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The challenge of measuring SDG 16: What role for African regional frameworks?

Discussion Paper 175

May 2015

Bolaji-Adio, A. 2015. The challenge of measuring SDG 16: What role for African regional frameworks?. (Discussion Paper 175). Maastricht: ECDPM.

Recent discussions around the post-2015 development agenda have highlighted that many of the 169 targets require better clarification. In some cases, the connection between the targets and the goals need to be better articulated. The United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) is well aware of this problem and last month provided delegates with its roadmap for measuring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) along with its ratings of the feasibility and suitability of each indicator.

Difficult, however, does not mean impossible. As with any goal, national or international, the trick is in finding the appropriate measurement instrument as well as prioritising and sequencing the targets. This is especially important when considering Goal 16 that addresses governance, peace and security.

Key messages:

  • The issue is not whether Goal 16 can be measured but how to measure it in a way that encourages positive improvements in governance and the achievement of peace and security for development.
  • There is ample evidence that governance and peace and security are important factors for development across all countries – what remains less clear is what mechanisms are there for peace and security and what components of governance are important for sustainable development.
  • Goal 16 offers no guidance on mechanisms for peace and security and what components of governance are important for sustainable development. The language of  Goal 16 is inclined towards a certain ideological model of good governance.
  • The international community needs to take a step back to develop a better common understanding of targets under Goal 16 and how responsibilities for these targets are to be differentiated by country and at the global and national levels.
  • Africa’s proposed indicators for measuring Goal 16 at the national-level draw from the work of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
  • The APRM offers an excellent means to track local thinking and innovations in governance and security. The APRM process is a unique knowledge bank that can be used to examine changes in governance and security dynamics over time and across diverse cultural and social systems – if Goal 16 were left to the realm of numbers and statistics alone, we would miss this vital information. 

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Image courtesy of United Nations

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