Centre on Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE)
Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets 2019
An Assessment of Where OECD Countries Stand
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set a broad and ambitious programme for the
world to achieve by 2030. With 17 Goals, underpinned by 169 Targets, the complex and
integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda presents national governments with huge challenges
for implementation. To assist countries, the OECD has developed a unique methodology
allowing comparison of progress across SDG goals and targets. Based on the UN Global
List of 244 indicators, this study evaluates the distance that OECD countries need
to travel to meet SDG targets for which data is currently available. This 2019 edition
of the study presents the latest results for OECD countries, both on average and individually,
as well as new exploratory approaches to assessing progress over time and transboundary
aspects of the SDGs. By providing a high-level overview of countries’ strengths and
weaknesses in performance across the SDGs, this study aims to support member countries
in navigating the SDGs and in setting their own priorities for action within the broad
How far OECD countries are from achieving selected SDG targets?
Data coverage is uneven across SDG goals The report covers 132 of the 244 indicators on the UN Global SDG Indicator List for OECD countries. Data coverage is uneven across the 17 goals. While over 90% of the targets are covered by at least one indicator for SDG3 Health, SDG9 Infrastructure and SDG4 Education, only 30% of targets are covered for SDG14 Oceans and SDG12 Sustainable Production. Limited data coverage means that results could change dramatically when these data gaps are filled.
Share of the 2030 Agenda’s targets covered in this Study by at least one indicator, by goal Percentage, all OECD countries
Progressing towards or moving away from SDG targets As well as assessing the distances from the 2030 targets, this report also looks at the direction of change over time. OECD countries have been making progress on some targets, such as smoking rates, share of renewable energy, energy intensity, and material productivity (targets 3.a, 7.2, 7.3 and 12.2). However, over one-third of OECD countries have been moving away from targets in other areas, such as vaccination coverage, GDP and GDP productivity growth rates and unemployment (targets 3.b, 8.1, 8.2 and 8.5).
Average number of OECD countries by types of trends, by goals
Relative poverty remains a challenge Although extreme poverty (target 1.1) is rare in OECD countries, relative poverty (target 1.2) remains a challenge. With 14% of the population in OECD countries still below the poverty line (defined as 50% of median income), and poverty rates rising over the past 30 years, OECD countries will have to make considerable efforts to reach the challenging goal of halving relative poverty rates by 2030.