Measuring distance to the SDG targets – Israel

Israel has already achieved 18 of the 110 SDG targets for which comparable data are available and, based on most recent trends, is expected to meet 7 additional targets by 2030 (Figure 1). As virtually all OECD countries, Israel has already met (or is close to meeting) most targets related to securing basic needs and implementing the policy tools and frameworks mentioned in the 2030 Agenda (see details in Table 1) and displays key strengths in health and innovation (Goals 3 and 9). Yet, some challenges remain; inequality is a critical issue and greater efforts are needed to halt the loss of biodiversity.

This country profile provides a high-level overview of some of Israel’s strengths and challenges in performance across the SDG targets. As such, it differs from Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) or other reporting processes. To ensure international comparability, this assessment builds on the global indicator framework and relies on data sourced from the SDG Global Database and OECD databases. VNRs typically use national indicators that reflect national circumstances and are more up-to-date (See section How to read this country profile that provides some methodological details on country profiles).

Israel main strengths are on health and innovation (Goals 3 and 9). As most OECD countries, Israel has already met targets on maternal (Target 3.1) and infant mortality (Target 3.2). Israel is already at a short distance from targets for 9 of 12 Goal 3 targets with available data. The likelihood of dying from non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases is among the lowest among OECD countries. Israel is also among the top performers on innovation – with R&D expenditures at 5% of GDP, the highest in the OECD area (Target 9.5). Israel also reports some strength on several targets pertaining to Goal 6 on water, Goal 11 on cities and Goal 16 on peace, justice and institutions.

Despite progress, inequality remains one of the main challenges for Israel. In 2018, relative income poverty rate equalled 17%, the third highest in the OECD (Targets 10.2 and 1.2) and over the past decade, income growth at the bottom of the income distribution was slower than for others. In addition, many population groups including women, ethnic and racial minorities or young adults face additional challenges: in 2020, more than half of the population did not believe that Israel is a good place to live for ethnic and racial minorities (Target 10.3) and 14% of youths were not in education, employment or training (Target 8.6). On gender equality, Israel lacks comprehensive legal frameworks ensuring and enforcing gender equality (Target 5.1 and 5.3) and, as many other OECD countries, women remain underrepresented in public spheres (Target 5.5).

Room for improvement remains large for many targets relating to environment, most notably on the protection of biodiversity. Israel shows high distances from targets on many “process indicators” tracking the implementation of frameworks and policies (Targets 15.6 on access to genetic resources or Target 15.8 on prevention of invasive alien species) and targets relating to the protection of marine and terrestrial ecosystems (Targets 14.5, 15.1 and 15.4). In addition, Israel is the only OECD country where the forest area has declined (Target 15.2), which contributed to significant loss in biodiversity (Target 15.5). Israel is also far away from achieving targets on clean energy (Target 7.2) – levels of renewable energy being well below the OECD averages – and waste generation (Targets 12.3 and 12.5).

Like in many other OECD countries, data availability remains a challenge when measuring distances to targets (see the Overview chapter for details). For Israel, available data on the level of the different indicators allow covering 110 of the 169 targets. As shown in Figure 2 below, only for three goals (Goal 1 on poverty, Goal 3 on health and Goal 10 on reduced inequalities) the indicator coverage exceeds 80%; coverage is lower for Goal 14 on life below water, with 20% of its targets covered. Data gaps become starker when focusing on performance indicators, excluding those providing contextual information. In this case, coverage exceeds 80% only for Goal 3 on health. Moreover, for eight goals, mostly within the Planet category (Goals 12, 13, 14 and 15) – but also in Goal 4 on quality education, Goal 5 on gender equality, Goal 11 on cities and Goal 17 on partnerships – data are lacking to monitor progress over time for more than two in three targets.

While some SDG Targets are, on average, close to being met, performance is very uneven across the 17 Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Table 1 presents an overview of Israel’s progress towards targets based on available data for each of the 17 Goals. It shows that distances to Targets and trends over time differ significantly even when considering a specific goal.

The OECD report The Short and Winding Road to 2030: Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets evaluates the distance that OECD countries need to travel to meet SDG targets for which data are currently available. It also looks at whether countries have been moving towards or away from these targets, and how likely they are to meet their commitments by 2030, based on an analysis of recent trends and the observed volatility in the different indicators.

As most authors and international organisations, this report adopts a rather simple geometric growth model for assessing the direction and pace of recent changes in the context of the SDGs. Yet, instead of making direct estimates of the value of the indicator by 2030, it models the likelihood of achieving a specific level using Monte Carlo simulations.

While the report provides an overview of where OECD countries, taken as a whole, currently stand, country profiles provide details of the performance and data availability of individual OECD countries.

Progress on SDGs requires a granular understanding of countries’ strengths and weaknesses based on the consideration of the 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda. Figure 1 shows both current achievements (in the inner circle; the longer the bar, the smaller the distance remaining to be travelled) as well as whether OECD countries are on track (or are at least making progress) to meet their commitments by 2030 (in the outer circle).

The length of each bar shows current level of achievement on each target. As detailed in the Methodological Annex, countries’ distance to target is measured as the “standardised difference” between a country’s current position and the target end-value. For each indicator, the standardised measurement unit (s.u.) is the standard deviation observed among OECD countries in the reference year (i.e. the year closest to 2015). Therefore, the longer the bar, the shorter the distance still to be travelled to reach the target by 2030. The colours of the bars applied to the various targets refer to the goals they pertain to.

The outer ring shows how OECD countries are performing over time and how likely they are to meet the different targets by 2030 based on the observed trends of the various indicators. It uses stoplight colours to classify the progress towards the target:

  • green is used to indicate those countries that (based on the change in the different indicators over a recent period) should meet the target in 2030 just by maintaining their current pace of progress (i.e. more than 75% of (randomised) projections meet the target);

  • yellow for those countries whose current pace of progress is insufficient to meet the target by 2030 (i.e. less than 75% of randomised projections meet the target, while the correlation coefficient between the indicator and the year is high and statistically significant, implying that a significant trend could be detected); and

  • red for those countries whose recent changes have been stagnating or moving them further away from the target (i.e. less than 75% of randomised projections meet the target and the correlation coefficient between the indicator and the year is low or statistically insignificant, implying that no statistical trend could be identified).

With the aim of helping its member countries in navigating the 2030 Agenda and in setting their own priorities for action, this report relies on a unique methodology for measuring the distance that OECD countries have to travel to achieve SDG targets. The identification of the main strengths and challenges proposed in this report relies on current performances only:

  • A target is considered to be a strength when the distance to the target end-value is lower than 0.5 s.u. (i.e. the distance is deemed to be small) or when the country is closer to the target than the OECD average. For instance, while Korea's distance to Target 2.2 on malnutrition is 1.4 s.u. (i.e. classified as medium distance), the average OECD distance is 2.5 s.u. Therefore, Target 2.2 is categorised as being a strength for Korea.

  • A target is considered to be a challenge when the distance to target is greater than 1.5 s.u. (i.e. distance is deemed to be long) or when the country is further away from the target than the OECD average. For instance, Estonia's distance to Target 4.2 on pre-primary education is 1.1 s.u. (i.e. medium distance), which is higher than the 0.24 s.u. distance for the OECD average. Target 4.2 is therefore classified as a weakness for Estonia.

While the lack of consistent time series often prevents an exhaustive assessment of trends, they are discussed when available and relevant in nuancing the assessment of current performance.

In total, this report relies on 537 data series supporting 183 of the 247 indicators listed in the global indicator framework (or for close proxies of these indicators). These indicators cover 134 of the 169 SDG targets. Yet, target coverage is uneven across the 17 goals and among OECD member countries.

Figure 2 summarises data availability:

  • darker blue bars indicate the share of targets for which at least one indicator (including indicators providing context information) is available

  • lighter blue bars indicate the share of targets for which the available indicator(s) include those having a clear normative direction (i.e. allowing to distinguish between good and bad performance), which are the only ones used to measure distances to target levels.

  • medium blue bars indicate the share of targets for which progress over time can be gauged (i.e. at least three observations are available over a five-year period).

All methods and concepts are further detailed in the Methodological Annex.

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