Brazil’s leadership in indicators to advance SDG implementation worldwide

The implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals will require a solid framework of indicators to inform policy making at all levels of government, monitor progress and ensure accountability of all players, including the private sector and civil society organizations. The accurate use of the sustainable development indicators will represent a major factor of success in the years to come for all countries – the emerging economies, developing countries, industrialized nations and also the least developed countries.  Access to high-quality, disaggregated data is a powerful tool in the hands of decision makers in cities, states and capitals to plan and implement sustainable development policies and programmes. Likewise, transparent access to development data with well-understood indicators will represent a very powerful tool to citizens, civil society organizations and the media to monitor progress, demand action and join efforts to deliver on the 2030 Agenda.

Brazil, the host of Eco-92 and Rio +20, assumed a major leadership role in convening dialogue, building bridges and fostering action on the definition of the indicators that will guide the global development efforts for the next 15 years. Brazil’s leadership and its contributions to SDG implementation worldwide were discussed on 26 April 2016, when representatives from 45 different government institutions convened in a meeting co-organized by Brazil’s Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) and the UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre) and hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brasilia.

The Brazilian strength in the SDG indicators was favoured by the existence of an 80-year long national institution with international recognition: IBGE. The Brazilian Institute represented the Mercosur countries and Chile in the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), mandated  by the General Assembly with the task of developing the SDG indicator framework at the global level. Choosing which indicators should be part of the SDG framework was not, however, an easy task. It required coordination among all 193 Member States of the United Nations and the agreement of policy makers, statisticians, economists, scientists and civil society organizations worldwide.

Brazil’s leadership role – and global responsibility – was significantly strengthened when the UN Statistical Commission elected Brazil as its new chair. Consisting of representatives of 24 Member States, the Statistical Commission is a subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), electing its two-year term chair via consultations processes with national institutes and experts. It is the first time Brazil will chair this UN Commission, through the President of IBGE, Mrs. Wasmália Bivar, who is the first Latin American woman to hold the position.

The recent Brasilia meeting on SDG indicators discussed the country’s leadership in forging a multilateral consensus on the indicators, and, particularly, its growing responsibilities as a global leader in the 2030 Agenda. The Brazilian global stance is enhanced by the country’s remarkable successes in delivering the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with innovative poverty and inequality reduction policies that inspired action in the Global South, as reported in the national MDG reports. Brazil has cut malnutrition by 82% and took over 22 million people out of extreme poverty. Multidimensional poverty was also reduced from 8.3% of the population in 2002 to 1.1% in 2013.

Some highlights from the Brasilia meeting are given below:

“The SDG implementation will require the consideration of the regional, national and global dimensions in an integrated way, since environmental phenomena do not respect the political and administrative borders. The indicators will make it possible to guide and assess the environmental, social and economic outcomes of public policy interventions.”

Mrs. Wasmália Bivar, President of IBGE and Chair of the UN Statistical Commission 

“Brazil’s innovative approaches to the MDG implementation, such as the national localization/municipal strategy, have inspired recommendations by the United Nations to the global community and national governments worldwide”.

Counselor Mario Mottin, Chief of the General Coordination Office for Sustainable Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“The credibility built by our national statistics institute in its 80 years of history is now supporting the global community to bring together credible indicators to achieve the SDGs”.

Francisco Gaetani, Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management

“The Agenda 2030 represents a paradigm shift in the relation between national governments and the international community as well as in the relation between human beings and the environment.”


“Equity is at the core of sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda will require a fairer allocation of the benefits of development. Its implementation will represent renewed hope for everyone. Our challenge is now to transform the SDGs into a reality for all”.

Ambassador José Antonio Marcondes de Carvalho, Under-Secretary-General for environment, energy, science and technology at the Ministry of External Relations

“Brazil’s MDG commitments and actions were some of the boldest worldwide, going well beyond the agenda that was agreed in the Millennium Declaration. Brazil can now do the same thing with the SDGs. Considering the country’s consolidated capabilities, skills and experience, the key player to go beyond the SDGs will be now the civil society”.

Romulo Paes de Sousa, Director of RIO+ Centre

From Rio+ 20 to Agenda 2030  

In 2012, Rio de Janeiro hosted the one of the most important events in the history of the United Nations, the Rio +20 Conference, consolidating Brazil’s global stance in sustainable development. Rio+20 launched the idea and the discussions on the SDGs, the overarching pillar of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which came into effect on the 1st of January 2016 after being agreed upon by all 193 Member States of the United Nations during the 70th Session of the General Assembly on 25 September 2015.

The SDGs represent the most comprehensive – and boldest – global effort to improve the well-being and resilience of people in the history of humankind. The 2030 Agenda is a plan of action for the people, planet and prosperity to be implemented by all UN Member States as a pathway to sustainable development, improving the lives of the current generations without hampering the right for development of the future generations. The 17 SDGs – or Global Goals - are the most tangible and concrete component of the 2030 Agenda: a detailed roadmap to guide action on the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic – social - environmental) by all countries until the 2030 deadline.

The challenges ahead of Brazil, the UN and the new 2030 Agenda are, however, complex and will required continuous engagement and global leadership. Some of the key issues are now related to data disaggregation, to ensure that the SDG indicators cover all population groups and territories; defining the global reporting mechanisms that will ensure accountability; and adapting the global indicators to the national circumstances of each of the 193 Member States, with widespread use by all levels of government.

Brasilia SDG indicators meeting in the media