Measuring SDG16 Locally

Peace, justice, and strong institutions. Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG16) aims to achieve these objectives at all levels of society. The SDG16 Data Initiative released its 2017 Global Report, which included a progress report on SDG16, along with calls for incorporating more ‘people-centered’ metrics.

Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) is an organization that offers over 350 indicators and indices used to measure democracy. The SDG16 Data Initiative 2017 Global Report underscores the need to further incorporate these indicators in evaluating target 16.6 and 16.7 at the local level.

Target 16.6 aims to develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels. The SDG16 Data Initiative 2017 Global Report measures this goal using primary government expenditures as a proportion of original approved budget.  However, the report suggests, in the future, evaluating ‘people-centered accountability’ through, “[indicators] which relate to the ways that citizens, civil society, the media, and other public institutions are able to oversee and hold the government to account.”

V-Dem provides on index on accountability, in addition to indicators for civil liberty, civil society, and the media. Specifically, the accountability index includes metrics for vertical accountability, the extent to which citizens have the power to hold their government accountable. Similarly, the civil liberty, civil society, and media indicators evaluate government harassment, censorship, and direct consultation. Combined, these indicators illustrate a clearer picture of the way central and local institutions interact, and are held accountable at all levels.

Target 16.7 strives to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making at all levels. While the 2017 Global Report examined proportions of representation in public institutions and the amount of people who believe decision making in their country is inclusive and responsive, it also recommends future incorporation of localized measurements.

The report on Target 16.7 calls from enriched analysis on inclusive and representative decision making by, “…adding people’s perceptions and experiences of whether candidates are prevented from running; whether media coverage favors a particular party; and whether journalists provide balanced coverage.”

V-Dem offers informations on these indicators through their Elections and Media indices. Indicators 3.3 and 3.31 measure restrictions on candidates due to government intimidation or based on ethnicity, race, religion, or language. Under the media index, indicators 13.6 and 13.11 evaluate political bias and representative reporting in the media. These indicators will aid the SDG16 Data Initiative to measure the localization of Target 16.7 in future Global Reports.

It is important for the SDG16 Data Initiative to incorporate V-Dem indices and indicators into their Global Reports. V-Dem indicators allow for the analysis of SDG16 targets at the local level, and provide a better idea of where we stand in the process of localization. SDG16 must be met at all levels to truly achieve peace, justice, and strong institutions.


Featured image courtesy of AGORA.