Sustainable Development Goals


The  2030  Agenda  for  Sustainable  Development  was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. It is built around 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets that represent an ambitious plan for achieving sustainable development and serves as the basis for countries to shape their national policies and priorities. At the heart of the agenda is the recognition that true development must combine economic growth and poverty alleviation with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, while addressing climate change and protecting nature. Thus, the interlinked nature of the SDGs calls for an integrated approach to policy decisions. As the international statistical standard for measuring the environment and its relationship with the economy, the SEEA is well positioned to support integrated policies based on a better understanding of the interactions and trade-offs between the environment and economy.


Progress toward the 17 goals and 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda are monitored through 244 indicators, entailing the collection of substantial amounts of data. The UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) has encouraged the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), the body tasked with developing and implementing the global indicator framework for the 2030 Agenda, to consider existing standards and frameworks that can improve SDG monitoring, including the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA).  Recently, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), UN Environment and the UN Statistics Division brought a proposal on upgrading the status of Indicator 15.9.1 to the tenth meeting of the IAEG-SDGs, where the group agreed to the proposal and reclassified the indicator from Tier III to Tier II.


The United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA), an intergovernmental body established by the UNSC to provide overall vision, coordination, prioritization and direction in the field of environmental economic accounting and supporting statistics, has assessed that currently 40 indicators for nine Sustainable Development Goals can be informed by the SEEA. The SEEA is particularly well-suited for deriving ratio indicators that compare environmental and economic information. For more information on how the SEEA can be used for the 2030 Agenda and sustainable policies can be found in our publication, How Natural Capital Accounting Contributes to Integrated Policies for Sustainability (United Nations, 2020).