Sustainable Development Goal 2: joining-up standards for ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture
SDG2 is an ambitious goal that combines the problems of hunger, food security and sustainable agriculture. It is perhaps not surprising that consultations on its content, led by the FAO, are ongoing and in February 2016 major changes are still being introduced. Ten of the fourteen indicators still lack either a clear methodology or easily available data to support them.
As discussed in our recent paper, creating new indicators can be a challenging exercise. In addition to the scientific rationale for their selection, indicators should ideally have a ‘rear-view mirror’: available historical data coverage to provide a credible baseline. This is also important in that many indicators suffer from incomplete datasets that require gaps to be filled with estimates based on statistical modelling: the more data points available, the better the model and the better the estimated values. Furthermore, indicators require clear, credible and peer-reviewed methodologies for data collection and analysis.
SDG2 also highlights another challenge facing the architects of new monitoring systems: how to provide simple solutions to complex and disputed problems. The case in point here is food security, which is measured through food balance sheets (that show the availability of food in a country) and through Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) surveys (that measure insecurity through the eyes of a person who suffers from it). We argue that a standards-approach (with no matching expertise in food security) is sufficient to conclude that the selected indicators do not do justice to the target.
The ongoing lack of methodology or consistent baseline for six of the indicators has led us to search existing monitoring standards for potential candidates (see Table 2). For two of the indicators currently lacking any methodology we find at least three potential candidates.
The success of the SDGs depends not only on monitoring their progress but also on ensuring that there is sufficient financing available to meet targets. Are international donors matching the targets? Are domestic resources being allocated similarly? The first question can be answered by assessing the compatibility of the purpose codes used by the OECD DAC CRS, the second by the COFOG. The mapping between SDG2 and CRS codes, however, highlights the absence of specific one-to-one relationships between targets and CRS codes. The only possible matching is done based on a broad relationship to sub-sector definitions within such general sectors as ’basic health’ or ‘agriculture’. A similar problem is encountered when mapping to COFOG.