Mind the gap? A comparison of international and national targets for the SDG agenda

Research reports and studies
June 2015
Andrew Scott, Paula Lucci, with Tom Berliner

The stretch required for low-income countries (LICs) to achieve SDG targets is generally greater than for middle-income and high-income countries (MICs and HICs). The gaps identified indicate where most work is needed to alter political priorities in order to realise the SDGs.

  • For LICs, the biggest gaps identified were for extreme poverty, pre-primary and secondary education, maternal mortality, drinking water and sanitation, and electricity access. 
  • Amongst MICs, the water and sanitation and energy targets will require the greatest stretch. 
  • Six of the 13 indicators were not relevant to HICs, as they had already met or exceeded SDG targets. However, HICs presented the largest gap between national and global ambition on the renewable energy target.

Most hard work will be needed in areas that are highly politically contentious (climate policy) or expensive (secondary education, electricity and sanitation). This has implications for how governments structure a review process and how resources are mobilised for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

The report also found a great deal of variation in the approach to measuring targets at the national level. A standardised approach would make comparisons easier and hold governments more readily to account.