In order to track the progress made on SDG 7, the International Energy Agency (IEA) in partnership with 20 partner agencies in the energy space (including five United Nations Regional Economic Commissions – ECLAC, ESCAP, ESCWA, UNECA, UNECE) produce the Global Tracking Framework (GTF). ‘Global Tracking Framework 2017 – Progress Toward Sustainable Energy’ is the latest report, accessed best through this interactive website version. Quite simply, the GTF registers progress on energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy across nations.
GTF 2017 states, “only 91 percent of the world will have electricity access in 2030, while only 72 percent will have access to clean cooking. Improvements in energy intensity are also projected to fall short of the 2030 goal while the share of renewables will only reach 21 percent by that time”.
While global as well as regional performance has been faltering, the very task of collecting, analysing, tracking, and reporting new data and indicators has its own set of challenges. Globally, regionally, and nationally, SDG 7 can be best assessed through examining the progress made to meet its three targets, against their individual set of indicators. At the Global SDG 7 Conference in Bangkok, World Bank’s Vivien Foster highlighted a number of challenges faced while creating, compiling, and analysing the GTF. These challenges can be broadly classified as, time-frame, logistical, indicators and sub indicator definitions, and methodological harmonisation based challenges. Each of these have been described below.
The GTF lags by a few years in its reviews. The 2017 GTF reports with data from the year 2014. Thus, increasing the response time by an inadvertent 3 years.
Since data is collected from countries and not by UN agencies directly, GTF relies on household surveys and national census data. Though reliable, reliance on national data infrastructure is time consuming as it is normally not collected annually.
In addition, with ICT-based data solutions being used globally, data collection techniques for GTF remain outdated. This calls for an improvement in data gathering and reporting infrastructure.
Since GTF relies on country-level data, the methodology followed by each country often differs, causing significant methodological differences. Since these statistics and indicators need to be compared, all data needs to undergo the time consuming process of methodological harmonisation.
Indicators and sub-indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals continue to have inconsistent and ambiguous definitions. This leads to differences in interpretation, and inconsistencies in data collection across nations. These indicators and sub-indicators need to be further refined (and therefore require sub-definitions and deeper data collection efforts).
Overlaps with other SDGs results in data duplication or data inconsistencies. In addition to creating new indicators that lie at the nexus of multiple SDGs, the analytical capacity of the different interactions of data needs to be strengthened.
Learn more about the recommendations, indicators and data for sustainable energy.
This blog-post is a part of the series #SDG7Conference covering the United Nations’ Global SDG 7 Review in Bangkok, Thailand. In case you have a set of recommendation or would like to share your personal views and opinions, please feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Atishay Mathur is a TEDx Speaker and works on Governance and Impact Assessment at the United Nations House in Scotland. He was recently awarded an MSc in International Development (with Distinction) from the University of Edinburgh. He is also a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the World Bank and IMF at the UK Parliament, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Local Government at the UK Parliament, the Cross Party Group on International Development at the Scottish Parliament and the Sustainable Development Goals Network in Scotland.