This year, three Nordic countries, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, top the global SDG Index ranking, yet all three still face major challenges in achieving the SDGs. Due to several changes in indicators and some adjustments in the methodology, the results from the 2018 SDG Index and Dashboard are not comparable to the 2017 results. In particular, changes in country scores or rankings cannot be interpreted as SDG progress or regress since last year.
2018 SDG Index and Dashboards Report generates six additional findings:
Results from the novel survey on national SDG implementation mechanisms conducted by the SDSN and the Bertelsmann Stiftung show large variations among G20 countries in how the SDGs are embraced by the political leadership and translated into institutional mechanisms. Some countries have established dedicated coordination units, strategies and action plans, and accountability systems, while others lag behind on some or all of these dimensions. More data and analyses are needed to gauge the level of ambition and effectiveness of SDG strategies, tools, and processes.
For the first time, we are able to show that no country is on track to achieve all the goals by 2030. For example, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland top the 2018 SDG Index, but they need to significantly accelerate progress towards achieving some goals, including Goal 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and Goal 13 (Climate Action).
Most developing countries have experienced significant progress towards ending extreme poverty in all its forms, including income poverty, undernourishment, access to health and education services, and access to basic infrastructure. Achievement gaps are greatest towards universal completion of secondary education. Countries experiencing conflict have experienced some of the sharpest reversals, particularly towards achieving Goal 1 (No Poverty) and Goal 2 (No Hunger).
High-income countries obtain their lowest scores on Goal 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and Goal 14 (Life Below Water). While no trend data are available for Goal 12, the data for Goal 14 suggest that most of high-income countries have made no progress in recent years towards achieving the Goal. Trends on Goal 15 (Life on Land) are also insufficient. They show that further efforts are needed to protect the biodiversity and support sustainable production and consumption.
High-income countries generate significant environmental, economic, and security spillover effects that undermine other countries’ efforts to achieve the SDGs. Yet, there is high variation in spillovers among countries with a similar per capita income. This suggests that countries can reduce their negative spillover effects without reducing their per capita incomes. Inequalities in economic and social outcomes require better data.
Newly added indicators for OECD countries focusing on inequalities in economic, health, and education outcomes lower the SDG Index scores for some countries. This suggests significant shortfalls in ensuring that no one is left behind, which are hidden by aggregate data. Such disaggregated data are unavailable for most non-OECD countries, so greater investments are needed to fill these data gaps.