OECD Study: Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets 2019

The OECD Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets Study aims to help member countries assess where they stand now and to identify the areas where additional effort is required in order to achieve the goals. It also sets out the statistical agenda – showing how much we do not yet know, and how this might impact both the achievement of the SDGs, and decisions about what to prioritise across this vast agenda.

The results of the Study indicate that OECD countries are, on average, closest to achieving targets such as access to basic amenities (e.g. energy, information and communication technologies, and modern education facilities); maternal, infant and neonatal mortality rates; statistical capacity; public access to information; and conservation of coastal areas. They are furthest away from several targets related to inequalities (e.g. relative income poverty, disparities in education, women’s participation and leadership); healthy behaviours (tobacco use and malnutrition); certain educational and employment outcomes (secondary education; adult numeracy skills; share of youth not education, employment or training); and violence and safety (e.g. violence against women; feelings of safety).

When aggregated at the Goal level, the Study finds that OECD countries are on average closest to achieving goals on Energy, Cities and Climate (goals 7, 11 and 13) and goals relating to Planet (Water, 6; Sustainable Production, 12; Climate, 13; Oceans, 14; and Biodiversity, 15). They are furthest from reaching goals related to inclusiveness, such as Gender Equality and Reducing Inequality (goals 5 and 10), with Food and Institutions (goals 2 and 16) also areas of weaker performance. However, it is important to underscore that this assessment is based only on what can be measured at present. Data coverage is poorest on some of the planet-related goals, such as Oceans and Sustainable Production, and best in relation to goals on Health and Education. An analysis of the uncertainty created by these data gaps suggests that results could change substantially if a more complete data set were available.

Since 2015, countries around the world have been translating the SDGs into national plans and policies, and designing national implementation strategies and monitoring systems. This Study aims to support these processes, providing a high-level overview of performance that helps countries identify their key strengths and weaknesses across the goals and targets from an international comparative perspective. The assessment is based on the UN official list of SDG indicators and in accordance with the level of ambition agreed by Member States when setting the 2030 Agenda. The Study highlights critical data gaps that need to be addressed in order to provide a more complete picture of where countries stand. These data gaps are unevenly distributed across the goals and targets, and place important limits on the conclusions that can be drawn so far.


Based on 122 available indicators allowing a coverage of 97 of the 169 SDG targets, Greece has currently achieved 10 of the 2030 targets, and some of the remaining distances to targets are small. For example, Greece has already achieved the targets on neonatal, infant and maternal mortality (targets 3.1 and 3.2), Health and safety of employees and access to electricity (targets 8.8 and 7.1). However, some challenges remain; Greece is still very far from meeting some 11% of the targets. These include tobacco consumption, which is the highest rate in the OECD at 27% of the population who are daily smokers, lifelong education and unemployment rate (targets 3.a, 4.3 and 8.5).

Relative to the OECD average, Greece outperforms on Energy (goal 7). Conversely, Greece is relatively further away on goals such as Poverty Eradication, Education, Gender Equality, Oceans, Economy and Implementation (goals 1, 4, 5, 14, 8 and 17). However, considerable effort by the international statistical community will be key to fill the data gaps and allow a more accurate assessment. For example, if missing data were available on Sustainable Production, Oceans, Reducing Inequality and Cities (goals 12, 14, 10 and 11), Greece’s performance on Planet and Prosperity could change from current assessments.

More information: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/development/measuring-distance-to-the-sdg-targets-2019_a8caf3fa-e

Scroll to Top