1. What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. Described by Ban Ki-moon as a "to-do list for planet and people", the goals were endorsed at the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2015 by heads of government from 193 Member States.

There are 17 global goals covering areas such as poverty, hunger, education, economic growth, climate, sustainability and more. These goals are underpinned by 169 global targets and 231 global indicators, which need be disaggregated (where appropriate) by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and geographic location.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for:

  • Providing data to the United Nations for global monitoring and reporting
  • Reporting (annually, timing to be determined) UK data used for global indicators
  • Identifying and assessing the quality of data sources (from Government and Non-Governmental Organisations) for filling any data gaps
  • Developing a mechanism for collecting, processing and disseminating SDGs data
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2. Latest news

March 2017

A provisional date of 9 May 2017 has been set for the launch of ONS’s consultation on sustainable development goals. The purpose of the consultation will be to seek feedback on our approach to the measurement and reporting of UK progress against the global indicators which underpin the sustainable development goals. ONS will not be consulting on national indicators. These will be included as part of Government work on Single Departmental Plans.

With the requirement for each country to report on over 240 indicators across the 17 goals, there is a significant challenge in how we source the data, how we report on UK progress in ways which are meaningful and reflect other initiatives such as measures of national well-being, and how we determine priorities for development. We need your help in shaping our approach to these tasks.

We look forward to maintaining an ongoing dialogue with all our stakeholders to ensure that our focus and priorities continue to reflect the changing world we live in and help to ensure that "no one is left behind".

November 2016

ONS has taken the decision to postpone the consultation on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) originally scheduled to launch on 29th November.

This consultation is an important element of the UK's work on the Sustainable Development Goals.  We also recognise that the Sustainable Development Goals are a very important agenda - and we want more time to consider fully all the material received from stakeholders.  This pause also affords us the opportunity to align the Sustainable Development Goals with other UK indicators of progress.  As such, ONS has taken the decision to delay the consultation exercise while we consider the full breadth of this information. 

During this period, we are committed to making the consultation as effective as possible - and to make the eventual list of Sustainable Development Goal indicators as valuable as possible.  We will be launching the consultation in due course, probably in the Spring.  We will give advance notice of the consultation launch in the usual way.

Apologies for any difficulties this may cause.

July 2016

On 25 July 2016 the Environmental Audit Committee launched an inquiry into the implementation of the SDGs in the UK with a particular focus on measuring performance. More information can be found on the UK Parliament website.

The UN Economic and Social Council's first report on 'Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals – Report of the Secretary-General' was published on 3 June 2016. More information can be found on the UN website.

The Statistical Annex for the UN Economic and Social Council's report on 'Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals – Supplementary Information' was published on 24 July 2016. More information can be found on the UN website.

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4. Want to know more?

  • Information about Sustainable Development Goals can be found on the United Nations website and the Global Goals website.

  • Information about the technical process of developing the indicator framework can be found on the [United Nations Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs)][3.

  • The International Development Committee's report on 'UK implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals' was published on 8 June 2016.  More information can be found on the UK Parliament website

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5. Contact us

ONS recognises the importance of working with all stakeholders, within and outside Government. We are keen to hear your views.

To contact the ONS Sustainable Development Goals team please email SustainableDevelopment@ons.gov.uk.

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