Response to Zeng et al. “Environmental destruction not avoided with the Sustainable Development Goals”

Screenshot of the SDSN working paper

The SDG Index team publishes today a Working Paper in response to an article published in Nature “Environmental destruction not avoided with the Sustainable Development Goals” (Zeng et al. 2020). That article seeks to “evaluate the ability of the SDGs to reflect actual progress towards biodiversity conservation.” To this end, the authors assess the correlation of countries’ performance on environmental metrics among the official global SDG indicators with performance on eleven “independent and well-established measures of environmental protection”.

The Working Paper describes the major issues related to the framing, method, and proposed policy implications of this work. The Working Paper emphasizes that the SDGs provide the right vision for addressing the challenges of our times, including the climate and biodiversity crises. Yet, the official list of SDG indicators developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators and validated by the United Nations Statistical Commission does have significant limitations. It should be complemented by non-official data and further efforts to strengthen statistical capacities to provide an accurate assessment of countries’ performance on the SDGs, especially the climate and biodiversity goals.

Read Working Paper (PDF)