This week Member States meet again in New York to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically on “follow-up and review” - how will we collectively ensure we achieve the goals, see where we are failing, who is being left behind, and hold duty-bearers accountable. Here we identify the key issues at stake and our recommendations.
The post 2015 agenda should be monitored and evaluated not just by governments but by people themselves - including young people. Without a clear role or model for citizen and civil society participation in accountability mechanisms for the SDGs, there is a significant risk that this agenda, like the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), will happen to citizens - furthering disempowering impoverished communities. There will be less incentive for decision makers to deliver their commitments, and ultimately these goals will not be realised.
For the Post-2015 agenda to go beyond the MDGs and fulfil the promise of ambitious and transformative change that leaves no one behind, we need robust and inclusive accountability mechanisms underpinning all seventeen goals. This will encourage credibility, ownership and effectiveness of the post-2015 agenda from all stakeholders. We support the call for a monitoring and accountability framework, spanning from the local to the global levels, that is people-centred, inclusive, transparent and participatory.
We want to see global monitoring and accountability framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that makes specific provision for youth leadership, and citizen partnership, and is supported by open and verified citizen-generated data.
WHAT IS AT STAKE: There are 1.8 billion young women and men globally, with 90% of 10-24 years olds living in developing countries. It is young people’s right to be involved in decisions that affect their lives, and they have unique perspectives and experiences that are crucial to understanding the impact of SDG implementation, and providing solutions to improve outcomes. Young people have demonstrated the ability and willingness to engage in the design of the SDGs - 58% of respondents to the MyWorld survey are aged 16-30 online, and young women and men have engaged with the High Level Panel, through to the Open Working Group. Youth should not be excluded when things get ‘technical.’
There are examples and pilots of youth-led accountability programmes that the SDG accountability framework should draw on and learn from to ensure youth-led and youth-inclusive participatory monitoring and accountability. If youth are not meaningfully involved in all stages of development, including accountability and review, they risk being left behind with policies that do not cater to their unique needs and experiences.
WHAT IS AT STAKE? We need an accountability framework that is participatory and links different review and feedback mechanisms, this requires a thought-through accountability architecture that clearly links and communicates the local to the global - allowing space and voice to the most marginalised.
WHAT IS AT STAKE: The data revolution, the rapid increase of new forms of data, their proliferation, and their usage, is well underway; businesses, public institutions and many citizens are interacting with data in new and interesting ways. However, there are and growing inequalities in access to data and information and in the ability to use it. Low quality data, the inaccessibly of data and low capacity of national statistical services has had a significant negative impact on the ability of states to get a clear understanding of local challenges, measure the impact of developmental initiatives and achieve the MDGs. Without this it is hard to understand who is being left behind and effectively review programmes.
If the data revolution for the SDGs does not engage adequately with civil society and citizens, there is a danger that narrow, technical perspectives on the data revolution will prevail; reinforcing inequalities in data engagement and resulting in improved data that has little relevance to people’s lived experiences and fails to be transformative, leaving millions behind. Directing energy and resources into a data revolution that is genuinely inclusive is key to review and accountability.
WHAT IS AT STAKE: Data on youth is scarce. The data that exists is of questionable quality and generally inaccessible to those making decisions about young people and to young people themselves. Youthpolicy.org reports that in its most recent cycle of producing country by country factsheets it found that; for 17 countries (49%), there is no data on the budget of the youth ministry; for 16 countries (46%) there is no data on unemployment rates of young people; for 15 countries (43%), there is no data on the prevalence of HIV among young people.
A critique of the MDGs has been their focus on national averages and global aggregates as measures of progress. This has sometimes masked slow or stagnant progress among the worst-off sections of societies and growing disparities at subnational levels. Though there have been historic advances on aggregate towards some of the MDGs, there remain many millions of people, such as young people or other marginalized groups, “who have been rendered effectively invisible to policy-makers by the dominant use of averages and aggregates.” For the SDGs data will need to be disaggregated and published in a timely fashion.
We need to learn from MDGs and design an SDG indicator framework that is fit for purpose and can meaningfully monitor the progress of the SDGs, this means:
 Including the Transparency Accountability & Participation Network: People-Centred Post-2015 Review & Accountability with Transparency and Citizen Participation at its Core, 2015; and Beyond 2015 “Measuring up to our ambition: Recommendations from Beyond 2015 on the Accountability, Monitoring and Review framework for the Post-2015 Agenda”, 2015.
 Sanga, Dimitri, “The Challenges of Monitoring and Reporting on the Millennium Development Goals in Africa by 2015 and Beyond”, The African Statistical Journal, Volume 12, May 2011.
 UNICEF, UNDP, UN Women, “Participatory Monitoring and Accountability - Critical Enablers for the Successful Implementation of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals”, March 2015.