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).

Review of the SDGs in Each Geographic Zone

By SalM on August 11, 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.

Case Study: Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa (hereafter referred to as Africa) is not on track to achieve the SDGs. of the region includes many least developed countries (LDCs). The region has some of lowest scores across all the SDGs, relative to other regions. According to the UN Secretary General’s report, Africa has gaps in reaching targets for almost all SDGs, particularly SDG1 on poverty, SDG2 on hunger, SDG3 on health, SDG4 on education, SDG5 on gender equality, SDG6 on water, SDG7 on energy and SDG8 on work. SDGs that were less mentioned are SDG10 on inequalities and SDG13 on climate change but these are considered global priorities. Africa is, however, better on track for SDG12 on consumption and production than other regions. Below is an account per SDG of the most striking findings.

SDG1 ON POVERTY

Underlining that the SDGs are universal, indivisible and interlinked, this SDG could be considered a ‘priority’ for Africa as it is the region most lagging behind in terms of progress. More than 42% of the population (413 million people) lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2015 (SDG Indicator 1.1.1), otherwise known as extreme poverty. The region also has the highest number of employed living in extreme poverty (38%). The region also has the lowest number for people that have at least one social protection benefit (12.9% in 2016, SDG Indicator 1.3.1). Climate-related disaster 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). Unless policy improves in Africa, the prediction is that extreme poverty will remain high in Africa by 2030.

SDG2 ON HUNGER

This SDG could also be considered a ‘priority’ as the situation has deteriorated in Africa instead of improved between 2014 and 2017. According to SDG Indicator 2.1.1, 23.2% of the population (237 million, up from 195 million) are undernourished. This could be the result of adverse weather conditions which affect food availability and prices, and prolonged armed conflicts that have terrorized the region. The region also has a high number of children under 5 years who are stunted (32.1% in 2018, SDG Indicator 2.2.1) although progress has been made. Another reason that this SDG is considered important is that Africa has high amount of small-scale food producers compared to Europe, whose income and productivity are systematically lower than of large-scale food producers (SDG Indicator 2.3.2). 2018 proved to be a difficult year for Africa as production shortfalls, currency depreciations and insecurity triggered high food prices in several countries.

SDG3 ON HEALTH

Another SDG that could be considered a ‘priority’ for several reasons. The first is SDG Indicator 3.1.1 which indicates that Africa has the highest maternal mortality rate (555/100,000 live births in 2015), or roughly two-thirds maternal deaths worldwide, and only 60% of births attended by skilled personnel. Without sustained investment that target will not be reached. Africa also the highest number of under-five mortality rate (75.9 per 1,000 live births in 2017, SDG Indicator 3.2.1) – half of all deaths worldwide. Although HIV incidence is decreasing in Africa, it is still below the target and remain the highest worldwide according to SDG Indicator 3.3.1 (1.25 per 1,000 uninfected population in 2017). Over 90% of the world’s malaria cases occur in Africa (216.9 per 1,000 population at risk in 2017 according to SDG Indicator 3.3.3) and the total number is rising. Africa is also second highest region after Central and Southern Asia in terms of population requiring interventions against neglected tropical diseases (SDG Indicator 3.3.5) although the situation is improving. Furthermore, Africa has the highest number of deaths related to traffic accident injuries (SDG Indicator 3.6.1); the highest adolescent fertility rate (101 births per 1,000 adolescent girls in 2018 according to SDG Indicator 3.7.2); the lowest universal health coverage (42% in 2015, SDG Indicator 3.8.1) and the highest mortality rate attributed to unsafe water, unsafe sanitation and lack of hygiene (48.2 per 100,000 population in 2016, SDG Indicator 3.9.2).

SDG4 ON EDUCATION

Africa is again lagging behind in this SDG and could therefore be considered a priority. The proficiency rates in reading and mathematics are lowest in Africa, where 88% of children (202 million) of primary and lower secondary school age were not proficient in reading, and 84% (193 million) were not proficient in mathematics in 2015 according to the report (SDG Indicator 4.1.1). To exacerbate the situation, girls are often excluded from education (121 to every 100 boys out of school – the second lowest number after Central Asia). Naturally this leads to Africa having the lowest adult literacy rates along with Southern Asia (SDG Indicator 4.6.1). Africa is also lagging behind in terms of having access to basic resources such as drinking water, electricity and computers – less than half of primary schools and slightly more than half of secondary schools (SDG Indicator 4.a.1). On top of that. Africa has the lowest percentage of trained teachers in pre-primary, primary and secondary education.

SDG5 ON GENDER EQUALITY

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 but there are several other topics that raise concern. SDG Indicator 5.3.1 ranks Africa highest for child marriage (11.8% of women aged 20-24 years who were married or in a union before age 15; and 37.2% of women aged 20-24 years who were married or in a union before age 18). SDG Indicator 5.3.2 notes that on average 24.5% of girls aged 15-19 have undergone female genital mutilation, nearly half of all 200 million worldwide in West Africa alone. Like most other regions, Africa still has high numbers 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 (SDG target 5.2) as well as low numbers of women in parliament and managerial positions (SDG target 5.5).

SDG6 ON WATER

Africa scores lowest of all the regions on two targets making it another priority. Africa has the lowest proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services (26.9% in 2017, SDG Indicator 6.1.1) and the lowest proportion of population using safely managed sanitation services (18.4% in 2017, SDG Indicator 6.2.1). Furthermore, the report states that most rivers in Africa, as well as other tropic regions, are more polluted now than in the 1990s (SDG Indicator 6.3.2). More work can be done on SDG Indicator 6.5.1 Indicator 6.5.1 ‘Degree of integrated water resources management implementation (0-100)’ where Africa scores only 40.

SDG7 ON ENERGY

There are critical issues here that need to be resolved in Africa, making it a ‘priority’, although there is also some good news as well. According to SDG Indicator 7.1.1, only 43.9% of the population have access to electricity in 2017 and an estimated 573 million people were still without. Indicator 7.1.2 has it that only 14% of the population had primary reliance on clean fuels and technology in 2017. Both indicators have the lowest numbers by far of any region. The good news is that the share of renewable energy of total energy consumption in Africa is actually the highest according to SDG Indicator 7.2.1 (69.5% in 2016). Energy efficiency – which is central to the global goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions – only improved by 1.8% in Africa between 2000 and 2016 (below target of 2.7%, SDG Indicator 7.3.1).

SDG8 ON ECONOMIC GROWTH

Real GDP grew by 4.8% annually in LDCs (2010–2017), but this is still less than the 7% SDG target. For individual people the situation is a lot worse as annual growth rate of real GDP per capita actually decreased by 0.3% in 2017 according to SDG Indicator 8.1.1 while the annual growth rate of real GDP per worker, was only 0.3% in 2018 (compared to 2.1% global average). Africa also has very high levels of informal employment (76.7% in 2016, SDG Indicator 8.3.1). The report also highlighted SDG Indicator 8.6.1 which shows that 25% of young women are not in education, employment or training compared to 16% of young men in 2018.

SDG9 ON INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

LDCs, of which most are in Africa, are lagging behind in terms of industrialization and need to scale up investment in scientific research and innovation if they are to meet the target by 2030. The manufacturing value added (MVA) per capita in was only 164.5 USD compared to 4,938 USD in Europe and Northern America (SDG Indicator 9.2.1). Target 9.5 is another issue of concern as Africa only invests 0.42% on GDP in R&D (2016, SDG Indicator 9.5.1) and only 91.5 per million inhabitants are researchers (2016, SDG Indicator 9.5.2) compared to 1,162 globally. Lastly, in Africa only 14.9% of total Manufacturing value added (MVA) came from higher-tech sectors in 2016 (SDG Indicator 9.b.1). In fact, the proportion of medium-high- and high-tech MVA in total MVA decreased between 2000 and 2016.

SDG10 ON INEQUALITIES

There is not a lot of data on SDG 10 indicators in the report. Apart from it being highlighted by the UN Secretary General as a major challenge, the reports indicated that LDCs continue to benefit from preferential trade status (SDG Indicator 10.a.1), Africa has the highest resource flows (net disbursements) for development (SDG Indicator 10.b.1) and has very high remittance costs as a proportion of the amount remitted (SDG Indicator 10.c.1). However, the reports also noted that only 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had data on income growth for the most recent period, pointing to the ongoing need for improved data collection and statistical capacity-building, especially in the poorest countries.

SDG11 ON SUSTAINABLE CITIES

This SDG again poses major challenges for the region. In Africa 238 million people live in slums (56% of urban population in 2018, SDG Indicator 11.1.1). Another issue is municipal waste collection. According to SDG Indicator 11.6.1, there was only 42.2% coverage in 2018. Air quality worsened between 2010 and 2016, and Africa saw a large increase in particulate matter concentrations (SDG Indicator 11.6.2). More than 90% of air-pollution-related deaths occur in Asia and Africa. Lastly, less than 20% of the African population has convenient access to public transport. 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.

SDG12 ON CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION

No particular mentions of Africa are made in the report nor in the statistical annex. SDG Indicator 12.2.2 does note that, in 2017, developing countries used about five times as many natural resources as developed countries to produce the same amount of economic output (also known as domestic material consumption per unit of GDP).

SDG13 ON CLIMATE CHANGE

This SDG is marked as the defining issue of our time and the greatest challenge to sustainable development. The fact that poor societies will be affected more makes Africa a particularly vulnerable region. In light of this many developing countries have started a process to formulate and implement national adaptation plans (NAPs) to reduce their vulnerability to climate change and to integrate climate change adaptation into national development planning. Additionally, the report notes that LDCs need to have access to finance and the strengthening of resilience and adaptive capacity at a much faster pace. In this sense, Africa is one the region to have already accessed the Green Climate Fund for NAPs.

SDG14 ON OCEANS

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). The rate of protection of marine key biodiversity areas (KBAs) is slowing down and LDCs and small island developing States in particular are lagging behind. Though Africa is on par with Asia and Latin America and therefore not an outlier (SDG Indicator 14.5.1).

SDG15 ON LIFE ON LAND

The report mentions that land degradation is bad in most regions (22.4% for Africa in 2018, SDG Indicator 15.3.1) and is impacting the lives of over one billion people. The total forest area decreased from 31.1 to 30.7% between 2000 and 2015, with most of it occurring in the tropics, especially in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Converting land for agriculture use is considered the main reason of this forest loss.

SDG16 ON PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS

This SDG could be considered a priority for Africa as well. Africa is one two regions with the highest levels of lethal violence. It has even increased from 25 to 33% of the global total between 2000 and 2017. Africa 14.8 victims of intentional homicide per 100,000 population in 2017 (SDG Indicator 16.1.1) – the second highest after Latin America and the Caribbean. The proportion of children aged 1-17 years who experienced any physical punishment and/or psychological aggression by caregivers in the past month (SDG Indicator 16.2.1) is also alarmingly high at 83.2% in 2018. Likewise, the proportion of women aged 18‑29 years who experienced sexual violence by age 18 (SDG Indicator 16.2.3) was highest at 6% in 2017. Unsentenced detainees (SDG Indicator 16.3.2) and bribery (SDG Indicator 16.5.2) are also causes for concern. Another major problem in Africa is that less than half of children under age 5 have a birth registration (SDG Indicator 16.9.1).

SDG17 ON PARTNERSHIPS

There are many targets and indicators in this SDG and some relate to Africa. The report states that official development aid (ODA) is the largest source of external financing for LDCs (with the majority of LDCs being in Africa). Nevertheless, in 2018, less aid went to LDCs and African countries, where it is needed most. Preliminary figures indicate that bilateral ODA to LDCs fell by 3% in real terms from 2017, and aid to Africa fell by 4%. In 2017 only 0.33 per 100 inhabitants had a broadband internet subscription (SDG Indicator 17.6.2) and only 21.8% of people were using the internet (SDG Indicator 17.8.1). Aid to Africa remained high in 2017 (SDG Indicator 17.9.1), though the Secretary General’s report mentions that it fell by 4% in 2018. Africa accounted for only 1.19% of global services exports in 2017 (SDG Indicator 17.11.1). In sub-Saharan Africa, only 23% of national statistical plan were fully funded in 2018 (SDG Indicator 17.18.3), compared to 94% in Europe and Northern America. Personal remittances accounted for 2.8% of GDP in 2017 (SDG Indicator 17.3.2).


This report was written and prepared by Carl Vannetelbosch

Join RRING Community

By SalM on July 24, 2020 in RRING NEWS

RRING Goals

Research Performing Organisations (RPO), Research Funding Organisations (RFO), Researchers and the industry representatives can be a part of a true community of practice to learn, share and apply. We can all work together as equals to shape the research and innovation ideas and visions.

RRING goals are to establish and cultivate country by country, a true community of practice to learn, share and apply our influence to achieve ever more responsibility and freedom in research and innovation.

This is a reason why we launched the RRING community. Our vision is to establish a welcoming community that stands for mutual learning and collaboration to promote and mobilize for responsibility and freedom in research and innovation in line with the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers (2017).

Seven Key Guiding Principles of RRING Community for 6 years

RRING will be guided with reference to a global set of norms and standards agreed by 195 governments at UN level in order to capture a common ‘language’ for what has previously been referred to as RRI, and RRING will thus promote this common and global normative content across a variety of applications.

RRING will evolve and grow toward becoming a recognizable global networking community made up of local (or national) chapters, each of which will adopt and must adhere to the mission statement and goals of RRING.

RRING will ever maintain an ambitious social mobilization and behavioural change agenda for embedding certain norms of research (responsibility and others found in the RSSR) in practices everywhere, which may include working with public authorities at any level (local, national, regional or international) and also stands for high-quality research in line with RRING’s vision. Communicating is the action at the heart of actions to mobilize and promote and will be guided by the RRING Communications Strategy.

Community and learning actions will be the initial focus, until the chapter will define and agree by a vote of more than 2/3 of its members to its first activities plan. Each chapter will be routinely and regularly invited to contribute its advice and views, either as a chapter or by individual members, to assessments of norms and standards of the RSSR.

Aside from their input to the assessments, RRING collaboration and advocacy actions will consist exclusively of clearly defined activities, voted on, and appearing in a chapter’s agreed activities plan, because they should be vetted among all members of a chapter so as to be context-sensitive (the RRING Communications Strategy and its advice is also useful here). They must fall within the social mobilization and behavioral change agenda, yet may be selectively focused on any of the topical areas of responsibility found in the RSSR.

Activities may involve and/or address any or all of the institutions of a research and innovation ecosystem (many of which are identified in the RSSR) including the general public, youth, students, the media, industry, or the public authorities that make and apply public policies, and may selectively address influencers that can be recruited as champions of the agenda. Each chapter will be responsible for its own growth, recruiting, and financial sustainability, and administration. A short chapter report to RRING as a whole will allow each chapter to communicate across all of RRING its completed activities and actions, and its activities plan or other important updates and news.

RRING as a whole, even as it grows to be a network of chapters, will require adherence to the recommendations of one overall RRING Communications Strategy, which is integrally included in the present strategy by this reference


Research and innovation ideas and visions come from everywhere. When we connect the potential of the whole world, we can address the biggest challenges of this century.

Join Us!

Global Survey on Familiarity with Sustainable Development Goals

By SalM on July 23, 2020 in RRING NEWS

Under the leadership of our partners from ICoRSA a global survey was launched. The survey was open from 1 October 2019 to 20 December 2019.

Variables covered demographic Information such as: Age; Gender; Nationality; Native Language; Level of Education & Subject of Schooling; Location of Schooling & Professional Career; Time in current position of career. Five RRING World Regions were included in the analysis (following UNESCO regions of the world): European and North American States; Latin-American and Caribbean States; Asian and Pacific States; African States; Arab States.

The survey resulted in 2198 responses with a completion rate of 70% or more; 539 responses with a completion rate of less than 70%. The average completion rate of the survey was 97%. Respondents on average took 33 minutes to complete the survey.


What are the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs)?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. The 17 SDGs are integrated—that is, they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Through the pledge to Leave No One Behind, countries have committed to fast-track progress for those furthest behind first. That is why the SDGs are designed to bring the world to several life-changing ‘zeros’, including zero poverty, hunger, AIDS and discrimination against women and girls.


Results of the survey

Respondents from India reported much stronger familiarity with the SDGs than the global average. Indian respondents were also much more positive in their attitudes about the utility, relevance and value of SDGs. This indicates that these results may be very possible a very good basis for future development of Responsible Research and Innovation and that these things could be valuable, useful, central, relevant and beneficial for the development of this idea.


How familiar are you with the SDGs?

n=2089
[African=187, Arab=155, Asia & Pac=156, Eur & N. Am=1316, Lat. Am & Car=200, India=75]

  • Overall lowest familiarity with the SDGs are in the US
  • Highest familiarity about the SDGs in India
  • 41% respondents from Latin America are not at all familiar to the SDGs

Views on SDGs

Only displayed if respondent was at least “somewhat familiar” with the SDGs


Only displayed if respondent was at least “somewhat familiar” with the SDGs

 

Find the full report here.

Global Survey on socially responsible research/innovation

By SalM on July 20, 2020 in RRING NEWS

Under the leadership of our partners from ICoRSA a global survey was launched. The survey was open from 1 October 2019 to 20 December 2019.

Variables covered demographic Information such as: Age; Gender; Nationality; Native Language; Level of Education & Subject of Schooling; Location of Schooling & Professional Career; Time in current position of career. Five RRING World Regions were included in the analysis (following UNESCO regions of the world): European and North American States; Latin-American and Caribbean States; Asian and Pacific States; African States; Arab States.

The survey resulted in 2198 responses with a completion rate of 70% or more; 539 responses with a completion rate of less than 70%. The average completion rate of the survey was 97%. Respondents on average took 33 minutes to complete the survey.


Results


Diverse & Inclusive: Diverse Range

‘It is important to involve individuals/organizations with a diverse range of perspectives and expertise when planning my research and innovation work.’

*Involve early a wide range of actors and publics in R&I practice, deliberation, and decision-making to yield more useful and higher quality knowledge. This strengths democracy and broadens sources of expertise, disciplines and perspectives

n=2194
[African=195, Arab=164, Asia & Pac=168, Eur & N. Am=1377, Lat. Am & Car=208, India=82]

  • Mostly similar distribution of agreement
  • India leading slightly with 55% strongly agreeing

All researchers, regardless of the region mostly strongly agree that “’It is important to involve individuals/organizations with a diverse range of perspectives and expertise when planning my research and innovation work.’ With the highest percentage for India comparing to other investigated regions.


Diverse & Inclusive: Gender


‘It is important to promote gender equality in my research and innovation work.’

*Involve early a wide range of actors and publics in R&I practice, deliberation, and decision-making to yield more useful and higher quality knowledge. This strengths democracy and broadens sources of expertise, disciplines and perspectives

n=2132
[African=192, Arab=159, Asia & Pac=161, Eur & N. Am=1333, Lat. Am & Car=204, India=83]

  • Mostly similar distribution of agreement
  • Latin America leading slightly with 60% strongly agreeing
  • Most neutral views in Europe and North America (15%)

Diverse & Inclusive: Ethnic Minorities


‘It is important to include ethnic minorities in my research and innovation work.’

*Involve early a wide range of actors and publics in R&I practice, deliberation, and decision-making to yield more useful and higher quality knowledge. This strengths democracy and broadens sources of expertise, disciplines and perspectives

n=2039
[African=188, Arab=142, Asia & Pac=154, Eur & N. Am=1278, Lat. Am & Car=197, India=80]

  • Overall sentiment leaning heavily on agreement
  • Latin America and the Caribbean slightly with 42% strongly agreeing
  • Comparatively high percentages indicating a neutral view (13%-22%)

Anticipative & Reflective: Societal Concerns


‘It is important to ensure that the way I do my research and innovation work does not cause concerns for society.’

*Envision impacts and reflect on the underlying assumptions, values, and purposes to better understand how R&I shapes the
future. This yields to valuable insights and increase our capacity to act on what we know.

n=2113
[African=196, Arab=155, Asia & Pac=163, Eur & N. Am=1314, Lat. Am & Car=205, India=80]

  • Overall sentiment leaning heavily on agreement
  • Africa has the highest combined “strongly agree” and “agree” percentage (83%)
  • Overall distribution of agreement is similar across regions

Open and Transparent: R&I Methods and Processes


‘It is important to make my research and innovation methods/processes open and transparent.’

*Communicate in a balanced, meaningful way methods, results,conclusions, and implications to enable public scrutiny anddialogue. This benefits the visibility and understanding of R&I.

n=2194
[African=192, Arab=166, Asia and Pac= 164, Eur and N. Am=1374, Lat. Am and Car=209, India=89]

  • Overall sentiment leaning heavily on agreement
  • Highest combined disagreement to the statement across African regions
  • Overall distribution of agreement is similar across regions

Open and Transparent: R&I Work and Accesibility


‘It is important to make the results of my research and innovations work accessible to as wide a public as possible’

*Communicate in a balanced, meaningful way methods, results,conclusions, and implications to enable public scrutiny anddialogue. This benefits the visibility and understanding of R&I.

n=2175
[African=192, Arab=164, Asia and Pac= 166, Eur and N. Am=1360, Lat. Am and Car=209, India=89]

  • Overall sentiment leaning heavily on agreement
  • Highest combined disagreement to the statement across African regions
  • Overall distribution of agreement is similar across regions

Open and Transparent: R&I Activity Availability


‘It is important to make data from my research and innovation activities freely available to the public.’ 

*Communicate in a balanced, meaningful way methods, results,conclusions, and implications to enable public scrutiny anddialogue. This benefits the visibility and understanding of R&I.

n=2113
[African=187, Arab=163, Asia and Pac= 162, Eur and N. Am=1319, Lat. Am and Car=204, India=78]

  • Overall sentiment leaning heavily on agreement
  • Highest combined disagreement to the statement across African regions
  • Overall distribution of agreement is very smilar across regions

Responsive & Adaptive: Societal Needs


‘Research and innovation should adress societal needs’

*Be able to modify modes of thought and behaviour, overarching organizational structures, in response to changing circumstances, knowledge, and perspectives. This aligns action with the needs expressed by

n=2224
[African=193, Arab=164, Asia and Pac= 171, Eur and N. Am=1400, Lat. Am and Car=210, India=86]

  • Overall sentiment leaning heavily on agreement
  • Highest combined disagreement to the statement across Latin American regions
  • India leading with 66% strongly agreeing

Results: Ethical Principles


‘Research and innovation should adress societal needs’

n=2047
[African=184, Arab=159, Asia and Pac= 156, Eur and N. Am=1274, Lat. Am and Car=197, India=77]

  • Overall sentiment leaning heavily on agreement
  • Highest combined dosagreement to the statement across Latin American regions
  • India leading with 66% strongly agreeing

Overall findings: Attitudes about socially responsible research/innovatiom


  • Uniformly high ‘in principle’ agreement to wide range of socially responsible research/innovation (RRI) conepts
  • Indicates general attitudionl support, although specific way this translates into practice varies dramatically

Professor Eric A. Jensen has a global reputation in social research and impact evaluation of public and stakeholder engagement with science. Jensen is currently Senior Research Fellow at ICoRSA (International Consortium of Research Staff Associations), working on the RRING (rring.eu) and GRRIP (grrip.eu) projects about responsible research and innovation.

Dr. Jensen’s track record includes over 100 publications- including peer-reviewed journal articles in Nature, Conservation Biology, Public Understanding of Science, and books and book chapters published by Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press, as well as high profile government-commissioned reports- and dozens of major projects on science communication, public engagement and responsible research and innovation. He has worked as an evaluation trainer, advisor and consultant for many government departments, agencies and public engagement institutions globally, such as Science Foundation Ireland, Science Gallery Dublin, the European Space Agency, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, CERN, Arts Council England, the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, Association of Science & Technology Centers and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Jensen’s PhD is in sociology from the University of Cambridge. His expertise spans themes relating to evidence-based science communication, public engagement, research impact and responsible research and innovation policies and practices.

For access to some of Dr Jensen’s publications see:
• https://warwick.academia.edu/EricJensen
• LinkedIn Profile

Dr. Eric Jensen
ICoRSA, e.jensen@icorsa.org
Senior Research Fellow and director of ICoRSA Policy Research Unit
rring.eu
grrip.eu
musica-project.eu

Download the report here

Workshop: The Recommendation on Science & Scientific Researchers & COVID-19

By SalM on July 10, 2020 in RRING NEWS

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to the need for science communications by public authorities. For this, the engagement of science communities to help public authorities fine-tune their messages and get the message right every time is critical. What mechanisms may help inform public authorities reliably about the latest in research while maintaining the autonomy of the researchers and quality research without undue pressure and unrealistic expectations? The Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers is a text that provides the global common standards, and it was unanimously adopted by 195 countries (including India) in 2017.

This workshop, co-convened by RRING project, UNESCO and PRIA on 9th July 2020, was aimed at providing the participants from India an opportunity to learn about the Recommendation and review the same in light of the recent pandemic experiences.

Listen to the whole workshop on the video below

Recommendations for the development of a competitive advantage based on RRI

By SalM on July 10, 2020 in RRING NEWS

As a part of the RRING activities, our team conducted research and provided the recommendation for the development of competitive advantage based on Responsible Research and Innovation.

The main purpose of this research is to explore and define the relationship between RRI and competitive advantage in different settings. RRI frameworks have traditionally been less oriented towards their application in competitive environments; hence they have been difficult to apply by actors who need to develop a competitive edge (such as industry players) or by policy-makers in socio-economic development. Hence, we aim to find out what are the main drivers and barriers, how RRI and competitive advantage play out in different environments, and to provide recommendations for different stakeholders to successfully build a competitive advantage based on RRI.

This study makes a significant contribution to existing research on RRI-like practices and competitive advantage and adds to the literature on business involvement in RRI that has been flourishing despite the tradition of overlooking RRI by actors in competitive environments. Moreover, it provides a set of practical recommendations for industry, policymakers, research performing organizations, research funding organizations, investors, civil society and NGOs and association bodies. These recommendations are oriented towards developing and sustaining a competitive advantage based on RRI-like practices by research and innovation actors, while supported by other stakeholders in the system. The advice is informed by the research study and proposes the need to tailor and adopt bottom-up approaches in the implementation of RRI-practices, integrating RRI-like logics and competitive advantage logics into organizational dynamic, and the need for collaboration among different actors, apart from recommendations particular to each stakeholder.

Industry (both SMEs and large enterprises) has been largely ignored in the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) literature; therefore, competitiveness considerations have not been well incorporated into many of the frameworks. Some of the tenets of RRI, such as transparency or mutual responsiveness, pose limitations in a business context because of the need to develop and protect a competitive advantage. The recommendations below aim to provide some guidelines about how to engage in RRI-like practices in a way that nurtures the competitive edge of the company

Qualitative and quantitative analysis of RRI impacts: Recommendations for industry

1.  Be responsive to context

While integrating RRI-like practices into your research and innovation process, it is important to adapt to and understand the contextual factors that are affecting it. This has implications both at the process and outcome levels.

When it comes to procedural dimensions it’s important to understand what are the values and societal concerns underlying the society in order to integrate them and to anticipate any possible issues that may be derived from the interaction of the research and innovation work.

From the outcome perspective, it is important to cater to local societies and to try to understand what that market needs. Outcomes of the #research and innovation processes need to be adapted to the local context in response to local values.

2. Participate in standards development

Carrying out participatory reflective processes in product or service development helps to build a competitive advantage, through the inclusion of diverse perspectives that increase the innovation outcome’s fit in the market.

It was observed that engaging in reflective processes to incorporate socio-ethical values in the #research & innovation process was often costly, in the case of participatory reflective processes that may lengthen the time to market and increase the chances of information leak.

One of the proposed solutions, which was particularly helpful for SMEs, was to engage in reflective processes with other stakeholders, including other businesses, as, in order to fully benefit from standards, it is important to participate in their development. By engaging and implementing these standards, companies might overcome the barriers to developing a competitive advantage that is derived from engaging in participatory reflective processes while benefiting from increased social acceptance and avoidance unanticipated consequences, as revealed in their participatory standard-setting process.

3. Participate in networks

Beyond standard development, which is directly related to the research and innovation work, participating in networks will also indirectly support the development of RRI-like practices. Opening research and innovation work might provide new ideas for product and market development; but besides that, engaging in networks might help to identify stakeholder needs, even if they are not directly involved in a given research and innovation process.

In addition, participation in a network might support the development of a grid of closer collaborators with whom to share sensitive information for more extensive exchange of ideas in research and innovation work

While having a fully open research and innovation process might not be possible in all cases because of the need to protect business secrets and information asymmetries participation in networks provides a good opportunity for two way communication with stakeholders whereby new information about local social values and concerns will be obtained it provides the setting for the company to disseminate and share results of their own research and innovation processes; hence enhancing engagement with the general public.

 

4. Apply both process and outcome approaches:

It is important to provide ethically acceptable, socially desirable and sustainable results, but in order to do so, procedural dimensions focused on mutual responsiveness will aid in the process.

In order to really benefit from open communication and addressing societal needs, it is also important to include stakeholders with opposing views during the research process, in order to fully capture those concerns in the outcomes

In order to address societal problems and to avoid societal concerns, it is necessary to engage in anticipatory, reflective and inclusive processes and be responsive to changes in the research and innovation process they might imply: In order to fully benefit from the direct link between outcome approaches and competitive advantage, process dimensions should not be ignored, but rather built-in in the innovation process early on.

It is important to provide ethically acceptable, socially desirable and sustainable results, but in order to do so, procedural dimensions focused on mutual responsiveness will aid in the process.

5. Do and tell

Reputational effects and obtaining a social license to operate were identified as major drivers of competitive advantage based on RRI-like practices; in fact, customer performance was the dimensions of competitive advantage most directly related to engagement in RRI practices.

However, in order to enjoy such increased performance, it is necessary to communicate with the customers and build a market sustained on brand recognition and reputational effects based on RRI. The efforts made through RRI-like practices may also be communicated through certifications or front-of-pack labels, which also account for customers’ trust.

The efforts made through RRI-like practices may also be communicated through certifications or front-of-pack labels, which also account for customers’ trust. In addition to the development of association bodies to share and promote efforts made at the domain level.

6. Engage and protect

Intellectual property protection was often cited as a barrier to developing a competitive advantage, despite the other side of the coin being increased efficiency of the innovation process and the ability to tap onto new markets. Intellectual property protection may be vital for the development of a competitive advantage, it is relevant to collaborate and engage with the whole spectrum of stakeholders, while protecting intellectual property.
Intellectual property may also be protected formally through the signing of non-disclosure agreements with stakeholders invited to reflect on the research and innovation process.

In this way, competitive advantage based on information asymmetries may be protected while still benefiting from inclusive engagement

7. Embed RRI-like practices into company strategies

In order to fully benefit from the implementation of RRI-practices, they should be built into the organizational strategy. Implementing ‘ornamental’ or merely formal RRI-like practices might mean an additional cost while not realizing the advantage derived from it. Hence, strategic RRI-like practices that are built into the company’s mission and value creation strategies are recommended to develop a competitive advantage.

A clear example of this was observed in the case of gender and diversity considerations. In general, in the survey, companies that engaged in such practices had a slightly lower financial performance. When examined qualitatively through the case studies, it shows that, on the one hand, many companies take an equality approach based on numerical parity, which may sometimes produce difficulties in finding qualified candidates in certain domains or add costs in compensation programmes. On the other hand, companies that had built-in diversity in research and innovation teams, found that they could strategize their work based on the embedded diversity; hence helping them to avoid societal concerns and unanticipated consequences, identify stakeholder needs better, and access new markets.

Summary of results

Five main drivers of competitive advantage through RRI-like practices were identified: avoiding noncompetitive regulation, increasing social acceptance, incorporating stakeholder needs and tapping into new markets, increasing the efficiency of the innovation process, and reputational effects. On the other hand, four barriers were identified: obstacles during the research and innovation process (such as lengthening the time-to-market), protecting intellectual property, lack of consumer awareness, and barriers derived from the institutional environment.

The survey revealed that, while there are some differences in terms of attitudes and engagement in RRI-like practices across regions, both procedural and outcome dimensions were relevant. However, the application of particular practices in exercising such dimensions showed more variations across regions, reflecting adaption to local environments. In relation to competitive advantage, outcome dimensions and open and transparent innovation processes showed a clear relationship with performance, in particular with customer performance. The reason for this might lie in the increased visibility of such practices to the consumer.

Two case studies were carried out focusing on the management of socio-ethical concerns through RRI-like practices and their relationship with a competitive advantage. The case on the bio-economy domain (on GMOs and gene-editing techniques), identified different responses depending on local regulations and the focus placed on the development of competitive advantages at the micro and macro levels, and showcased the importance of domain-specific considerations in RRI-like responses. The ICT case (focused on biometrics and deep learning) highlighted the importance of network approaches and second-order reflexivity, and the need to adapt RRI-like practices to local contexts to maximise their benefits for competitive advantage. Lastly, the analysis of the two cases concentrating on transversal issues (gender equality and diversity) made notable how strategic approaches to RRI and their proper integration in strategy showed an improved relation with competitive advantage.

Read the full report here.

The Recommendations on Science & COVID-19 RRING Virtual Workshop

By SalM on July 7, 2020 in COVID-19, RRING NEWS

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to the need for science communications by public authorities. For this, the engagement of science communities to help public authorities fine-tune their messages and get the message right every time is critical. What mechanisms may help inform public authorities reliably about the latest in research while maintaining the autonomy of the researchers and quality research without undue pressure and unrealistic expectations? Global standards may help in this regard. The Recommendations on Science and Scientific Researchers were unanimously adopted by 195 countries (including India) in 2017. Each national government is required to produce a report about its own standards and systems of science in light of these Recommendations by March 31, 2021. In this workshop, co-convened by RRING project (EU funded Responsible Research & innovation Networked Globally), UNESCO, and PRIA (Participatory Research in Asia), participants from India will learn about the Recommendations and have an opportunity to review the same in light of the recent pandemic experiences. In addition, we can explore what mechanisms exist for engaging the government in the preparation of such a Report. In a second, additionally, we will also discuss the ongoing UNESCO consultation on standards for Open Science.

Organised by Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) in collaboration with UNESCO
Date: 9th July 2020
Time: 16:00 p.m.-17:30 p.m. (IST)

About the Organiser

PRIA is a 38 years old civil society organization working for the issues of participation, democracy and governance. PRIA also jointly co-chairs the UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education Institutions. This Chair is co-directed by Dr. Budd L. Hall (University of Victoria, Canada) and Dr. Rajesh Tandon. PRIA is currently a partner to the Responsible Research and Innovation Networking Globally (RRING) Project which is EC funded and is trying to understand the manifestation of the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) framework globally.

Time

  • 16:00 p.m.-16:10 p.m. Opening Comments – Dr. Rajesh Tandon (Founder-President, PRIA)
  • 16:10 p.m.-16:25 p.m. Presentation on The Recommendations on Science & Scientific Researchers – Mr. Juan Pablo Ramirez-Miranda (Programme Specialist & Chief of Section – Social & Human Sciences, UNESCO New Delhi)
  • 16:25 p.m.- 16:55 p.m. Panel Discussion: COVID-19 & the need for Open Science (10 minutes for each speaker) Discussants:
    • Dr. Anand Krishnan (Professor, Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS)
    • Dr. Rashmi Rodrigues (Associate Professor, Dept. of Community Health, St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore)
    • Mr. Dinesh Sharma (Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow & Founding Managing Editor, India Science Wire)
  • 16:55 p.m. – 17:25 p.m. Q/A Session
  • 17:25 p.m. – 17:30 p.m. Closing comments – Dr. Rajesh Tandon