5. Peace and Partnerships

The 2030 Agenda is a call to all countries to take action for a better and more sustainable future. At its core is a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental sphere. Since the adoption of the sustainable development agenda in 2015, its scope has often been characterised by five broad themes, i.e. the “5Ps” (UN, 2015[1]): People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships.1 While the People, Planet and Prosperity themes were underpinned by five goals each, the Peace and Partnerships themes are each represented by a single goal: “Peace” focuses on targets related to peace, justice and strong institutions (Goal 16), which aim at promoting peaceful and inclusive societies; “Partnerships” focuses on the means to implement and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development (Goal 17). Given the large number of targets, this last goal is broken down into five “sub-goals” on: improving countries’ financial resources; fostering the use of information and communication technologies; enhancing international support for capacity-building; promoting a “universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system”; and a last one dealing with a range of more systemic issues, such as policy and institutional coherence, multi-stakeholder partnerships, and data and monitoring issues.

Even before the pandemic hit, OECD countries were not on track to achieve the targets of the “Peace” and “Partnerships’” Goals. Figure 5.1 shows that in 2015, OECD countries were on average2 closest to reaching targets for the goal on Partnerships for the Goals (Goal 17), and furthest from achieving the Institution-related targets (Goal 16), and they are likely to be making gradual progress on Goal 17, whereas there is much more uncertainty on Goal 16. Projecting current trends up to 2030 suggests nonetheless that, in the absence of additional measures, OECD countries on average may not be able to reach either of the two goals. The chapter dives into the details of the underlying targets to provide a more exhaustive picture of where OECD countries stand on the various targets of Goals 16 and 17.

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed OECD governments and institutions to severe stress (see Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Goal 16). Many governments have faced gaps and/or overlaps between the roles of different institutions and competing priorities (OECD, 2020[4]). Moreover, even when government institutions were able to cope with the major shock of COVID-19, they have often operated with lower standards of consultation, transparency, oversight or control of their processes. Beyond institutions, the pandemic has also put all sources of financing under pressure. The “scissors effect” of SDG financing (i.e. increasing needs and declining resources) has been magnified by the need to unlock the necessary financial resources, share technologies and create national capacities – as required by Goal 17 – to respond to the pandemic (see Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Goal 17 and Systemic issues section for further details).

Goal 16 aims at “promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. First, it calls on countries to reduce and prevent violence. On this front, with a few exceptions, most OECD countries report rather low rates of homicides, assaults and victimisation. However, looking at measures of feelings of safety rather than victimisation or homicide rates nuances this observation. In 2020, around one-quarter of citizens of OECD countries did not feel safe when walking alone at night in the area where they lived. Beyond violence, Goal 16 also aims at promoting the rule of law and fostering more accountable and more transparent institutions. Preliminary evidence suggests that many OECD countries still have a long road to travel to reach these targets, even if the currently available data do not allow a comprehensive assessment for all the targets.

The COVID-19 crisis has been an extreme stress test for government and institutions in all OECD countries. Countries have demonstrated some remarkable resilience. However, while institutions have been able to cope with the major shock of COVID-19, early evidence also suggests that governments and institutions have operated with lower standards of consultation, transparency, oversight and/or control of their operations (OECD, 2021[5]). As detailed below, the COVID-19 crisis also affected all other aspects of Goal 16, including violent crime, corruption and bribery, and discrimination.

This report uses data from the SDG Global Database together with OECD sources. Yet, the starting point always remains the global indicator framework, curated by the IAEG-SDGs. Table 5.1 shows that data allows the monitoring of 8 of 12 targets underpinning Goal 16. For this goal, 5 indicators sourced from the OECD complement the SDG Global database. In some cases (Indicators 16.1.1 and 16.1.4), they align with the global indicator framework. Yet, drawing from OECD databases provides more timely and longer time series3 and also helps meet higher statistical standards.4 In other cases, relying on OECD data sources provides monitoring indicators and targets for which no comparable data are currently available (Indicators 16.3.3, 16.6.2). It can also complement the measurement when targets are multifaceted (Indicator 16.7.1). On top of indicators listed in the table, the database includes 1 extra data series that is considered to be mainly informative (number of detected victims of human trafficking) in the context of Goal 16 (details and data for all indicators are available at https://www.oecd.org/wise/the-short-and-winding-road-to-2030-data-chapter-5-peace-and-partnerships.xlsx).

Acknowledging that “there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development(UN, 2015[1]), the first target of Goal 16 aims at “reducing all forms of violence and related death rates” (Target 16.1). Overall, aggregating results across all indicators pertaining to this goal suggests that, over the past two decades, violence has been declining in three out of four OECD countries (Figure 5.5), though it remains an issue in some: violence rates are the highest in Latin America and the United States, and the lowest in Nordic countries. At the global level, performance on this target is measured by four SDG indicators: the number of victims of intentional homicide per 100 000 population (Indicator 16.1.1); the number of conflict-related deaths per 100 000 population (Indicator 16.1.2); the proportion of population subjected to physical, psychological and/or sexual violence in the previous 12 months (Indicator 16.1.3); and the proportion of population that feel safe walking alone around the area where they live (Indicator 16.1.4). However, due to data limitations, conflict-related deaths are not reported in this chapter.

With a few exceptions, the prevalence of homicides and assaults is low in most OECD countries and has tended to decrease in recent years. The first indicator underpinning Target 16.1 refers to the number of victims of homicides, as reported to the authorities; these data are complemented in this report by OECD data on deaths from assaults.5 While the ideal target level to be attained would be zero deaths, this has been operationalised here at 3 per 100 000 population to allow for measurement errors. Overall, the two measures provide very similar results,6 but death from assault offers a broader country coverage and allows a better comparability over time and among countries. Both measures show that in 2018 (or in the latest available year), a vast majority of OECD countries (34) were close to the target (i.e. rates are below 5.5 per 100 000 population), and the homicide rate was around 2.5 per 100 000 population. However, a few OECD countries significantly exceed these rates. In the United States and Costa Rica, for example, the rate is more than twice the average level, while it is more than eight times higher in Colombia and Mexico. Since 2000, the prevalence of both death from assault and homicide has fallen in virtually all OECD countries. The only notable exceptions are Mexico and Costa Rica, where recent progress on both indicators reversed recently.

While the paucity of data limits the assessment of victimisation, most OECD countries report low rates. The indicator 16.1.3 proposed by the IAEG-SDGs aims at measuring the proportion of population subjected to physical, psychological and/or sexual violence over the previous year, based on data collected through sample surveys. Differences in victimisation surveys across countries imply that available data series capture only the proportion of population that experienced physical violence and robbery, and not psychological and sexual violence. Even when data are available for only one of the two events, they cover only around half of OECD countries (and only 16 OECD countries report data for both). Despite these limitations, these data show that, in 12 out of 16 OECD countries where both data series are available, countries are at a short distance to the target (i.e. physical victimisation rates are below 4% and the robbery victimisation rate is below 5%). When considering all OECD countries with at least one available data point, Mexico and Costa Rica are the only countries reporting a large distance to target for at least one data series (i.e. the physical victimisation rate is greater than 6% and the robbery victimisation rate is greater than 9%).

Focusing on the feeling of safety rather than victimisation suggests a less rosy picture of the prevalence of violence in OECD countries. The last indicator considered by the IAEG-SDGs to assess violence focuses on people’s self-reported feelings of safety rather than on “objective measures”. It is measured by the share of population that feel safe when walking alone around the area they live. While, ideally, everyone should feel safe in the area they live, the target level for this indicator has been set at 97% of the population to allow for measurement errors. In 2020, Norway was the only country where more than 91% of people felt safe when walking alone at night where they live, and it is thus at a short distance from the target (Figure 5.2). Conversely, 22 OECD countries still have a very long road to travel to meet this target (i.e. the feeling of safety is below 78%), most notably Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica – where more than one in two adults do not feel safe when walking alone at night in the area they live. Feelings of safety have been on an upward trend in 27 OECD countries, but they have declined in 11 (including in some of the countries where rates are the lowest).

In addition to “reducing all forms of violence and related death rates”, Goal 16 includes a target focusing on child violence. Target 16.2 calls on countries to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children”. The IAEG-SDGs proposed three indicators to track Target 16.2: i) the proportion of children aged 1-17 years who experienced any physical punishment and/or psychological aggression by caregivers in the past month; ii) the number of victims of human trafficking per 100 000 population; and iii) the proportion of young women and men aged 18-29 years who experienced sexual violence by age 18. Only one of these indicators, namely detected victims of human trafficking, is available. While the ideal target level would be zero victim of human trafficking, this has been operationalised here at 3 per 100 000 population to allow for measurement errors. The available data show that only 3 of 35 OECD countries with available data (Hungary, Norway and the Netherlands) report rates higher than 3 per 100 000 population. Yet it should be stressed that this is only a partial measure of human trafficking, as it excludes victims not detected by the authorities. While information on detected victims can provide valuable information, it does not allow monitoring the overall level of human trafficking, and it should be interpreted with caution, as its level and trend may be influenced by multiple factors such as law enforcement practices, legislation or victims’ attitudes.

While the assessment is hampered by missing data, the available data suggest that a majority of OECD countries (28 of 38) still have a long road to travel in promoting the rule of law, encapsulated in Target 16.3. Beyond ending violence, Goal 16 aims at “promoting the rule of law… and ensuring equal access to justice” (Target 16.3). The concepts of both the rule of law and access to justice are multidimensional, and more than one indicator is required to cover their main elements. Victim’s access to criminal justice is measured, according to the global indicator framework, by the proportion of people who were victims of violence in the previous 12 months and reported their victimisation to competent authorities (Indicator 16.3.1), while access to civil justice is monitored by the proportion of the population who have experienced a dispute in the past two years and who accessed a formal or informal dispute resolution mechanism (Indicator 16.3.3). In addition, the efficiency of the justice system is monitored through administrative data on the number of unsentenced detainees as a proportion of the overall prison population (Indicator 16.3.2).

Every victim should feel confident enough to report a crime to competent authorities (Indicator 16.3.1). The available data suggest that this is not the case in any OECD country. While in some countries the lack of reporting may reflect the minor nature of the offence, in others it may result from a lack of trust and confidence in the ability of the police or other authorities to provide effective redress. Finally, in some countries objective and subjective difficulties in gaining access to the authorities could negatively influence the reporting behaviour of crime victims. Target 16.3 explicitly aims at “ensuring equal access to justice for all”. Therefore, 100% of victims of crime in the previous 12 months should be able to report to competent authorities. Despite this, the target has been operationalised at 97% to allow for possible measurement errors. Based on available data, no OECD country will come close to achieving the target by 2030. Denmark is the country that is closest to target, with 77% of victims reporting robbery to competent authorities, but it cannot be considered to be close to the target either.7 Fourteen of the 22 OECD countries with available data show a reporting rate below 50%, with rates below 20% in Estonia and Mexico.

The available data on the efficiency of the justice system show a great diversity of outcomes among OECD countries. The efficiency of the justice system is measured in the global indicator framework through the share of unsentenced detainees as a proportion of the overall prison population (Indicator 16.3.2).8 The 2030 Agenda commits countries only to decrease this share, without providing any numerical value to be reached. Beyond exceptional cases, pre-sentence detention is unnecessary, diverts criminal justice system resources and imposes financial and physical burdens on the accused. In this context, the target to be reached by 2030 is set in this report at the level prevailing among the three OECD countries with the lowest share of unsentenced detainees in 2015 – i.e. 11% of the overall prison population. Based on this target, only eight OECD countries (Lithuania, Portugal, Poland, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Japan, Spain and the Slovak Republic) are at a short distance to the target (unsentenced detainees stands below 16% of the overall prison population). Conversely, 17 OECD countries are far from target, with more than one-quarter of the prison population being unsentenced, with this rate even exceeding one-third in Mexico, Belgium, Korea, Canada, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Across 27 OECD countries, the share of unsentenced detainees has been stable or even increasing in recent years.

While the available data do not allow a full analysis of access to civil justice, the existing partial evidence is not encouraging. In 2020, the IAEG-SDGs revised the global indicator framework and added a third indicator to gauge access to civil justice (Indicator 16.3.3). While comparable data to compute this indicator are not available yet, the present report includes a composite measure – ranging from 0 (worst possible outcome) to 1 (best possible outcome) – developed by the World Justice Project to monitor civil justice.9 Based on the distribution of outcomes across all OECD countries in 2015, distances are deemed to be short when the index is greater than 0.90 and long when the Index is lower than 0.80. Figure 5.3 shows that in 2020, while no OECD country could be considered as being at a short distance to the target, seven (Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Finland and Estonia) can be considered to be at a medium distance. Conversely, with scores below 0.50, distances are largest in Colombia, Hungary, Turkey and Mexico. Since 2013, 40% of OECD countries for which World Justice Project data are available have followed a positive trend. Nevertheless, progress has been rather small and nowhere would current trends allow to reach the target level by 2030.

Global monitoring of Target 16.4 (“significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime”) relies on a measure of illicit financial flows (both inwards and outwards) and on the proportion of seized, found or surrendered arms with an illicit origin. Unfortunately, the SDG Global Database does not include data to properly monitor this target, and no other OECD data are suitable for that use.

In general, corruption appears to be low in most OECD countries, yet the bribery incidence is significant in five of them. Target 16.5 aims at “substantially reducing corruption” and is monitored through data on the proportion of persons and businesses who report paying a bribe to a public official or were asked for a bribe by those public officials during the previous 12 months. So far, the SDG Global Database includes only data on bribery for business (i.e. the share of firms experiencing at least one bribe payment request, sourced from the World Bank Enterprise Surveys). While the 2030 Agenda does not spell out numerical targets, an ideal target would focus on the eradication of corruption or bribery. Yet in this report, this target is set at 3% of firms to allow for measurement error. While available data barely cover half of OECD countries, it appears that business reporting of bribery is low (below 5%) in most OECD countries (15 out of 20); these countries can thus be considered as close to target. Only five OECD countries exceed this rate, with rates ranging between 5% and 10% in Greece, Colombia and Costa Rica to 10% or more in Italy and Mexico.10

While global data to monitor the accountability and transparency of public institutions are not yet available, proxy measures point to a very diverse picture in terms of both levels and trends. Target 16.6 calls on countries to “develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels”. The UN global monitoring focuses on two indicators : i) primary government expenditures as a proportion of original approved budget, and ii) the proportion of population satisfied with their last experience of public services. Unfortunately, none of those measures could be included in this report. Data points on government expenditures as a proportion of approved budget are available for only 16 OECD countries, while data on people’s satisfaction of public services are not available on a comparable basis across OECD countries.11 Yet some (limited) understanding of the issue at stake can be provided by Gallup World Poll data on people’s confidence in the judicial system. Although, ideally, the target should be set at 100% of the population having confidence in the judicial system, the target has, in reality, been set at 97% of the population to allow for possible measurement errors. Overall, in 2020, Norway is the only OECD country to be at a short distance to the target (with more than 88% of the population trusting the judicial system). With shares ranging from 70% to 88%, eight OECD countries (Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Switzerland and Denmark) are at a medium distance from target. The vast majority of OECD countries are still far from target. Over the past 18 years, half of all OECD countries had been making some progress in this indicator, while the other half witnessed lower confidence in the judiciary. Distances are deemed to be furthest in Chile, the Slovak Republic, Korea and Colombia, where fewer than one resident in three reports having confidence in the judicial system.

Despite some progress, there is still much room to promote inclusion and diversity in the public workforce and to support the representation of women and young people. Target 16.7 (“Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels”) focuses on the diversity and representativeness of national and local institutions. The IAEG-SDGs proposed two indicators to measure this target at global level. The first compares the distribution of positions in national and local institutions to the distribution of the population in each country, based on a number of demographic characteristics (including sex, age and disability status). Yet available data in the SDG Global Database refer only to gender (the gender ratio for members of national parliaments) and age (the ratio of members under age 45 in parliament). While no OECD country has reached age and gender parity based on these indicators, five of them can be considered as being close (i.e. Sweden, Finland, Norway, New Zealand and Belgium). Conversely, 14 OECD countries are considered as being far from target, with Slovenia, Hungary, Turkey, Japan and Korea being the furthest away. This report also includes a pilot index of diversity developed by the OECD as an additional measure (OECD, 2021[5]). This indicator captures the effort deployed by countries to develop a more diverse central government workforce.12 As this indicator ranges from 0 (the worst possible outcome) to 1 (the best possible outcome), the target has been set at 0.97 to allow for some measurement error. Evidence from this indicator suggests that the United Kingdom is the only country that could be considered as being close to target, with a score above 0.75 (Figure 5.4). The outcomes vary significantly among other countries, with Poland, Japan, Luxembourg, Turkey, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic and Denmark being furthest from target (with scores below 0.40).

Targets 16.8 aims to strengthen “the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance”. It is monitored by the proportion of members and voting rights of developing countries in different international organisations. While this issue is key for the good functioning of international co-operation, the indicator is not relevant to judge OECD countries’ performance.

Virtually all OECD countries provide a legal identity for all their citizens. Everyone has the right to be recognised as a person before the law, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Article 6) (UN General Assembly, 1948[10]). Target 16.9 calls on countries to provide “legal identity for all”. While legal identity is defined as a credential, such as a birth certificate, identity card or digital identity credential that is recognised as proof of legal identity under national law, Target 16.9 is measured by the proportion of children under five years of age whose births have been registered with a civil authority (as a share of all children under age 5). The available data show that besides Colombia (96.8% of kids under age five had been registered) and Mexico (95%), all OECD countries already reach universal coverage (operationalised at 97%) based on this indicator.

At the global level, Target 16.10, which commits countries to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements”, is monitored in the global indicator framework by two indicators. The first captures the number of verified cases of killing, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention or torture of journalists, associated media personnel, trade unionists and human rights advocates in the previous 12 months. So far, the SDG Global Database includes data for only seven world regions and at the world-level, which is insufficient to be used for this report. The second indicator is a binary measure (“yes” or “no”) that indicates whether countries have adopted and implemented constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information. All OECD countries have such guarantees in place.

Target 16.a calls on countries to “strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international co-operation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime”. Overall, the IAEG-SDGs suggests monitoring this target with an index that measures a country’s efforts to set up independent National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in compliance with the Paris Principles.13 While 24 OECD countries comply with the Paris Principles, five are at a medium distance to target (i.e. NHRIs are not fully compliant with the Paris Principles) while nine are far from target (i.e. NHRIs are not compliant or have not applied for accreditation).

The available data do not allow properly tracking Target 16.b on discrimination (“promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development”). According to the global indicator framework, this target should be monitored through an indicator on the “proportion of population reporting having personally felt discriminated against or harassed in the previous 12 months on the basis of a ground of discrimination prohibited under international human rights law”, yet existing data from national surveys and compiled by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights do not cover enough OECD countries on a comparable basis.

Overall, Figure 5.5 shows that, despite some progress, few OECD countries will be able to meet even a handful of SDG targets for Goal 16. The available data for targets relating to safety and violence (Targets 16.1 and 16.2) and more broadly targets relating to social capital14 (Targets 16.3 to 16.7) suggest that OECD countries are making progress (Figure 5.5, panel B). Yet the long distances to be travelled and the slow pace of progress suggest that, in the absence of additional measures, most OECD countries may not be able to reach their targets by 2030. Beyond measures of safety or social capital, Goal 16 also includes targets relating to basic human rights, such as having a legal identify (Target 16.9) or having access to information (Target 16.10), where virtually all OECD countries already meet their commitments.

Data from a limited number of countries suggest that the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on violent crime has been rather limited. Most countries will not publish comparable crime statistics until after the publication of this report, making it difficult to get an overall picture of the pandemic’s impact on various crimes. However, evidence suggests that, with fewer people on the streets, there has been a decline in some types of criminal activities typically carried out in groups, outdoor crowds or otherwise empty homes (OECD, 2021[11]). Yet lockdowns, isolation, school closures and job losses during COVID-19 have also created fertile conditions for domestic abuse, and intimate partner violence against women and girls worldwide has increased since the pandemic outbreak (OECD, 2020[12]). The available data show very diverse trends (Table 5.2). In the United States, for instance, the FBI recorded a 14.8% increase in the number of murders and non-negligent manslaughter offenses during the lockdown (FBI, 2020[13]). Assault victimisations in New Zealand in 2020 also rose by 12.4% relative to the previous 12 months (New Zealand Police, 2021[14]). Mexico, meanwhile, recorded 3 000 homicides in March 2020, one of the highest monthly totals on record (UNODC, 2020[15]). On the other hand, homicide rates in early 2020 in European countries did not change much compared to pre-pandemic levels (or even decreased in the short term), and in Colombia the number of victims of homicides declined by one-third in April 2020 compared with the average level recorded for that month over the period 2015-2019 (though the number of victims had returned to the pre-COVID-19 baseline by June 2020) (UNODC, 2020[15]).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many legal advice services that helped users to more effectively navigate the court system were affected by the lockdown measures. Providers of such services were not always equipped to operate virtually during the pandemic. However, many countries did manage the switch to digital means: Canada, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others, carried out fully virtual court trials. In Mexico, mediators used videoconferencing software to conduct employment and civil mediations (OECD, 2021[5]). Therefore, while the pandemic’s impact on access to justice (Target 16.3) may be largely negative in the short run, many OECD countries have been able to mitigate its effects.

The pandemic can also create environments that lead to higher corruption and bribery (OECD, 2020[16]). Some corruption risks arise immediately because of actions taken to mitigate the health and economic crisis: the financial stimulus and economic recovery measures taken by governments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic may also have heightened the risk of corruption and criminal offences (Csonka and Salazar, 2021[17]). Other risks may materialise only in the medium to long term as the consequences and impact of COVID-19 emergency measures take greater effect. Identifying and addressing corruption risks will be crucial to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on Target 16.5.

Emerging evidence suggests that many governments have operated with lower standards of consultation, transparency, oversight or control in their processes during COVID-19. Governments have mobilised extra resources and reduced spare capacity to provide the raw inputs (e.g. infrastructure, workforces or public funds) for their COVID-19 response. Government processes have then turned these inputs into the outputs citizens have needed, often at much greater speed and scale. Early evidence suggests that governments have innovated, changing their processes rapidly to deliver COVID-19 responses (OECD, 2021[5]). However, in several cases, the evidence also suggests that governments have lowered their operating standards to improve the scale and speed of their responses (the impact of the pandemic on Target 16.6 and 16.7 is thus categorised as negative in Table 5.2). While some relaxation of standards is inevitable during an emergency response, it is not always clear that this has been limited in time and scope, or planned in advance, nor that governments have clear plans for a return to normal, and/or are applying ex post controls such as evaluations (OECD, 2021[5]).

While it is difficult to have a sense of change in perceptions of discrimination in the very short term, there is some evidence suggesting that this has generally increased during the pandemic (Target 16.b). Since the start of the pandemic, the UN has documented a rise in discrimination, hate speech, social and economic exclusion, stigma and obstacles facing LGBTIQ+ people when it comes to accessing health care, education, employment and essential services (UN, 2021[18]). In addition, as stressed by the OECD (OECD, 2020[19]), many studies suggest that discrimination against migrants strongly increases in times of a slack labour market – first, employers are less likely to recruit migrants during economic downturns (Baert et al., 2015[20]), and second, migrants have fewer networks, while the importance of such networks increases when labour market conditions worsen (Behtoui, 2004[21]).

Goal 17 urges governments, international and non-governmental organisations, the private sector and civil society to team up to implement the SDG goals and targets. It stresses that, by working together, they can unlock the necessary financial resources, share technologies and create national capacities. On financial resources, the 2030 Agenda stresses that the financing for the sustainable development landscape is multifaceted. While tax revenue is the main long-term source to fund public expenditure, the 2030 Agenda suggests that it may not be enough for many developing countries. The available data show that the total official development assistance (ODA) provided by Development Assistance Committee (DAC) member countries in 2020, at 0.32% of their GNI, remained far from the target of 0.7% of GNI. Beyond the finance sub-goal, where the available data allow to measure the contribution of OECD countries to middle-income and least developed countries, the paucity of data prevent us from providing an exhaustive assessment of how OECD countries could foster development elsewhere in terms of the Technology, Capacity-Building and Trade sub-goals.

On the technology front, for instance, rather than focusing on co-operation on science, technology and innovation, the indicators featured in the global indicator framework focus on Internet access and use in individual countries, rather than on OECD countries’ contributions to extend Internet access in developing countries. Beyond financial resources, technologies and national capacities, Goal 17 includes seven targets on “Systemic Issues” such as policy and institutional coherence, multi-stakeholder partnerships and data, monitoring and accountability. However, here as well, the lack of data hampers a comprehensive assessment of many of these targets.

The COVID-19 crisis is putting historic pressure on the financing for sustainable development landscape, spanning all sources of financing. The impact of the crisis may be less dramatic in terms of Technology, Capacity-Building and Trade when focusing on OECD countries. Yet, the primary objective of Goal 17 is to foster collaboration and support development beyond national borders. In many middle- and low-income countries, the consequences of the pandemic have been devastating. Partnerships with developing countries and development co-operation will be key to address the debt legacy of the crisis. On the technology front, for instance, while the COVID-19 crisis has spurred new practices in scientific communication as rapid sharing of data and scientific discoveries worldwide has become essential, stronger international efforts are needed to provide low-income countries with the resources needed to vaccinate their populations for their own and the world’s benefit. In addition, while the pandemic may not have any direct impact on policy and institutional coherence, it has stressed even further how global co-operation and co-ordination remain essential (see Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Goal 17 section for further details).

Among the 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda, Goal 17 stands out for its unique features. While Goals 1 to 16 all focus on a specific thematic area such as quality education, poverty reduction or biodiversity, Goal 17 aims at supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as a whole. Goal 17 is also supported by a greater number of targets than other goals – while there are, on average, around 10 targets supporting each goal, Goal 17 includes twice as many targets. For this reason (and as presented in the declaration endorsed by UN member states (UN, 2015[1])), the targets have been clustered in this section into five different areas: Finance (Targets 17.1 to 17.5), Technology (Targets 17.6 to 17.8), Capacity-building (Target 17.9), Trade (Targets 17.10 to 17.12) and Systemic Issues (Targets 17.13 to 17.19). Finally, from a measurement perspective, many targets are supported by indicators whose changes over time often lack a clear normative direction (i.e. whether more of it is better or worse). Therefore, many targets could not be properly assessed in this report despite data being available. For these reasons, the structure of this section is slightly different from others in this report; the section does not dive into the specific targets but rather discusses outcomes and data availability at the sub-goal level. This section is therefore more qualitative and less focused on OECD countries’ actual distance to target and on changes in this distance over time.

This report uses data from the SDG Global Database together with OECD sources. Yet the starting point always remains the global indicator framework, curated by the IAEG-SDGs. Table 5.3 shows that data allow the monitoring of seven of the 19 targets underpinning Goal 17. For this goal, two indicators sourced from the OECD are used to complement the SDG Global Database. As the OECD is the Custodian Agency for both indicators, they by definition align with the global indicator framework, but drawing from OECD databases allows timelier coverage15 and encompasses a broader set of countries.16 In addition to the indicators listed in the table, the UN database includes 27 additional data series that are considered to be mainly informative (e.g. total government revenue as a proportion of GDP or volume of remittances as a proportion of total GDP) in the context of Goal 17 (details and data for all indicators are available at https://www.oecd.org/wise/the-short-and-winding-road-to-2030-data-chapter-5-peace-and-partnerships.xlsx).

The financing for the sustainable development landscape is multifaceted. It includes public, private, domestic and international resources as recognised by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) to finance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Tax revenue is the main long-term, viable source to fund public expenditure. It is therefore the first target (Target 17.1) in this goal. Tax revenues are the largest source of income to fund public expenditure in most developing countries. As stressed by the OECD (2020[22]), in 2017, countries eligible to receive official development assistance (ODA) collected USD 5.3 trillion in tax revenue, more than twice the amount of external inflows recorded in the same year.17 Since the early 2000s, tax revenue as a share of GDP has increased in 92 of the 113 ODA-eligible countries considered, but pronounced differences remain across countries with different income levels and across world regions.

However, too many headwinds prevent developing countries from designing tax systems that protect their tax base whilst creating a transparent and predictable investment climate. OECD countries have played an important role in the expansion of international co-operation on tax matters since the 2008 global financial crisis. The OECD has provided a range of new tools and standards to address the challenges of cross-border taxation, including the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) and the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Actions. In October 2021, 137 members of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS reached final agreement on a major reform of the international tax system, which will bring the international tax rules into the 21st century and will ensure that multinational enterprises will be subject to a minimum 15% tax rate from 2023 wherever they operate and generate profits. While a global minimum tax agreement does not eliminate tax competition, it puts a multilaterally agreed limit on it. To support developing countries seeking to implement or strengthen their regimes for addressing transfer pricing and other BEPS-related issues, the OECD developed specific programmes such as the Tax and Development Programme and the Tax Inspectors Without Borders initiative, a joint initiative with UNDP that provides hands-on assistance by sending experts to work together with auditors in the host administration on real-time cases.

ODA to support tax systems has increased modestly but remains small. The 2030 Agenda calls for international support to developing countries in their efforts to strengthen the mobilisation of domestic resources (Target 17.1). Twenty DAC members are also members of the Addis Tax Initiative, which committed to collectively double the development assistance to tax between 2015 and 2020. To help track this support, a purpose code for support to Domestic Revenue Mobilisation (DRM) was created in 2015 in the DAC Creditor Reporting System (CRS). This shows that while disbursements of ODA to DRM have increased by 49% between 2015-2019, this still represents just 0.23% of ODA (Table 5.4). A number of countries are also reviewing their policy on the tax treatment of ODA. While historically donors had required development partners to provide tax exemptions on ODA, several providers have responded to the commitment in the AAAA for providers of government-to-government aid to review their policies, especially on VAT and import duties (AAAA para 58). To track the position of ODA providers on ODA taxation, the OECD has established a transparency hub that DAC members can use to voluntarily share their policies and any other relevant information. The hub launched in January 2022 with information on 12 DAC members, covering over 50% of bilateral ODA.

Tax revenues typically fall short of the needs of most developing countries. Therefore, the 2030 Agenda calls for mobilising other sources of external finance, including ODA (Target 17.2), foreign direct investment (FDI) and remittances (Target 17.3), loans (Target 17.4) and other types of foreign investment (Target 17.5). The total external finance received by low-income countries recovered from a sharp drop in 2015 to rise in 2018 to around USD 2 trillion (OECD, 2020[22]). However, these levels remained well below the peak attained in 2013, which was driven mainly by private investment inflows. In contrast to private investment inflows, which are typically volatile over time, the record of inflows of remittances to these countries has steadily increased since 2009 due to rising international migration and improvements in measuring these flows, which since 2016 have exceeded FDI as the largest source of external finance (OECD, 2020[22]). Yet as stressed in the Prosperity chapter, the high cost of sending remittances limits their full potential.

In 2020, total ODA provided by DAC member18 countries reached 0.32% of GNI, less than half of the 0.7% target. Target 17.2 calls on “developed countries to fully implement their official development assistance commitments, including the commitment by many developed countries to achieve the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for official development assistance (ODA/GNI) to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of ODA/GNI to least developed countries; ODA providers are encouraged to consider setting a target to provide at least 0.20 per cent of ODA/GNI to least developed countries”. This is the only target of this sub-goal that can be monitored properly. The available data cover most OECD countries, there are clear international benchmarks19 and changes in the indicator have a clear normative direction (the higher the share of ODA in GNI, the better). In 2020, while only seven OECD countries met the 0.7% of GNI target (Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as Turkey, which is not a DAC member), two additional countries (France and the Netherlands) spent more than 0.54% of their GNI on ODA, and can thus be considered as being close to target level (Figure 5.6). Conversely, 12 OECD countries are considered to be far from target, with ODA amounting to less than 0.22% of GNI. While this includes four OECD countries that are not DAC members (Estonia, Israel, Lithuania, Latvia), it also includes the Czech Republic, Korea, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and the United States,20which are members of DAC. In the long run, most OECD countries have increased the share of their GNI devoted to ODA (23 OECD countries out of the 34 for which data are available). Yet progress is often modest, and, based on recent trends, no additional country is expected to join the “club” of countries that meet or exceed the United Nations’ ODA target of 0.7% of GNI by 2030.

More generally, while the available data may not be timely enough to portray the current situation, as detailed in Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Goal 17, the COVID-19 outbreak has had dramatic consequences on finance in many developing countries. The pandemic and related containment measures led to a historic contraction in global GDP. Just a few months after the outbreak, 90 out of 122 developing countries entered recession as shutdowns hit key sectors like tourism and manufacturing. Millions of jobs were lost, and global trade declined, leaving the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries facing the greatest challenges, due to large informal sectors and a lack of social safety nets. In addition, many developing countries find themselves lacking the tools (such as large monetary and fiscal stimulus packages) deployed by OECD governments.

Every country needs science, technology and innovation (STI) to meet its own national SDG goals. STI capabilities are unevenly distributed across the globe. Some countries are resource-rich but knowledge-poor, whereas other countries have knowledge that is insufficiently connected to the industrial sector or actual societal needs. Three targets within Goal 17 directly relate to international co-operation on research and innovation. These include:

  • Target 17.6, which calls to “enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international co-operation on and access to STI and enhance knowledge-sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved co-ordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism”;

  • Target 17.7, on “promoting the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed”; and

  • Target 17.8, which aims at “operationalising the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017 and enhancing the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology”.

Unfortunately, while targets 17.6 to 17.8 focus on co-operation in STI and technology transfers, the available data do not allow to capture these dimensions of the 2030 Agenda. Target 17.7 is the only one to be supported by an indicator that aims to address the issue through a measure of the “total amount of funding for developing countries to promote the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies”. Yet no data on this indicator are available in the UN database.

Rather than focusing on STI co-operation, Targets 17.6 and 17.8 are monitored through data on Internet access and use. Target 17.6 is measured through an indicator of “fixed Internet broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants21 (Target 17.6). Beyond access to the Internet, Target 17.8 refers to the actual use of the Internet (whether relying on fixed or mobile broadband networks). Despite the persistent connectivity divides that occur in many OECD countries (see Prosperity chapter), the primary objective of these STI targets is to enhance the contribution of the many stakeholders in development co-operation to extend Internet coverage in poorer countries. Unfortunately, among existing SDG frameworks, no data currently allow to assess the role of international co-operation in general, and of OECD countries in particular, in extending Internet coverage in poorer countries – for further details on digital transformation in low- and middle-income countries see (OECD, 2021[25]).

Target 17.9 aims at “enhancing international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the Sustainable Development Goals, including through North-South, South-South and triangular co-operation”). It is monitored by an indicator on the “dollar value of financial and technical assistance (including through North-South, South-South and triangular co-operation) committed to developing countries” but is operationalised through data on the total official development assistance for technical co-operation. Yet, as mentioned for other aid-related targets, the best sectoral breakdown of ODA depends on the needs of each recipient and the priorities of each donor (if total ODA is kept constant, an increase in one specific area would imply a reduction in other areas of ODA). Therefore, Target 17.9 is considered as informative, but it is not used in this report to benchmark countries’ performance. According to OECD data, total Official Development Assistance for capacity-building and national planning stood at USD 35.9 billion in 2019, a level that has been stable since 2010 and that represents 14% of the aid that could be allocated to different sectors. The main sectors assisted by ODA were energy policy, public administration and the financial sector, which received a total of USD 13.8 billion. Within that total, sub-Saharan Africa received USD 7.1 billion, Latin America and the Caribbean received USD 5.9 billion and Southern Asia USD 4.4 billion.

Trade and market openness drive GDP growth and economic opportunities worldwide, but also impact economies and societies throughout the global value chain (GVC). On the one hand, foreign trade and GDP growth have historically gone hand-in-hand, with better economic performance in more open countries at all levels of development, creating opportunities for workers, consumers and firms around the globe and helping to lift millions out of poverty (OECD, 2021[26]). Relatively open economies grow faster than relatively closed ones, and salaries and working conditions are generally better in companies that trade than in those that do not (OECD, 2021[26]). More prosperity and opportunity around the world also promote greater stability and security for everyone. In turn, economies that grow through foreign trade also experience higher domestic demand, which rely on local resources that can include produced and natural capital, as well as labour, human and social capital. Because of these links, the use of imported goods and services in one country can affect other countries through job creation or displacement, employment conditions (whether for better or worse than local alternatives), depletion of natural resources, investment in produced capital, and other economic and social impacts (Ino, Murtin and Shinwell, 2021[27]). In addition, while trade helps to reallocate resources, losses can be sharp and concentrated on some sectors and individuals. So as well as ensuring that people are able to take advantage of opportunities from trade and technology, governments must also find ways to help those facing difficult adjustments (OECD, 2021[26]).

While economies are increasingly interdependent due to GVCs, trade flows can also influence wage inequality. Evidence of this effect is often mixed and inconclusive, with some analyses suggesting relatively small effects in lowering wage inequality for low-skilled segments of the labour force (Lopez Gonzalez, Kowalski and Achard, 2015[28]). The impact of trade openness on the population depends on both domestic institutions and the economy’s capacity to take advantage of the opportunities created and to distribute equitably the benefits associated to trade. For example, high reliance on exports of natural resources coupled with weak institutions can result in a “resource curse”, leading to poorer outcomes relative to countries at the same level of development but with fewer natural resources (Havro and Santiso, 2008[29]).

Targets 17.10 to 17.12 of the 2030 Agenda aims to promote trade while making sure it benefits everyone:

  • Target 17.10 aims at “Promoting a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization, including through the conclusion of negotiations under its Doha Development Agenda”;

  • Target 17.11 is about “Significantly increasing the exports of developing countries, in particular with a view to doubling the least developed countries’ share of global exports by 2020”;

  • Target 17.12 focuses on “Realising timely implementation of duty-free and quota-free market access on a lasting basis for all least developed countries, consistent with World Trade Organization decisions, including by ensuring that preferential rules of origin applicable to imports from least developed countries are transparent and simple, and contribute to facilitating market access”.

The paucity of data prevents an exhaustive assessment of the Trade segment of Goal 17. Target 17.10 is measured through the “worldwide weighted tariff-average” (available for both most-favoured-nation status and for the preferential status). At global level, evidence suggests that overall tariff rates have remained unchanged in recent years, although some slight reductions have occurred in sectors such as clothing and textile (UN, 2021[30]). Using the OECD distribution of outcomes on average tariffs in 2015, the target level for this indicator has been set at 1.14% for countries benefitting from most-favoured-nation status, and at 0.69% for those with preferential status (i.e. the level observed in EU countries). In 2019, despite a (small) increase, all EU countries as well as Switzerland and Iceland were close to the target level for both measures. At the other end of the spectrum, three OECD countries (Turkey, Colombia and Korea) were still far from the target for both measures (with the worldwide weighted tariff-average ranging from 4.5% to more than 9% for most-favoured-nation countries, and from 2.5% to 5.2% for countries having preferential status).

Target 17.11 is monitored through an indicator on “developing countries’ and least developed countries’ (LDC) share of global exports”. This indicator, however, cannot be used as a measure of performance for individual OECD countries. While valuable and informative, the share of global exports is assessed only at regional level and not for individual countries. The LDCs' share of world merchandise exports has been stagnating (at 1% in 2019) for almost a decade (after significant gains in the previous decade). Therefore, "doubling the share of global LDC exports" by 2020 is already out of reach. The group of the developing countries as a whole also experienced a similar trend, with an increase in the share in world merchandise exports between 2001 to 2012, and stability (at around 45%) thereafter (UN, 2021[30]).

The tariff treatment provided by OECD countries to exports from developing and least developed countries has remained unchanged in recent years. Target 17.12 is monitored by two indicators of the (weighted) average tariffs faced by developing countries,22 least developed countries and Small Island Developing States: one for those countries that benefit from a preferential status, and the other for those countries having the status of “most favoured nation”.23 As no ideal target can be set, the level to be achieved is defined using the observed OECD distribution of scores in 2015. In 2019, Turkey and New Zealand were the only countries reporting much higher average tariffs against the two groups of countries than the main bulk of OECD countries (while Australia and Greece reported higher tariffs for only one of the two measures).

Beyond unlocking the necessary financial resources (see Finance), sharing technologies (see Technology) and supporting the creation of national capacities in developing countries (see Capacity-building and Trade), Goal 17 includes seven targets (from Targets 17.13 to 17.19) on “Systemic Issues”. While most of the previous targets focused on the transboundary actions that OECD countries could carry out to support development outcomes elsewhere (Ino, Murtin and Shinwell, 2021[27]), this set of targets also includes domestic actions that each country would need to achieve within its borders. These targets are clustered by the UN into three main areas: Policy and institutional coherence (Targets 17.13 to 17.15), Multi-stakeholder partnerships (Targets 17.16 and 17.17), and Data, monitoring and accountability (Targets 17.18 and 17.19).

Implementing the 2030 Agenda calls for co-ordinated policies at all levels of government. Unfortunately, data are still missing to assess the extent to which different national institutions and policies are contributing to the attainment of the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda in a coherent way. Ensuring coherence across the different ministries and agencies (including coherences across different levels of governments), identifying and managing trade-offs, as well as seeking out and optimising synergies are all essential for making sure that progress on one SDG does not undermine progress on another. The 2030 Agenda includes three targets to track this issue:

  • Target 17.13 on “enhancing global macroeconomic stability, including through policy co-ordination and policy coherence”;

  • Target 17.14 on “enhancing policy coherence for sustainable development”; and

  • Target 17.15 on “respecting each country’s policy space and leadership to establish and implement policies for poverty eradication and sustainable development”.

Policy and institutional coherence start with macroeconomic stability, but the SDG Global Database lacks relevant data. To monitor Target 17.13 at the global level, the World Bank has developed a Macroeconomic dashboard that includes a range of macroeconomic indicators covering the external, financial, fiscal and non-financial sectors. While the dashboard should build on existing macroeconomic monitoring frameworks developed and used by international and regional agencies, such as the IMF, the WB, the ECB and the OECD, so far, no data have been included in the SDG Global Database.

While the degree of policy and institutional coherence deployed by countries in their pursuit of the SDGs may be measured through ad hoc indices, data are very limited to assess the implementation of Target 17.14. In 2020, UNEP launched, in collaboration with the OECD, a global data collection to compute an indicator measuring the extent to which “existing governance structures, processes, systems are conducive to improvements in policy coherence for sustainable development”. Unfortunately, so far only 27 countries have responded to the questionnaire, and no data are included in the UN database. The OECD has issued recommendations and tools to support countries in enhancing “policy coherence for sustainable development” (PCSD), and it is developing a methodological framework together with a set of indicators to help countries monitor their progress in this area, in line with the OECD Council Recommendation on PCSD. Indicators are planned to capture institutional mechanisms (process) in line with the global methodology, policy interactions (i.e. linkages between economic, social and environmental values in terms of synergies and trade-offs) and policy impacts (i.e. transboundary impacts). This work will be supported through data collected by a baseline survey for Adherents to the OECD recommendation, which will be circulated by early 2022.

Target 17.15 emphasises that development interventions by providers of development co-operation from OECD countries need to be coherent with results frameworks owned by partner (recipient) countries. Yet according to available data, besides Iceland and to a lesser extent Finland, no OECD country is extensively using results frameworks24 and planning tools owned by partner (recipient) countries. According to the global indicator framework, Target 17.15 should be assessed through an index informing on the “extent of use of country-owned results frameworks and planning tools by providers of development co-operation”.25 The index assesses the degree to which providers of development co-operation (i.e. development partners) design their interventions by relying on the objectives and indicators that are drawn from country government-owned results frameworks, reflecting the country’s development priorities and goals (OECD/UNDP, 2019[31]).26 By construction, the index ranges from 0 (worst possible score) to 100 (best possible score), which is therefore a natural target for this indicator. Yet to allow for possible measurement error, the target is considered to be attained in this report if the score is greater than 97. In 2018, Iceland and Finland were the only countries with scores above 75 (Figure 5.7). Using this report’s methodology to gauge the distance to targets (see Box 1.1), only two OECD countries cannot be considered as far from the target (or having already achieved it). The OECD conducted extensive research to explore ways for OECD countries and partner countries to use the SDGs as a common results framework – thereby progressing towards target 17.15 – and built on this research to provide recommendations for policy makers in November 2021 (OECD, 2021[32]).

Multilateral co-operation has grown rapidly in the past 70 years and has achieved many outstanding successes, including the eradication of serious diseases, the reversal of the erosion of the ozone layer and the liberalisation of world trade (UN, 2018[33]). In recent years, however, multilateralism has also faced challenges. For instance, it has been argued that countries have been too slow to provide new multilateral responses to emerging issues, that it has not been effective in ensuring that all parties play by the rules, and that the voices of different parties in multilateral processes have not been consistent with their importance in the global system (OECD, 2018[34]). In particular, current multilateral settings have fallen short of integrating large emerging economies that have been gaining importance in the global economy. Multilateral processes have also been seen as ineffective in ensuring that the benefits of globalisation are widely shared (OECD, 2018[34]). The 2030 Agenda includes two targets reflecting these concerns:

  • Target 17.16 on “enhancing the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries”; and

  • Target 17.17 on “encouraging and promoting effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships”.

Multilateralism can help to shape global flows and promote an open, level and well-governed playing field as well as to improve the management of “global goods” (OECD, 2018[34]). Unfortunately, relevant data that would allow measuring the actual success of multilateralism on these terms are very limited. The IAEG-SDGs proposed to support targets 17.16 and 17.17 by one indicator each. The first target (Target 17.16) is to be assessed through a binary measure assessing whether countries are reporting progress in multi-stakeholder development frameworks that support the achievement of the sustainable development goals.27 This indicator shows that only 16 OECD countries (out of 29 with available data) are reporting progress on such multi-stakeholder development frameworks. The second target (Target 17.17) is monitored by the amount in US dollars committed by countries to support public-private partnerships for developing new infrastructure.28 Unfortunately, this measure could not be included in this report due to lack of data (data for OECD countries are available only for Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Turkey).

Regarding Target 17.17 on “encouraging and promoting effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships”, it is worth noting nonetheless that DAC members marked a historic milestone by adopting the OECD DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance – the first international standard focused on the actions of donors that is specific to enabling civil society as a partner and contributor to the 2030 Agenda and its pledge to leave no one behind. The Recommendation indicates a strong political commitment to strengthen partnerships with CSOs and civil society more generally to maximise their contribution to the SDGs’ achievement, both as independent development actors in their own right and as implementing partners.

The 2030 Agenda is a political commitment from all UN member states, but it is also an unprecedented statistical challenge. Therefore the last two targets under Goal 17 (Targets 17.18 and 17.19) aim to foster the development of more and better data:

  • Target 17.18 on “enhancing capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing states, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national context” by 2020; and

  • Target 17.19 on “developing measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement gross domestic product, and support statistical capacity-building in developing countries” building on existing initiatives.

At the global level, the IAEG-SDGs suggested to monitor Target 17.18 with three indicators: a composite measure of statistical capacity (Indicator 17.18.1); a binary measure of the extent to which national statistical legislation complies with the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics29 (Indicator 17.18.2); and a set of measures assessing the extent to which national statistical plans are funded and implemented (Indicator 17.18.3).

While comparable measures of statistical capacity are not available for OECD countries, all of them report very high statistical standards. In 2020, all OECD member states reported having national statistical legislation that was compliant with the United Nations Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics.30 Statistical legislation that complies with the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics can help NSOs to strengthen the public’s trust in official statistics. It provides a legal basis for NSOs’ independence and funding security and ensures that the NSO follows strict international standards in transparency, methodology, procedure and ethics. In addition, available data collected by PARIS21 suggests that national statistical plans are fully funded in the vast majority of OECD countries (with the possible exceptions of Luxembourg, Chile, Korea, Iceland and Colombia). Besides Iceland, all OECD countries declared having a national statistical plan under implementation.

Target 17.19 has two main dimensions: the support to statistical capacity (measured through the dollar value of all resources made available to strengthen statistical capacity in developing countries) and statistical capacity in place to go beyond GDP (measured by the extent to which countries have conducted at least one population and housing census in the last 10 years, have achieved 100% birth registration and 80% death registration). Yet, as mentioned already, Target 17.2 on total ODA is the only aid-related target monitored in this report, while the ideal sectoral breakdown of ODA is assumed to depend on the needs of each recipient and the priorities of each donor. Therefore, the first dimension of Target 17.19 cannot be assessed in this report. Still, as noted by PARIS21 (2021[35]), since the adoption of the SDGs, the funding to data and statistics has increased at a slow but steady speed, from USD 591 million in 2015 to USD 693 million in 2018. Despite the progress made, the most recent estimates indicate that funding on support to statistics did not increase in 2019, while the COVID-19-related disruption to the normal funding flow has brought much uncertainty for 2020 and onwards – despite persisting critical needs.

The other dimension of Target 17.19 (“developing measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement gross domestic product”) is not a challenge for OECD countries when assessed based on the global indicator framework: all but one (Colombia) have already achieved universal coverage of vital statistics thanks to exhaustive civil registration systems. Yet even though most OECD countries are adopting multidimensional approaches to measure well-being beyond GDP, most of these initiatives are recent, and institutional support remains vital to ensure the durability of these programmes (Exton and Shinwell, 2018[36]).

Overall, OECD countries show a very mixed picture when it comes to Goal 17 (Figure 5.8). Using the most recent observations suggests that OECD countries are far from their commitments in many areas. Figure 5.8, panel A, shows that about half of them are far from providing significant financial support to developing countries. In addition, while many of the countries have increased their financial support, only one in six is expected to meet or exceed their commitment by 2030 (Figure 5.8, panel B). Beyond Finance, available data do not allow a proper assessment of whether OECD countries are able to foster development elsewhere through Technology and Capacity-Building. On Trade, the situation is more positive, with only one in 10 OECD countries considered to be far from target. Beyond unlocking the necessary financial resources, sharing technologies and supporting the creation of national capacities in developing countries, Goal 17 includes targets on “Systemic Issues”. On this front, though, as detailed above, the paucity of data prevents providing an exhaustive assessment. For instance, while almost all OECD countries are considered to be close to the target on Data and Monitoring, this is also because of the low level of ambition of the indicators supporting this area. The OECD Recommendation on Good Statistical Practice (OECD, 2019[37]) is the first and only OECD legal instrument concerning statistics. It represents both a key reference for assessing and benchmarking national statistical systems and a detailed blueprint to establish a sound and credible national statistical system. It complements existing international standards, such as the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics and the European Statistics Code of Practice (revised edition 2017), and provides a key reference that reflects the fact that the quality of statistics is fundamental to the quality of the OECD’s evidence-based analytical work. Adherence to the Recommendation is open to non-Members. In 2020, the OECD released a report on the implementation of the Recommendation, which concludes that Adherent countries achieved significant progress in implementing the Recommendation since its adoption in 2015.

The financing for the sustainable development landscape is facing historic pressures following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a collapse in external private finance that exceeded that experienced after the global financial crisis of 2008-09. All public, private, domestic and international resources have been impacted to varying degrees, confronting developing countries with huge financial challenges as they deploy their emergency responses to the COVID-19 crisis (OECD, 2020[22]). A combination of domestic and external factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure on all sources of financing. Early estimates and projections suggest that inflows of remittances and external private investment to ODA-eligible developing economies could decline by around USD 700 billion in 2020 from the previous year. This would exceed the 2008 drop observed during the global financial crisis by 60% in real terms. Tax revenue could also decline as economies contract and governments introduce tax relief measures in the short and medium term (OECD, 2020[22]).

As the data demonstrates, the COVID-19 crisis has increased the financing gap for the SDGs at a time when ODA alone was already failing to deliver the 2030 Agenda. Consequently, effective mobilisation of the private sector is needed to raise overall financial resources and meet the SDG gap, currently estimated to be USD 3.7 trillion (OECD, 2020[38]). Investment strategies like blended finance, which the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) defines as using development finance to help mobilise additional finance from commercial sources, are critical to leveraging the multifaceted power of the development finance landscape. Policy recommendations to help achieve scale, outlined in a recent OECD report (OECD, 2021[39]), include policy instruments such as debt issuance through Green, Social and Sustainability Bonds, guarantees, and risk transfer mechanisms. Most importantly, implementation of effective impact management should support assurances that policies are tied to a clear development mandate.

Therefore, many middle- and low-income countries may face high debt burdens for years. The fiscal response to COVID-19 was on average seven times smaller in low-income countries than in advanced economies, resulting in the public debt-ratio increasing by 20 to 30 percentage points of GDP (Ahmad and Carey, 2021[40]). Analysing debt vulnerability across 120 low- and middle-income economies to identify which are most at risk, the UNDP classified 72 economies as “vulnerable”, of which 19 are “severely vulnerable”. Based on measures of sustainable debt thresholds and ratios, the report concluded that these countries are likely to be highly vulnerable to debt for years, not returning to pre-pandemic levels before 2024-2025 (UNDP, 2021[41]).

To date, vaccines have been delivered mainly to high-income countries, many of which have purchased quantities sufficient to immunise their population several times over, while others, particularly those dependent on multilateral initiatives for vaccine access, remain in short supply (OECD, 2021[42]). The pandemic has raised some of the most controversial discussions ever to occur at the World Trade Organisation, concerning a patent waiver on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments during the pandemic. While making patent information, patent pools or compulsory licensing available does not necessarily deliver long-term results because these steps are not usually sufficient to reproduce the technology, this debate raises the question of international technology transfer to developing countries, especially in times of crisis. With just 3.1% of the population in the Least Developed Countries having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of June 2021, stronger international efforts are needed to provide low-income countries with the resources needed to vaccinate their populations for their own and the world’s benefit. This includes vaccine supply and assistance to help overcome domestic logistical hurdles to vaccine deployment (OECD, 2021[43]).

Conversely, the COVID-19 crisis has spurred new practices in scientific communication, as the rapid sharing of data and scientific discoveries worldwide has become essential. Some traditional constraints to technology transfers have been lifted or relaxed during the pandemic to accelerate the publication and dissemination of scientific results relevant to the pandemic. Pre-prints, i.e. academic papers that have not been peer reviewed, have become more common, allowing for faster diffusion of scientific findings, but also raising risks around quality. This in turn raises questions as to the functioning of peer review, its importance and its limitations. More than three-quarters of all COVID-19 publications are open access, compared to less than one-half in other biomedical fields. These developments could accelerate the transition to a more open science in the longer run (OECD, 2021[44]).

Target 17.9, which focuses on capacity-building, is to be assessed through data on the level of financial and technical assistance committed to developing countries. According to preliminary data collected by the OECD, ODA reached its highest level ever in 2020 due in part to support for the COVID-19 crisis (OECD, 2021[45]). Many DAC members indicated that they would protect ODA budgets in 2020, and several have indicated they would maintain or increase them in 2021. Yet detailed data for 2020 were not available at the time of preparing this publication, hence the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sectoral ODA remains unknown.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, most OECD countries have implemented trade and trade-related measures. WTO estimated that, among G20 countries, around two-thirds of these measures had a trade-facilitating nature while one-third could be considered as trade restrictive (WTO, 2021[46]). Several of these measures, originally introduced in immediate response to the pandemic, have been extended in 2021. The reduction or elimination of import tariffs and import taxes make up 60% of the trade-facilitating measures taken. Several G20 economies have reduced their tariffs on a variety of goods, such as Personal Protective Equipment (e.g. face masks), sanitizers, disinfectants, medical equipment and medicine/drugs. Many OECD countries have also temporarily eliminated their import tariffs on COVID-19 vaccines (these include the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States). In addition, some countries eliminated, suspended, or waived the payment of other taxes and/or duties or deferred the payment of tariffs and other taxes on all imported products (WTO, 2021[47]).

The COVID-19 pandemic may not have any direct impact on policy and institutional coherence. On the contrary, planning the recovery requires cross-sectoral actions and mechanisms to manage unavoidable trade-offs between short-term and long-term priorities, and between economic, social and environmental policy goals – which would all enhance institutional coherence. The COVID-19 crisis underlines the need to pay greater attention to the impact that domestic actions have not just on the country in which they occur, but on others who are affected by the policy choices (OECD/EC-JRC, 2021[48]). In short, a policy coherence roadmap is needed to strengthen the mechanisms for ensuring a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that does not come at the expense of progress towards the SDGs (OECD, 2020[49]).

Global co-operation and co-ordination remain essential to address the global health crisis and steer the recovery. However, many countries’ initial policy responses to the pandemic were not co-ordinated internationally and have exposed weaknesses in current co-operation. While justified to account for different national realities and various stages of the pandemic, differences in approaches may also stem from inadequate consideration for the international environment and result in ineffective policy intervention, delays (and even shortages) in access to essential goods and higher administrative costs (OECD, 2020[50]). At national level, while stimulus-and-recovery plans provide an opportunity to foster growth and employment, policy co-ordination will be key to tackle long-standing challenges in OECD economies such as low GDP growth and stagnating productivity as well as shortcomings in inclusiveness and sustainability.31

Setting policies to foster a sustainable and inclusive recovery requires statistical infrastructure that provides timely and disaggregated information. The COVID-19 pandemic has therefore highlighted even further the vital role of official statistics as a tool for governments to design and target policy responses. The COVID-19 crisis has had a significant impact on the compilation and dissemination of official statistics. Lockdowns in many countries and teleworking have affected the ways surveys and censuses are carried out. The rush to meet new information needs, and the difficulty of data collection in a pandemic, have posed new challenges for data quality. This has placed a premium on the high-quality, high-frequency, large-sample data collections that are typical of some economic indicators, but rare in the case of social, relational and environmental outcomes. Some national statistical offices in the OECD area have responded with significant innovations, ranging from high-frequency household “pulse” surveys to new Internet-based surveys and experimental time-use surveys (OECD, 2021[11]).

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Notes

← 1. The preamble of the 2030 Agenda says that the agenda is “a plan of action for People, Planet and Prosperity [that] also seeks to strengthen universal Peace [with] all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative Partnership”. Yet no official mapping between the 5Ps and goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda has been endorsed by the United Nations. The mapping of goals and targets into the five “Ps” used in this report was first proposed by the United Nations (UNESCWA, 2018[51]), but it should not be considered as binding, as the SDGs are integrated and indivisible and some goals might relate to more than one P.

← 2. The aggregation of countries’ performances at the goal level attributes equal weights to all data series measuring the same SDG indicator as well as equal weights to all the indicators measuring the same target. The OECD average refers to the unweighted average of the performance of Member countries.

← 3. In the SDG Global Database, 16.1.4 is available up to 2018 and is on average available for two points in time, whereas in OECD databases data are available up to 2020 and for the past 15 years.

← 4. In the SDG Global database, 16.1.1 is derived from two separate and independent sources at national level: the criminal justice and public health/civil registration systems. While there is (usually) a good level of matching between the sources (UNODC Global Study on Homicide, (2013[52])), this may hamper the comparability over time or between countries. Conversely, using OECD data enables preservation of strict comparability.

← 5. Homicide data are produced by two separate and independent sources at national level: the criminal justice and public health/civil registration systems. Data series from the SDG Global Database may be relying on both sources. The additional OECD indicators rely only on data on homicides produced by public health authorities and guided by the International classification of diseases (ICD-10), which provides a definition of “Death by assault” that is very close to the definition of intentional homicide of the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS) and which has been age-adjusted to allow comparison among OECD countries.

← 6. When comparing the most recent years available, homicide rates are very close (the average distance between the data series is below 1 cases per 100 000 population), and the cross-country correlation is above 0.95.

← 7. The lack of data significantly hampers the assessment. The IAEG-SDGs suggested that the police reporting rate should cover physical assault, sexual assault and robbery. Yet current data are available only for the latter offence and for a few countries only, and they are not up-to-date. Data are available for 22 OECD countries in the case of reporting robbery, and for eight OECD countries (Canada, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Costa Rica and Estonia) for assaults, with the latest year available ranging from 2009 to 2014.

← 8. “Sentenced” detainees refers to persons subject to criminal proceedings who have received a decision from a competent authority regarding their conviction or acquittal. For the purposes of computing this indicator, persons who have received a “non-final” decision (such as when a conviction is subject to appeal) are considered to be “sentenced”. Therefore, the indicator aims at tracking the overall respect for the principle that persons awaiting trial shall not be detained in custody unnecessarily.

← 9. The civil justice index is a composite measure encompassing seven dimensions: 7.1 People can access and afford civil justice; 7.2 Civil justice is free of discrimination; 7.3 Civil justice is free of corruption; 7.4 Civil justice is free of improper government influence; 7.5 Civil justice is not subject to unreasonable delay; 7.6 Civil justice is effectively enforced; and 7.7 Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are accessible, impartial and effective. Data are sourced from household and expert surveys. For more information, see https://worldjusticeproject.org/our-work/wjp-rule-law-index.

← 10. For further details on bribery and corruption, it should be noted that, since 1994, the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions has monitored the implementation and enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention (and the 2009 Anti-Bribery Recommendation and related instruments) and publishes country monitoring reports.

← 11. Since early 2000, cross-country comparative statistics of institutional trust have become widely and regularly available (González and Smith, 2017[54]). Yet as most surveys have different coverage periodicity and work under different criteria of statistical quality, ongoing work mostly rely on unofficial sources of data such as the Gallup World Poll. The OECD Guidelines for Measuring Trust provides an analysis of the accuracy of existing trust measures and develops them further (OECD, 2017[55]). More recently, the OECD Trust survey has been reviewed to ensure its feasibility in different contexts, and a survey questionnaire has been reviewed between May and October 2021 by an advisory group composed of senior public governance specialists in OECD countries, representatives from National Statistical Offices (NSOs) and academics (Tackling Crises and Long-Term Challenges: A Matter of Trust).

← 12. The pilot index is a composite made up of the following dimensions: 1) the diversity of the workforce; 2) the availability and use of data to track diversity and inclusion; and 3) the use of tools to develop a diverse and inclusive workforce. Each dimension is built from answers to several related questions. The index ranges from 0 (low level of effort to develop a diverse central government workforce) to 1 (high level of effort). Data for this indicator, which are available for all OECD countries except Costa Rica, Chile and Iceland, are sourced from the 2020 Public Service Leadership and Capability survey and the 2020 OECD Survey on the Composition of the Workforce in Central/Federal Governments.

← 13. The Paris Principles are the international minimum standards for effective and credible NHRIs. They require that NHRIs have independence in law, membership, operations, policy and control of resources. They also require that NHRIs have a broad mandate, pluralism in membership, broad functions, adequate powers, adequate resources and co-operative methods and that they engage with international bodies.

← 14. Social capital refers to the social norms, shared values and institutional arrangements that foster co-operation (OECD, 2020[53]). Targets relating to social capital therefore relate to promoting access to justice (Target 16.3), eradicating illicit financial flows and corruption (Targets 16.4 and 16.5) and promoting transparent and inclusive institutions (Targets 16.6, 16.7 and 16.8).

← 15. Given that the OECD is the custodian agency for ODA-related indicators, there is usually a lag between the indicators’ publication on the OECD website and on the UN website. For instance, at the time of drafting this report, in the SDG Global Database net ODA was available up to 2017, while from OECD databases all data were available up to 2020.

← 16. The indicator available in the SDG Global Database lists only countries that are making progress in using multi-stakeholder frameworks that support the achievement of the sustainable development goals, while OECD data also include countries for which the assessment was conducted and no progress had been observed.

← 17. Traditional external financing for the sustainable development landscape include three broad components: external private investment, remittances and official development finance (ODF).

← 18. The Development Assistance Committee has 30 members: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Thus, although all DAC members belong to the OECD, not all OECD members currently belong to the DAC.

← 19. Despite this global commitment, not all countries adopted the 0.7% target. For instance, the United States has never adopted it, and some European countries that joined the EU most recently are committed at a European level to meet 0.33%, whilst collectively meeting 0.7% in 2030.

← 20. While, in absolute terms, the United States is the largest DAC donor (USD 35.5 billion), in relative terms it provides only 0.16% of its GNI.

← 21. Fixed wired broadband subscriptions include the total number of subscriptions to the following broadband technologies with download speeds of 256 Kbit/s or greater: DSL, cable modem, fibre-to-the-home and other fixed technologies (such as broadband over power lines and leased lines).

← 22. Target 17.10 aims at promoting a “universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable” multilateral trading system under the WTO. The indicator that the IAEG-SDGs suggests for this target is worldwide weighted average tariffs. In addition, Target 17.12 calls for the timely implementation of duty-free, quota-free market access on a lasting basis for all least developed countries (LDCs) in such a way that it contributes to facilitating market access for LDCs’ exports. The indicator that the IAEG-SDGs suggests for this target is thus restricted to average tariffs faced by developing countries and LDCs (and Small Island Developing States).

← 23. It should be noted that producers from developing countries and LDCs do not necessarily enjoy all the preferences to which they are entitled when accessing the markets of developed countries, due to a combination of stringent rules on origin and non-tariff measures.

← 24. Metadata for this indicator mention that “Country-owned results frameworks define a country’s approach to results and its associated monitoring and evaluation systems focusing on performance and achievement of development results. Using a minimal definition, these results frameworks include agreed objectives and results indicators (i.e. output, outcome, and/or impact). They also set targets to measure progress in achieving the objectives defined in the government’s planning documents.”

← 25. Metadata for this indicator mention that “the monitoring is a voluntary and country-led process. Country governments lead and coordinate data collection and validation. At country level, data are reported by relevant government entities (e.g. the Ministry of Finance/budget department for national budget information) and by development partners and stakeholders. OECD and UNDP support countries in collecting relevant data through the Global Partnership monitoring exercise, and these organisations lead data aggregation and quality assurance at the global level.”

← 26. The index relies on three sub-indicators tracking: i) whether objectives are drawn from country-owned results frameworks, plans and strategies, ii) the share of results (outcome) indicators that are drawn from country-owned results frameworks, plans and strategies and the share of results (outcome) indicators that will rely on sources of data provided by existing country-led monitoring systems or national statistical services to track project progress.

← 27. As for 17.15, the monitoring is a voluntary and country-led process. While data are reported by relevant government entities and by development partners and stakeholders, the OECD and UNDP support countries in collecting relevant data through the Global Partnership monitoring exercise.

← 28. The World Bank (which is the custodian agency for that indicator) defines the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as “any contractual arrangement between a public entity or authority and a private entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility”, while the term infrastructure refers to: i) Energy (electricity generation, transmission and distribution, and natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines); ii) ICT technology (ICT backbone infrastructure); iii) Transport (airports, railways, ports and roads); and iv) water (potable water treatment and distribution, and sewerage collection and treatment).

← 29. The Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics provides a legal basis for the independence and funding security of an NSO. It also ensures that the NSO follows strict international standards in transparency, methodology, procedure and ethics.

← 30. Data are directly provided by the National Statistical Offices to PARIS21, which is in charge of data collection and validation.

← 31. In 2021, the OECD released the COVID-19 recovery dashboard to monitor the progress towards a strong, resilient, green and inclusive recovery from COVID-19.

Disclaimers

This work is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Member countries of the OECD.

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

Note by Turkey
The information in this document with reference to “Cyprus” relates to the southern part of the Island. There is no single authority representing both Turkish and Greek Cypriot people on the Island. Turkey recognises the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Until a lasting and equitable solution is found within the context of the United Nations, Turkey shall preserve its position concerning the “Cyprus issue”.

Note by all the European Union Member States of the OECD and the European Union
The Republic of Cyprus is recognised by all members of the United Nations with the exception of Turkey. The information in this document relates to the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

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