 2020 in RRING NEWS

RRING Project is initially a research project which is funded through EU Horizon 2020 Programme. It has series of research objectives including:

  1. Understanding of the global State of the Art in responsibility in research
  2. Understanding how responsibility may contribute to the achievement of the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs
  3. Understanding and advocating responsibility in research and innovation as not only a moral value, but also as a competitive advantage for excellence in research andinnovation

RRING Network

The RRING Network has two objectives:

  1. To create a community that supports researchers and others that mobilizing for greater responsbility in research and innovation, with a focus on community and mutual learning and staying motivated
  2. To build advocacy capacity in a community that supports global implementation everywhere of the common global standards announced in the Recommendations on Science and Scientific Researchers.

Who is it for?

The network is for research institutions, individuals, scientific organisations that practice, regulate and promote science as well as anyone concerned with the rules, policies and ethics in the science. This might include scientist and specialist from: industries, RPOs, RFOs, Citizens, Civil Society Organisations, Policy, Researchers, International organisations, Science educators and Communicators, Science Publisher Organisations, Student organisations

RRING Membership: Support and Benefits

The RRING community will be crafting over time a multitude of approaches that offer mutual learning to its members:

  • Provide online training on aspects of responsibility in research and innovation, including compliance with UN and regional standards and SDGs
  • Connect people and catalyse online networking
  • Introduce through monthly online workshops fresh ideas on how research and innovation systems are addressing Gender, Diversity, Ethics, Openness, Access, Science / STEM Education for All, Public Engagement, Work Conditions, Environmental Protection, Freedoms and Careers
  • Offer a contact database of expert practitioners on all aspects of responsible research and innovation
  • Provide easy reference for tools and up to date information, to allow stakeholders in every place to participate in assessing responsibility
  • Introduce through online workshops fresh ideas on how to apply for funding, especially in areas requiring RRI and SGDs compliance, and training on how to be a partner in project proposals requiring expertise in RRI and SDGs.

Benefits of membership are extended free to policy makers who participate in monthly workshops:

  • Support in ensuring consolidated insights for the national reports on implementation of the Recommendation on Science, covering each four year reporting periods
  • Access to global good practice examples
  • Assist members to mobilise for advocacy and activities aiming at achieving UN’s Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as an integral part of advancing science

The RRING Network

RRING supports and incorporates UNESCO Recommendation on Science and Scientific Research

RRING acknowledges that each region of the world is advancing its own agenda on responsibility. Different priorities and achievements are relevant and exist throughout the world. But today, all communities of science can share a common language for responsibility in research and innovation systems. This language has been defined by governments through the Recommendation on
Science and Scientific Researchers after four years of consultation with scientific communities.

RRING aspires to bring together a community, across borders, defined by a devotion to the advancement of science and diversity. It
aligns closely to the Recommendation on Science vision, providing opportunities to inform the international governmental dialogue on
science, by collective actions. Initial chapters are being formed in various countries.

The UNESCO Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers is an important standard-setting instrument which not only codifies the goals and value systems by which science operates, but also emphasises that these need to be supported and protected if science is to flourish. It has been adopted by 195 states of the world without abstention at UNESCO’s General Conference in 2017. This is the first time that a global consensus on science norms was codified into such a comprehensive set of guidelines, and it is now a threshold for all research systems of the world to meet, in order that relations between scientists across borders proceed smoothly everywhere and over the long term.

The Recommendation has been widely endorsed by the international community, and it is expected to become generally known to the scientific community whose collective interests it aims to serve after 2020. The Recommendation reflects high standards for both
scientific freedom and responsibility.

Responsibility in research and innovation will make a difference to our quality of life on Earth and is brought into focus in 2020 by the need for science to address the needs of public health while not stirring up panic or spreading misinformation.

In which general subject area(s) do you hold your highest degree (at or above the bachelor’s level)?

Responsible Research and Innovation

Based on the RRING’s investigation and findings, EU policy Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) may also be a tool to develop a competitive advantage. RRI allows for the incorporation of stakeholders’ concerns and needs to the final outcome, hence increasing the marketability of research and innovation. Our global survey revealed that businesses that aim to integrate ethical dimensions in their research and innovation processes have a better customer performance, a key dimension of competitiveness. Our study also showed that the dimensions of RRI are important throughout global regions, although practices are adapted to the local environment. In fact, engaging in networks and staying responsive to local realities are among the main recommendations for the development of a competitive advantage based on RRI.


Link to the full Fact-sheet below

RRING_e-fact-sheet

How to embed Responsible Innovation in Corporate Reporting

By SalM on August 23, 2020 in News

About Emad Yaghmei

We are presenting you an interview that was conducted by our colleagues from the Living Innovation with mr. Emad Yaghmei. Emad Yaghmaei is Senior Researcher at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at Delft University of Technology. His research interests cover governance of organisations and processes with focus on their ethical, social, and governmental impacts. He is specially interested in designing and developing necessary policies and methods for implementation and evaluation of Responsible Innovation within industrial context. His publications lie in the intersection of science, innovation, technology, and society. His current work takes the outset in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and its institutionalisation within stakeholders across Innovation Ecosystems.

Challenges of Implementing Responsibility

“Lack of management support is basically a callenging part. It depends on the top of the company, of the sector and of the size and also It depends on how long the ecompany has been ran. Normally for the company that has been running for 5 country is easier to addopt RRI, unlike for those that exist for 5 years and less, which are at the current moment just thinking how to avoid bankruptcy.” as stated by mr. Yaghmei

He pointed out on three issues that emerge within the process of embedding RRI in the core of the company’s business

“Lack of management support doesnt matter for the type of the size, is one of the things – CEO may be commited but the management is not engaged. This is the first issue that emerges when we talk about embedding RRI in Companies.

Second issue is that some of the things that are important is that RRI, sustainability – may be not placed in the core creation of the company, that represents a real problem. IF they want to embed sustainability in their agenda, since it is not placed in value creation it is quite difficult to make it possible.

Third – Unclear objectives can be an issue as well. Unclear competences, which decisions or policies you promote as a company.

And as well, missing budget. They are increasing the investment to capture the value returns in responsible innovation. Long term they may get the commercial gain, they may get the corporate image and for these reasons the missing budget may be an issue.”

Our most important insights from this interview with Emad Yaghmaei:

  • Even though RRI has gained traction in the private sector, many companies struggle to translate abstract concepts into business action.
  • Jointly developed Key Performance Indicators provide a great opportunity to align economic and societal values.
  • However, in some disruptive sectors, we still need a broader societal discussion to be able to define RRI indicators.

This interview has been taken from the Living Innovation website. To watch the full interview click on the video below

The AI National Strategy in Italy: Setting Out Best Practices

By SalM on August 21, 2020 in News

The Ministry of Economic Development in Italy recently published the AI national strategy, which identifies the risks posed by the irresponsible use of AI, as well as ways to mitigate those risks.

On July 2, 2020, the Ministry of Economic Development in Italy published the Artificial Intelligence (AI) national strategy (the Strategy). It is one of the first published national strategies (followed by France, Germany, New Zealand, and the United States) and is already considered one of the most comprehensive ones (Brookings, June 2020). The Strategy gives an overview of what can happen when AI is not used in a responsible way. These risks include undesirable consequences for the economy, society and the environment. The Strategy sets out specific ways to minimize those risks.

The economy and the labour market

The Strategy assumes a human-centric approach, which implies that AI is designed and developed as a service for humans. In other words, the goal is not to replace humans, but rather to enhance their lives. For this reason, the Strategy underlines that strong government guidance is needed for regulating the labour market because businesses are likely to substitute humans with AI even if it decreases quality, as it significantly reduces costs. The Strategy says that these processes should be regulated by the government to avoid high levels of unemployment.

Sustainability

The Strategy is focused on sustainability and achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). It argues that AI should be developed with attention to environmental impacts and should be oriented towards reducing poverty and hunger; reducing gender and race inequalities; helping to establish inclusive education; ensuring access to water and energy; protecting the environment; and reinforcing social justice.

Society

According to the Strategy, society should be prepared for the changes coming with the use of AI. This can be done through systemic changes in the education system and through the implementation of lifelong learning programs, to ensure that people substituted by AI can be requalified. It is crucial that schools and universities adapt, preparing specialists that will have a place in the new economies created by the widespread use of AI. The educational system should include introductory courses for AI and specifically designed PhD programs that are connected with real practice in industries.

Increasing awareness of AI is essential for preparing society for this transformation. The Strategy suggests organizing e-learning platforms in Italian, where questions related to AI can easily be communicated. It also recommends launching informative campaigns via social networks and organizing AI festivals in major Italian cities, where the main risks and opportunities of AI can be presented.

The Strategy gives 82 concrete recommendations following the principles underlined above. It represents an important step towards regulating the development of AI, leading it towards “friendly” AI, and sets a good example for other countries.

In the following, you can take a look of the strategy and on how other countries are viewing Artificial Intelligence

How different countries view artificial intelligence


This article has been taken from Living Innovation website. Follow the link to the original post 

RRI Perspectives for Horizon Europe

By SalM on August 19, 2020 in News

We are presenting you the interview with Alexander Gerber, Professor for Science Communication at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences which was taken by the Livin . For the past years, he has led the NUCLEUS project. NUCLEUS was a four-year, Horizon 2020 project investigating how to make RRI a reality in research institutions globally. And he stated in the interview “Industry is delivering promising innovations, but we have failed to communicate societal needs and concerns upstream in research processes.”

Implications of RRI on policy makers

Mr Gerber has made remarks on several topics during this 15 minute interview, out of which one focused specifically on the Implictions of RRI on policy makers , and he stated:
“Since we talk about a regulated system, publicly funded research – you can change quite easily that by modifying the assessment criteria and the funding criteria – which in industry wouldn’t work, which in the industry would not work. If an entrepreneur doesn’t like the certain framing he goes to other markets, they just change the product line. The research community follows the policies of funders to some extent, and it is a lever for systemic change on how research and innovation is contacted in this continent.”

Bringing RRI to life

Mr Gerber commented on the emergence of the RRI and bringing it to life and said that there are  “3 points. First one, it is not something you just tick, it is a proccess in a context, it is something you have to go through. Second point, it is a governance issue which included policy incentives, regulations and a need for a top down mechanism. Others wonder whether is it a cultural change, or if it is a new change in scientific culture. Nucleus project proves that it is both of it.”

During this interview Mr. Gerber made some very important insights, and some of them are:

  • Often, research institutions and companies struggle to operationalize RRI into their day-to-day practices.
  • We need to bring policymakers, researchers and citizens to the table to make RRI concrete and tangible in the specific project’s context.
  • Only then, can we implement RRI in the upcoming Horizon Europe funding scheme and show that societal interests and business opportunities can be aligned successfully.

Follow this link to the Living Innovation website

Review of the SDGs in Latin America and the Caribbean

By SalM on August 16, 2020 in RRING NEWS

Introduction

In line with objective 3 of the RRING project, the research is a first step to “align RRI to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to provide a global common denominator for advancement of RRI, and address Grand Challenges globally.”

This first step was mainly done through desktop research, relying on UN reports as well as voluntary national reviews (as submitted to the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) to determine what are the most important SDGs in each region (named ‘geography’ in this task) and as geographical regions use the 5 regions defined by the UN for its regional commissions, and its monitoring of the SDGs, while noting that every state is different and regional averages can be misleading, because the 5 global regions exhibit internal variety.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019

In July 2019, the High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) reviewed global progress on the last remaining set of SDGs. 142 countries have now presented their Voluntary National Reviews. All SDGs have now been highlighted at the HLPF. As mentioned above, this year in effect closes the first cycle of the 2030 Agenda implementation.

July also marked the launch of The Sustainable Development Report 2019, prepared by UN DESA’s Statistics Division with inputs from more than 50 international and regional organizations. It provides charts, infographics and maps on SDG progress, and presents an in-depth analysis of selected indicators. Additionally, the report highlights regional progress and analyses.

The report is accompanied by a comprehensive Statistical Annex and the Global SDG Indicator Database with country and regional data that can also be accessed interactively on the Sustainable Development Goal indicators website.

This data provides a clear overview per country and region of the progress that has so far been made on the SDGs, as well as the challenges that still remain. This allows us to select the data we need from selected countries and regions to determine if there are any trends. However, since these are UN documents, they can only consolidate the information provided by Member States, so as to reveal gaps (and call these gaps priorities). They do not reflect how each country or region is implementing the SDGs except in this broad sense of progress achieved on the basis of measurements taken (e.g. the quality of how the SDG targets are incorporated in national legislation would not be visible in the aggregated record, except by means of illustrations). There are nonetheless, broadly stated conclusions on gaps to be addressed, which may be called priorities, because all states are committed to meet all SDGs. These conclusions are backed by the most inclusive political process and documentation available, so it is considered a reliable source for identifying priorities.

According to the report, the two main challenges facing the world are climate change and inequalities among and within countries, corresponding to respectively SDG 13 ‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts ‘and SDG 10 ‘Reduce inequality within and among countries’. Though progress has been made, poverty remains an issue in many parts of the world and hunger has actually been increasing in recent years. The overview per region below takes many direct excerpts from the UN SG’s report.

Review on Latin America and the Caribbean

This region seems to face the biggest challenges in terms of employment (SDG8) and in terms of criminality and institutions (SDG16) as the figures indicates some of the highest gaps for those respective SDGs. Among the other most important to the region are SDG 2 (Hunger), SDG 3 (Health), SDG 4 (Education), SDG 5 (Gender equality), SDG 6 (Water), SDG 7 (Energy), SDG 9 (Industry), SDG 10 (Inequalities), SDG 11 (Sustainable cities), SDG 13 (Climate Change), SDG 14 (Oceans), and SDG 15 (Life on Land).

SDG1 ON POVERTY

There are few outliers among the countries across the region so the region is considered as whole although extreme poverty still exists in certain countries, such as Haiti.

SDG2 ON HUNGER

This isan important SDG for the region. In South America, hunger appears to be increasing which may be due to economic slowdown, reducing fiscal capacity to protect the most vulnerable against rising domestic prices and loss of income (SDG Indicator 2.1.1). Additional reasons could be attributed to adverse weather conditions. As an example, the price of maize climbed steeply during 2018 in Central America, because of concerns about the impact of severe dry weather on the main season’s crops. Similar to other developing regions, there are a lot of small-scale food producers that are poor; have limited capacities and resources; face regular food insecurity; and have limited access to markets and services (SDG Indicator 2.3.2).

SDG3 ON HEALTH:

There are no particular outliers in the indicator data among the countries across this region, for this SDG. Neglected topical diseases (NTDs) are a problem, as over 75 million people required intervention is 2017 (SDG Indicator 3.3.5). The region also has the an extremely high death rate due to road traffic injuries second (19.2 per 100,000 population in 2013, SDG Indicator 3.6.1) and, compared to other regions, has the world’s highest adolescent birth rate although the situation is improving (61.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 years in 2018, SDG Indicator 3.7.2).

SDG4 ON EDUCATION

In 2015, one in two children and adolescents was not proficient in mathematics and over one third was not proficient in reading (SDG Indicator 4.1.1).

SDG5 ON GENDER EQUALITY

As previously indicated, there is no data in the report of its statistical annex by region on SDG Indicator 5.1.1 ‘Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non‑discrimination on the basis of sex’ though it could be interesting to include them at a later stage. Apart from that Latin America and the Caribbean has some of the highest numbers of women in parliament (31.6% in 2019, SDG Indicator 5.5.1)) and in managerial positions (39% in 2018, SDG Indicator 5.5.2)) though still no achieving gender parity.

SDG6 ON WATER

This SDG has mixed results. Huge progress has been made in terms of proportion of population using safely managed drinking water in the region (SDG Indicator 6.1.1). In terms of population using safely managed sanitation services, progress has also been made but remains low overall (31.3% in 2017, SDG Indicator 6.2.1). As mentioned before, water quality has been deteriorating since the 1990s in most rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America (SDG Indicator 6.3.2). The degree of integrated water resources management implementation (0-100) is the lowest for this region at 35 (2018, SDG Indicator 6.5.1).

SDG7 ON ENERGY

The region did not improve much in terms of primary energy intensity rate between 2010 and 2016, with only 0.8% being far below target of 2.7% (SDG Indicator 7.3.1)

SDG8 ON ECONOMIC GROWTH

This can be considered another important SDG for the region for several reasons. First of all, annual growth rate of real GDP per capita decreased by 0.2% in 2017 (SDG Indicator 8.1.1). Second, annual growth rate of real GDP per worker only increased by 0.5% in 2018 which was the second lowest number for all regions and well below the average (SDG Indicator 8.2.1). Third, unemployment rate is second highest for all regions with 8% in 2018 (SDG Indicator 8.5.2). The figures become worse when disaggregated by sex and age. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the unemployment rate for women was almost 3% higher and even 14% higher for young women.

SDG9 INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

The manufacturing value added share in GDP are below the global average in 2019 (13%, SDG Indicator 9.2.1). The region does score well on providing access loans or lines of credit for small-scale industries (SDG Indicator 9.3.2). As regards, research and development (R&D) expenditure as a proportion of GDP the region is lagging behind and total researchers as proportion of population (SDG Indicators 9.5.1 and 9.5.2).

SDG10 ON INEQUALITIES

There are no particular outliers among countries of this region in the indicator data in the report. Of note is that, despite a global decrease, the labour income share increased from 48.4 to 50.5% between 2004 and 2017 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

SDG11 ON SUSTAINABLE CITIES

One of in five people living in cities are still living in slums in 2018 (SDG Indicator 11.1.1). Furthermore, as the region is prone to seismic activity, SDG Indicator 11.5.1 is of importance.

SDG 12 ON CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION

No particular outliers in the indicator data for the SDG.

SDG13 ON CLIMATE CHANGE

As for all other regions, this is considered a ‘priority’ SDG.

SDG14 ON OCEANS

As for all regions, this SDG is of general importance. Of particular note in the report is the fact that ocean pollution is most acute in equatorial zones, including in Central America (SDG Indicator 14.1.1).

SDG15 ON LIFE ON LAND

Although the region has a high Forest area as a proportion of total land area, the net forest area decreased with 0.23% between 2011 and 2015 (SDG Indicator 15.2.1). Furthermore, land degradation is 26.5% in Latin America (SDG Indicator 15.3.1).

SDG16 ON PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS

This is a very important SDG for the region. Most importantly, Latin America and the Caribbean remains the most violent region that is not afflicted by war. The region has the highest homicide rate worldwide with 24 per 100,000 population in 2017 (SDG Indicator 16.1.1) and the number has been increasing since 2005. 34% of all homicides worldwide in 2017 occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean. The number of unsentenced detainees is also higher than average (40.3% of prison population in 2015-2017, SDG Indicator 16.3.2).

SDG17 ON PARTNERSHIPS

No countries stood out in the indicator data as not being on track for this SDG.

Review of the SDGs in Europe and North America

By SalM on August 13, 2020 in RRING NEWS

Introduction

In line with objective 3 of the RRING project, the research is a first step to “align RRI to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to provide a global common denominator for advancement of RRI, and address Grand Challenges globally.”

This first step was mainly done through desktop research, relying on UN reports as well as voluntary national reviews (as submitted to the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) to determine what are the most important SDGs in each region (named ‘geography’ in this task) and as geographical regions use the 5 regions defined by the UN for its regional commissions, and its monitoring of the SDGs, while noting that every state is different and regional averages can be misleading, because the 5 global regions exhibit internal variety.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019

In July 2019, the High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) reviewed global progress on the last remaining set of SDGs. 142 countries have now presented their Voluntary National Reviews. All SDGs have now been highlighted at the HLPF. As mentioned above, this year in effect closes the first cycle of the 2030 Agenda implementation.

July also marked the launch of The Sustainable Development Report 2019, prepared by UN DESA’s Statistics Division with inputs from more than 50 international and regional organizations. It provides charts, infographics and maps on SDG progress, and presents an in-depth analysis of selected indicators. Additionally, the report highlights regional progress and analyses.

The report is accompanied by a comprehensive Statistical Annex and the Global SDG Indicator Database with country and regional data that can also be accessed interactively on the Sustainable Development Goal indicators website.

This data provides a clear overview per country and region of the progress that has so far been made on the SDGs, as well as the challenges that still remain. This allows us to select the data we need from selected countries and regions to determine if there are any trends. However, since these are UN documents, they can only consolidate the information provided by Member States, so as to reveal gaps (and call these gaps priorities). They do not reflect how each country or region is implementing the SDGs except in this broad sense of progress achieved on the basis of measurements taken (e.g. the quality of how the SDG targets are incorporated in national legislation would not be visible in the aggregated record, except by means of illustrations). There are nonetheless, broadly stated conclusions on gaps to be addressed, which may be called priorities, because all states are committed to meet all SDGs. These conclusions are backed by the most inclusive political process and documentation available, so it is considered a reliable source for identifying priorities.

According to the report, the two main challenges facing the world are climate change and inequalities among and within countries, corresponding to respectively SDG 13 ‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts ‘and SDG 10 ‘Reduce inequality within and among countries’. Though progress has been made, poverty remains an issue in many parts of the world and hunger has actually been increasing in recent years. The overview per region below takes many direct excerpts from the UN SG’s report.

Review on Europe and North America

This region is most on track to reach the SDG targets. Rising inequality (SDG10), climate change (SDG13), gender equality (SDG5), mental health (SDG3) and especially consumption patterns (SDG12) are the most Important for this region.

SDG1 ON POVERTY

No outliers in the indicator data for this SDG. Though, as will come up later, concerns were raised that indicators such as homelessness should be included to give a more proper overview for the region.

SDG2 ON HUNGER

No outliers in the indicator data for this SDG.

SDG3 ON HEALTH

This SDG has two indicators that are worth mentioning. With 16.4 deaths per 100,000 population in 2016, the region had the highest suicide rate according to SDG Indicator 3.4.2 – mostly men. Additionally, alcohol consumption per capita is also the highest for any region with 10.7 litres per capita in 2016 (SDG Indicator 3.5.2)

SDG4 ON EDUCATION

No outliers in the indicator data for this SDG.

SDG5 ON GENDER EQUALITY

As previously indicated, there is no data in the report of its statistical annex by region on SDG Indicator 5.1.1 ‘Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non‑discrimination on the basis of sex’ though it could be interesting to include them at a later stage. The proportion of ever-partnered women and girls aged 15 to 49 years subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months, remains too high at 9% in Europe in 2017 (SDG Indicator 5.2.1). The region counted 29.4% women in national parliaments (SDG Indicator 5.5.1) and 37% women in managerial positions (SDG Indicator 5.5.2) in 2018 ´the highest number for any region but still far off from gender parity.

SDG6 ON WATER

Worth mentioning here is that the region is prone to high levels of water stress.

SDG7 ON ENERGY

The region is still below the global average with regard to renewable energy as part of the total energy consumption (SDG Indicator 7.2.1). It is also lagging behind in terms of improvement rate of primary energy intensity with 2.1% between 2000 and 2016 being below the target of 2.7%. Energy efficiency is crucial to reduce greenhouse gases.

SDG8 ON ECONOMIC GROWTH

Domestic material consumption per capita remains above the average with 15.21 tonnes in 2017 (SDG Indicator 8.4.2). Northern America has been making great progress since 2000 to reduce its number. Unemployment in Europe is relatively high with 6.7% in 2018 (SDG Indicator 8.5.2).

SDG9 ON INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

The region has a high manufacturing value added per capita ($4,938 in 2018, SDG Indicator 9.2.1). Of concern is that the region is responsible for nearly one third of total CO2 emissions from fuel combustion (10,413 millions of tonnes in 2016, SDG Indicator 9.4.1) – Eastern Asia being responsible for another third of total. Apart from that the region is strong in expenditure in R&D (2.21% of GDP in 2016, SDG Indicator 9.5.1).

SDG10 ON INEQUALITIES

Apart from it being highlighted by the UN Secretary General as a major challenge, the report also states that rich and poor countries alike can benefit from policies promoting equality and inclusivity. Another thing of note here is that, according to the report, Europe and Northern America is one of the main drivers of the declining global labour share. Between 2004 and 2017, the adjusted labour share of GDP decreased by 2& in the region (from 59.6 to 57.6%, SDG Indicator 10.4.1).

SDG11 ON SUSTAINABLE CITIES

No outliers in the indicator data for this SDG.

SDG12 ON CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION

The SDG could be considered a ‘priority’ for the region. The report states that the lifestyles of people in the richest nations are heavily dependent on resources extracted from poorer countries. In 2017, high-income countries had the highest material footprint per capita (27 metric tonnes per person), 60% higher than the upper-middle-income countries and more than 13 times the level of low-income countries (SDG Indicator 12.2.1). On a per-capita basis, high-income countries rely on 9.8 metric tons of primary materials extracted elsewhere in the world. Domestic material consumption per capita is also above the average with 15.21 tonnes per capita in 2017 (SDG Indicator 12.2.2). Furthermore, according to the report, roughly a third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year, most of the food in developed countries (SDG Indicator 12.3.1).

SDG13 ON CLIMATE CHANGE

As for all other regions, this is considered a ‘priority’ SDG.

SDG14 ON OCEANS

According to data on SDG Indicator 14.4.1 the Mediterranean and Black Sea region had the lowest percentage of sustainable fish stocks (37.8%) in 2015.

SDG15 ON LIFE ON LAND

The report mentions that the region is making efforts to increase forested land. However, the proportion of forest area within legally established protected areas was still below the global average (6.1% in 2015, SDG Indicator 15.2.1)

SDG16 ON PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS

No outliers in the indicator data for this SDG.

SDG17 ON PARTNERSHIPS:

The report mentions two issues. The first is that ODA is dropping and that donor countries are not living up to their pledge to ramp up development finance, which decreased the chances of achieving the SDGs. The second is that there has been an increase in trade tensions among large economies, adversely affecting consumers and producers worldwide and negatively impacting business and financial markets.

Review of the SDGs in Asia and Pacific

By SalM on August 13, 2020 in RRING NEWS

Introduction

In line with objective 3 of the RRING project, the research is a first step to “align RRI to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to provide a global common denominator for advancement of RRI, and address Grand Challenges globally.”

This first step was mainly done through desktop research, relying on UN reports as well as voluntary national reviews (as submitted to the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) to determine what are the most important SDGs in each region (named ‘geography’ in this task) and as geographical regions use the 5 regions defined by the UN for its regional commissions, and its monitoring of the SDGs, while noting that every state is different and regional averages can be misleading, because the 5 global regions exhibit internal variety.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019

In July 2019, the High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) reviewed global progress on the last remaining set of SDGs. 142 countries have now presented their Voluntary National Reviews. All SDGs have now been highlighted at the HLPF. As mentioned above, this year in effect closes the first cycle of the 2030 Agenda implementation.

July also marked the launch of The Sustainable Development Report 2019, prepared by UN DESA’s Statistics Division with inputs from more than 50 international and regional organizations. It provides charts, infographics and maps on SDG progress, and presents an in-depth analysis of selected indicators. Additionally, the report highlights regional progress and analyses.

The report is accompanied by a comprehensive Statistical Annex and the Global SDG Indicator Database with country and regional data that can also be accessed interactively on the Sustainable Development Goal indicators website.

This data provides a clear overview per country and region of the progress that has so far been made on the SDGs, as well as the challenges that still remain. This allows us to select the data we need from selected countries and regions to determine if there are any trends. However, since these are UN documents, they can only consolidate the information provided by Member States, so as to reveal gaps (and call these gaps priorities). They do not reflect how each country or region is implementing the SDGs except in this broad sense of progress achieved on the basis of measurements taken (e.g. the quality of how the SDG targets are incorporated in national legislation would not be visible in the aggregated record, except by means of illustrations). There are nonetheless, broadly stated conclusions on gaps to be addressed, which may be called priorities, because all states are committed to meet all SDGs. These conclusions are backed by the most inclusive political process and documentation available, so it is considered a reliable source for identifying priorities.

According to the report, the two main challenges facing the world are climate change and inequalities among and within countries, corresponding to respectively SDG 13 ‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts ‘and SDG 10 ‘Reduce inequality within and among countries’. Though progress has been made, poverty remains an issue in many parts of the world and hunger has actually been increasing in recent years.

The overview per region below takes many direct excerpts from the UN SG’s report.

Asia and the Pacific

SDG 2 (hunger), SDG 3 (Health), SDG 4 (Education), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 6 (Water), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities), 13 (Climate Change) and 14 (Rising Sea Levels) are most important. This is the largest region and is divided into three subregions in the report: Central and Southern Asia, Eastern and South-Eastern Asia and Oceania. As this region is very large and diverse, so are the results of the SDG report. Central and Southern Asia face similar problems as Africa, such as hunger (SDG2) and slums (SDG11), while Eastern Asia is on track. Oceania has as some of its most Important SDGs climate change (SDG13) and rising sea levels (SDG14).

SDG1 ON POVERTY

Eastern Asia has made big improvements as its poverty rate fell from 52% in 1990 to 1% in 2015. The other sub-regions are also seeing massive improvements on population living below $1.90 per day. The same can be said about the employed population living in the region. This means SDG 1.1.1 is overall going well. Least well are Central and Southern Asia (still at 12%) and Oceania (still at 20%, excluding Australia and New Zealand). Notable for SDG Indicator 1.3.1 is that only 14.4% of children are covered by social protection systems in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia. Worth mentioning here again that climate-related disasters are increasing, floods, storms, droughts, heatwaves or other extreme weather events, causing huge economic and human loss, especially in the poorest countries (SDG Indicator 1.5.1).

SDG2 ON HUNGER

This SDG could be considered a ‘priority’ for a number of reasons. Data for SDG Indicator 2.1.1 shows that 277 million under nourished people live in Southern Asia (roughly one third of the global total and 39% of all undernourished children). The regional proportion of undernourished children in Central and Southern Asia regional proportion went down from 49 to 32%, but up from 37 to 38% in Oceania, excl. Australia and New Zealand. In any case, both sub-regions are still far below the target for SDG Indicator 2.2.1. Furthermore, more than half of children with acute undernutrition (wasting) live in Southern Asia (SDG Indicator 2.2.2). Asia also still has a high number of small-scale food producers that are poor; have limited capacities and resources; face regular food insecurity; and have limited access to markets and services (SDG Indicator 2.3.2).

SDG3 ON HEALTH

Many problems remain, making it another ‘priority’ SDG. Southern Asia and Oceania*[1] still face very high levels of maternal mortality ratio (SDG Indicator 3.1.1). 30% total number of under-5 deaths were in Southern Asia (43.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017, SDG Indicator 3.2.1) while Oceania* is also still far above the global average with 47.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. South-Eastern Asia and Oceania* have the highest rate of tuberculosis incidence (SDG Indicator 3.3.2). Additionally, Oceania* has the second highest rate of malaria incidence after Africa (SDG Indicator 3.3.3). Lastly, as with all tropical regions neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases that affect some 880 million people in Asia and the Pacific.

SDG4 ON EDUCATION

Another priority SDG, particularly for the south, as parts of Central and Southern Asia lagging behind on this SDG. In Central and Southern Asia, 81% of children (241 million) were not proficient in reading, and 76% (228 million) lacked basic mathematical skills (SDG Indicator 4.1.1). In Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, the percentages also remain high at 31% and 28% respectively. According to SDG Indicator 4.2.2, Central Asia only has 55.6% of children participating in early childhood education. As with Africa and the Arab States, girls are more excluded from education that boys as for every 100 boys of primary school age out of school in 2017, 127 girls were denied the right to education in Central Asia. Nearly half the global population who are illiterate live in Southern Asia. Add to that another 10% for Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (SDG Indicator 4.6.1). Lastly, Central and Southern Asia are also lagging behind on SDG Indicator 4.a.1, proportion of schools with access to basic facilities.

SDG5 ON GENDER EQUALITY

This could be considered a priority for the southern and central regions of Asia. As previously indicated, there is no data in the report of its statistical annex by region on SDG Indicator 5.1.1 ‘Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non‑discrimination on the basis of sex’ though it could be interesting to include them at a later stage. The highest percentages for ever-partnered women and girls aged 15 to 49 years subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months, are in Oceania* (34.7% in 2017) and in Central and Southern Asia (23%) according to SDG Indicator 5.2.1. Child marriage has gone down significantly in Central and Southern Asia but remains very high nonetheless (SDG Indicator 5.3.1. Along with the Arab States, the proportion of women in parliament and in managerial positions in Central and Southern Asia are some of the lowest across the globe. Central and Southern Asia also has the lowest proportion of women aged 15-49 years who make their own decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care after Africa (48.7% in 2014, SDG Indicator 5.6.1 – though data coverage was limited to only three countries).

SDG6 ON WATER

Major challenges remain. Even though progress is being made, Central and – particularly – Southern Asia are lagging heavily behind on SDG Indicator 6.1.1, with only 60.4% of the population having access to safely managed drinking water services in 2017. Eastern and South-Eastern Asia are making the fastest progress on SDG Indicator 6.2.1 but in spite of this, the majority of the 673 million people that still practise open defecation are in Southern Asia. As mentioned previously, most countries with high levels of water stress are located in Northern Africa and Western Asia and in Central and Southern Asia, with Eastern and South-Eastern Asia also experiencing high levels of water stress (SDG Indicator 6.4.2). River pollution, as mentioned earlier, is worsening, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America (SDG Indicator 6.3.2). Central and Southern Asia and Oceania* also have a low degree of integrated water resources management implementation (37 and 37 respectively out of 100 in 2018, SDG Indicator 6.5.1). There are also very low levels of transboundary cooperation (SDG Indicator 6.5.2) and low participation from local communities in water and sanitation management (SDG Indicator 6.b.1)

SDG7 ON ENERGY

This SDG has mixed results. Oceania* is the sub-region with the second lowest number of population with access to electricity (63% in 2017 – up from 29% in 2000 – SDG Indicator 7.1.1). Renewable energy as a share of total energy remains low across the region with Oceania*, Southern Asia and South-Eastern Asia doing better than the average. Energy efficiency is another mixed bag. Eastern and South-Eastern Asia was the only sub-region to be above the target with an improvement rate of primary energy intensity of 3.4% between 2010 and 2016 while Oceania* was the only sub-region to decline (SDG Indicator 7.3.1).

SDG8 ON ECONOMIC GROWTH

Central and Southern Asia and Eastern and South Eastern Asia have had strong annual growth rate of real GDP per capita (SDG Indicator 8.1.1) and per capita (SDG Indicator 8.2.1), while Oceania is lagging behind and even saw a 1% decrease per capita in 2017, excluding Australia and New Zealand. Central and Southern Asia also has a high proportion of informal employment in non‑agriculture employment (76% in 2016, SDG Indicator 8.3.1). Eastern Asia and Australia and New Zealand have the highest domestic material consumption per capita (22.79 and 35.69 tonnes in 2017, SDG Indicator 8.4.2). Lastly, in Central and Southern Asia, 46% of young women were not engaged in either education, employment or training (NEET) compared to 10% of young men (SDG Indicator 8.6.1).

SDG9 ON INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

As with the previous SDG, Eastern Asia and South-Eastern Asia show good numbers with the highest increase in manufacturing value added share in GDP (26.5% in 2018, SDG Indicator 9.2.1) while Oceania was lagging behind with only 6.3%. Of concern is that Eastern Asia is responsible for nearly one third of total CO2 emissions from fuel combustion (10,881 millions of tonnes in 2016, SDG Indicator 9.4.1) – Europe and Northern America being responsible for another third of total. Expenditure on R&D is high in Eastern Asia and South-Eastern Asia and low in Central and Southern Asia (SDG Indicator 9.5.1). While all sub-regions apart from Eastern Asia were below the average, Southern Asia also has the second lowest number of researchers worldwide (222 per 1 million population) in 2016 according to SDG Indicator 9.5.2. The report states that medium-high and high-tech sectors account for 45% of the global manufacturing value added (2016), but the share is only 1.9% in Oceania and 7.7% in Central Asia (2016, SDG Indicator 9.b.1).

SDG10 ON INEQUALITIES

Not a lot of data is given per region in the report nor in the statistical annex, though it is stated that rich and poor countries alike can benefit from policies promoting equality and inclusivity. One point of note, however, is that Central and Southern Asia was one of the main drivers for a decline in the global labour share (SDG Indicator 10.4.1), as it decreased more than 5% between 2004 and 2017. Eastern, Western and Southern Asia all had the high resource flows (net disbursements) for development (SDG Indicator 10.b.1).

SDG11 ON SUSTAINABLE CITIES: This is another ‘priority’ SDG for the region. As indicated in the report, 370 million people in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia and 227 million people in Central and Southern Asia are living in slums (2018, SDG Indicator 11.1.1). In Oceania* only 21% of residents have convenient access to public transport, below the 53% global average and only slightly better than Africa (SDG Indicator 11.2.1). Despite no direct reference, SDG target 11.5 on disaster risk reduction with a special focus on the poor, interlinks with SDG targets 1.5 and 13.1. The latter two are referred to in the report and it is therefore worth mentioning this one as well – especially considering that South-Eastern Asia experiences frequent seismic activity, and particularly recollecting the massive damage caused by the tsunami in 2004 in South-Eastern Asia or the 2011 tsunami in Japan, among other disasters that have happened in the region. As for SDG Indicator 11.6.1, Oceania* only had 60.5% of its municipal solid waste collected in 2018. Central and Southern Asia was one of two regions with the largest increase in in particulate matter concentrations in the air. As mentioned before, more than 90% of air-pollution-related deaths occur in Asia and Africa.

SDG12 ON CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION

Domestic material consumption (DMC) is increasing worldwide. The increase is largest in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, from 17,356 tonnes in 2000 to 42,480 tonnes in 2017. This accounts for the lion’s share of the increase at the global level (SDG Indicator 12.2.2). Per capita, the numbers are also higher than the global average of 11 tonnes (Australia and New Zealand 35.69, Oceania 28.01 and Eastern Asia 22.79). Domestic material consumption per GDP – or the amount of material needed to produce the same amount of economic output – is highest in the entire Asia and Pacific region (excluding Australia and New Zealand) and Africa. Fossil-fuel pre-tax subsidies are highest in Central Asia (4.42% in 2015, SDG Indicator 12.c.1).

SDG13 ON CLIMATE CHANGE

This is another priority SDG, in particular with regard to Oceania* where a lot of the world’s small island developing States (SIDS) are located. SIDS are impacted more rising ocean levels and other consequences of climate change – such as weather-related disasters. The report stress that access to finance and the strengthening of resilience and adaptive capacity have to be much faster, particularly among LDCs and small island developing States.

SDG14 ON OCEANS

This could be considered a ‘priority’ SDG due to the large number of SIDS in the region. As mentioned before, ocean pollution remains a global problem but the challenge is most acute in some equatorial zones, especially in parts of Asia, Africa and Central America (SDG Indicator 14.1.1). Data on SDG Indicator 14.4.1 shows that the Southeast Pacific region had the second lowest percentage of sustainable fish stocks in 2015 (38.5%). Coverage of protected areas in relation to marine areas is also still below the target of 10% in 2018 in the Asia and Pacific region (SDG Indicator 14.5.1).

SDG15 ON LIFE ON LAND

Although Oceania* and South-Eastern Asia have a high Forest area as a proportion of total land area, the net forest area decreased with 0.36% between 2011 and 2015 in South-Eastern Asia (SDG Indicator 15.2.1). The report mentions that land degradation is bad in most regions (27.9% for Central and Southern Asia. 24.4% in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia and 35.5% in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in 2018, SDG Indicator 15.3.1) and that it is impacting the lives of over one billion people. The total forest area decreased from 31.1 to 30.7% between 2000 and 2015 but this loss of forests in some tropical regions is partly balanced out by an increase in forested land in many parts of Asia, as well as in Europe and Northern America.

SDG16 ON PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS

In Central and Southern Asia 62.5% of the overall prison population were unsentenced detainees in 2015-2017 (SDG Indicator 16.3.2). Bribery incidence is highest in Central and Southern Asia and in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (SDG Indicator 16.5.2). Central and Southern Asia also lags behind at 68% of children under 5 that are registered. Also of note is that the proportion of countries with independent National Human Rights Institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles is very low (28.6% in Central and Southern Asia and 8.3% in Oceania* in 2018, SDG Indicator 16.a.1).

SDG17 ON PARTNERSHIPS

Personal remittances as proportion of GDP is high for Central and Southern Asia (3.07%) and Oceania* (2.29% in 2017, SDG Indicator 17.3.2) although However, money transfer costs were some of the highest across many small islands in the Pacific. Internet broad speed subscription remain low in the same sub-regions (SDG Indicator 17.6.2). Central Asia and Oceania had the lowest share of global services exports in 2017 (SDG Indicator 17.11.1). The report also indicated that South-Eastern Asia had an import tariff rate of 1.7%, which indicates the region’s growing openness to international trade.

[1] Oceania marked with * from now on refers to Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand

Review of the SDGs in Arab States

By SalM on August 12, 2020 in RRING NEWS

Introduction

In line with objective 3 of the RRING project, the research is a first step to “align RRI to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to provide a global common denominator for advancement of RRI, and address Grand Challenges globally.”

This first step was mainly done through desktop research, relying on UN reports as well as voluntary national reviews (as submitted to the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) to determine what are the most important SDGs in each region (named ‘geography’ in this task) and as geographical regions use the 5 regions defined by the UN for its regional commissions, and its monitoring of the SDGs, while noting that every state is different and regional averages can be misleading, because the 5 global regions exhibit internal variety.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019

In July 2019, the High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) reviewed global progress on the last remaining set of SDGs. 142 countries have now presented their Voluntary National Reviews. All SDGs have now been highlighted at the HLPF. As mentioned above, this year in effect closes the first cycle of the 2030 Agenda implementation.

July also marked the launch of The Sustainable Development Report 2019, prepared by UN DESA’s Statistics Division with inputs from more than 50 international and regional organizations. It provides charts, infographics and maps on SDG progress, and presents an in-depth analysis of selected indicators. Additionally, the report highlights regional progress and analyses.

The report is accompanied by a comprehensive Statistical Annex and the Global SDG Indicator Database with country and regional data that can also be accessed interactively on the Sustainable Development Goal indicators website.

This data provides a clear overview per country and region of the progress that has so far been made on the SDGs, as well as the challenges that still remain. This allows us to select the data we need from selected countries and regions to determine if there are any trends. However, since these are UN documents, they can only consolidate the information provided by Member States, so as to reveal gaps (and call these gaps priorities). They do not reflect how each country or region is implementing the SDGs except in this broad sense of progress achieved on the basis of measurements taken (e.g. the quality of how the SDG targets are incorporated in national legislation would not be visible in the aggregated record, except by means of illustrations). There are nonetheless, broadly stated conclusions on gaps to be addressed, which may be called priorities, because all states are committed to meet all SDGs. These conclusions are backed by the most inclusive political process and documentation available, so it is considered a reliable source for identifying priorities.

According to the report, the two main challenges facing the world are climate change and inequalities among and within countries, corresponding to respectively SDG 13 ‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts ‘and SDG 10 ‘Reduce inequality within and among countries’. Though progress has been made, poverty remains an issue in many parts of the world and hunger has actually been increasing in recent years.

The overview per region below takes many direct excerpts from the UN SG’s report.

Arab States

This region is called Northern Africa and Western Asia in the report and has  SDG4 on education, SDG5 on gender equality, SDG6 on water, SDG7 on energy and SDG8 on work as its most important SDGs, and some others that may be challenging.

SDG1 ON POVERTY

There were no particular outliers among the countries included in this region, when examining in the current indicator data. The proportion employed population living under a poverty marker used for comparisons went from 1.6 to 3% between 2010 and 2018 which indicates caution is required (SDG Indicator 1.1.1). More people could also benefit from social protection coverage (SDG Indicator 1.3.1)

SDG2 ON HUNGER

10% of the population are still undernourished in the region (SDG Indicator 2.1.1). The number of children under 5 who are either underweight or overweight is typically higher in the countries of this region than in countries elsewhere (SDG Indicator 2.2.1).

SDG3 ON HEALTH

With 105 maternal deaths in 2015, the region is still below the target of less than 70 per 100,000 live births (SDG Indicator 3.1.1). The under 5 mortality rate for children also remains above the international average (SDG Indicator 3.2.1). Adolescent birth rate, traffic related deaths, mortality rate attributed to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases; mortality rate attributed to household and ambient air pollution are all worth mentioning. The prevalence of current tobacco use among persons aged 15 years is very high for men (37.4% in 2016, SDG Indicator 3.a.1)

SDG4 ON EDUCATION

The report highlighted several issues with regard to this SDG for the region. According to the report, the percentage of children and adolescents not achieving minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics, remains at 57 in 2015 (SDG Indicator 4.1.1). Although the situation has been improving since 2000, the participation rate in organized learning (one year before the official primary entry age) was the lowest for this region (52.2% in 2017, SDG Indicator 4.2.2). Girls still face barriers to education in the Arab States: For every 100 boys of primary school age out of school in 2017, 112 girls were denied the right to education in Northern Africa and Western Asia. Lastly, according to SDG Indicator 4.6.1, the proportion of global population who are illiterate, 15 years and older, 2016: 9% (only better than Africa and Asia).

SDG5 ON GENDER EQUALITY

Again, there is no data in the report of its statistical annex by region on SDG Indicator 5.1.1 ‘Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non‑discrimination on the basis of sex’ though it could be interesting to include them at a later stage. According to the statistic annex, 73.9% of girls aged 15-19 who had undergone female genital mutilation/cutting in Northern Africa, though it is important to note that the data only comes from two countries with a 65% population coverage (2018, SDG Indicator 5.3.2). Additionally, the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (SDG Indicator 5.5.1) and the proportion of women in managerial positions (SDG Indicator 5.5.2) are among the lowest globally – e.g. only 7.7% of women in managerial positions in Northern Africa.

SDG6 ON WATER

This could be considered a ‘priority’ SDG for the region as it is prone to drought and conflict, including over water resources. The first issue is that only 37.5% of the population are using safely managed sanitation services (2017, SDG Indicator 6.2.1). Most countries with high levels of water stress are located in Northern Africa and Western Asia and in Central and Southern Asia (SDG Indicator 6.4.2). This could lead to water scarcity which could in turn result in the displacement of an estimated 700 million people by 2030, according to the report. The percentage of countries by levels of transboundary cooperation is very low (SDG Indicator 6.5.2), even though there are many transboundary aquifers in the region.

SDG7 ON ENERGY

In terms of renewable energy as a share in the total energy consumption, the region has the lowest overall score (5.6% in 2016, SDG Indicator 7.2.1) and could therefore be seen as a priority. Energy efficiency – which is central to the global goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions – only improved by 1% in the Arab States between 2000 and 2016 (below target of 2.7%, SDG Indicator 7.3.1).

SDG8 ON ECONOMIC GROWTH

There are considerable issues with this SDG in the region. First of all, the annual growth rate of real GDP per capita (SDG Indicator 8.1.1) and per worker (SDG Indicator 8.2.1) has been decreased since 2000. Second, although the situation is slightly improving, the region still has the highest unemployment rate at 9.9% in 2018 (SDG Indicator 8.5.2). The data gets even worse when disaggregated by age or sex. The unemployment rate for women was over 8% higher than for men compared to 1% average globally. About one quarter of the region’s youth were not engaged in either education, employment or training (NEET) in 2018 (SDG Indicator 8.6.1). Again, the situation worsens when taking into account gender disparities (37.7% young women compared to 16.3 young men).

SDG9 ON INDUSTRY, INNOVATION

The region has a lower than average manufacturing value added share in GDP and manufacturing value added per capita (SDG Indicator 9.2.1). They also have a higher than average CO2 emission per unit of value added (SDG Indicator 9.4.1). The proportion of expenditure of GDP on research and development was only 0.77% in 2016 (SDG Indicator 9.5.1). The region is also below the global average of proportion of researchers in 2016 (SDG Indicator 9.5.2). Lastly, according to SDG Indicator 9.b.1, the Arab States were below the global average of proportion of medium and high-tech industry value added in total value added.

SDG10 ON INEQUALITIES

The region has the lowest labour share of GDP, comprising wages and social protection transfers, of any region (36.3% in 2017, SDG Indicator 10.4.1)

SDG11 ON SUSTAINABLE CITIES

Notes of interest concerning this SDG include the fact that 26% of the urban population are living in slums in 2018 (SDG Indicator 11.1.1) – on par with other developing regions but far higher than Europe and North America. Convenient access to public transport remains below the global average. Annual mean levels of fine particulate matter (e.g. PM2.5 and PM10) in cities (population weighted) are higher than average with 50 micrograms per cubic meter (SDG Indicator 11.6.2).

SDG12 ON CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION

The region has the second highest fossil-fuel pre-tax subsidies (consumption and production) as a proportion of total GDP (1.92% in 2015, SDG Indicator 12.c.1) although improvement has been made since 2013.

SDG 13 ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Not a lot of specific data is given on the region. Apart from it being a global ‘priority’, the region suffers from high levels of water stress (as mentioned under SDG6). This means it is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change water scarcity.

SDG14 ON OCEANS:

The region has some of the lowest average coverage of protected areas in relation to marine areas in 2018 (SDG Indicator 14.5.1)

SDG15 ON LIFE ON LAND

The region lost 0.07% of forest area between 2011 and 2015 (SDG Indicator 15.2.1). The region also has a low coverage by protected areas of important sites for mountain biodiversity (SDG Indicator 15.4.1) and a low Mountain Green Cover Index (SD Indicator 15.4.2).

SDG16 PEACE, JUSTICE, STRONG INSTITUTIONS

Incidence of bribery remains above average (SDG Indicator 16.5.2). Also of note is that the proportion of countries with independent National Human Rights Institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles is very low (29.2% in 2018, SDG Indicator 16.a.1)

SDG17 ON PARTNERSHIPS

The part of the region called Northern Africa has the single highest number for personal remittances (personal transfers and compensation of employees) received as a proportion of total GDP (5.13% in 2017, SDG Indicator 17.3.1). At 5.8%, the share of global services exports remains low (SDG Indicator 17.11.1).