An unexpected abundance of acronyms seems to be one of the traits of the UN. Having worked at the organization for (too) many years helped corroborate this fact. Yes, the UN is not the only entity with such a trait, not by a long shot. However, the UN has formal global scope and thus acronyms rapidly spread around the world, some getting quick translations into local languages thus adding more to the growing list. The MDGs and their recent transition to SDGs are perhaps a good example.
Two years ago, UN country members agreed to replace the M in MDGs with an S (s as in sustainable). This was complemented by a two-fold “inflationary” process. First, and unlike the MDGs, the SGDs became universal, applicable to all countries, from the super-rich to the poorest. By 2030, most if not all nations are expected to achieve such goals. Second, the number of goals, targets, and indicators grew substantially: The SDGs comprise 17 goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators.1 9 indicators are used more than once for different targets thus increasing the total to 244 indicators. Not surprisingly, the SDGs cover plenty of ground regarding thematic areas and sectors.
The official list of the latest version of the indicators is here. The list is offered in two formats. I opted for the data presented in spreadsheet format. The SHA-256 hash for this file is
As expected, the words sustainable and development take top honors, followed by developed and developing which refer to countries. Technology is also somewhat prominent, but it is more significant than ICTs – more acronyms to ensure consistency throughout!
This was the easy bit. Keeping track of so many targets and indicators in countries where development gaps are wide will undoubtedly prove to be challenging – in addition to having to implement and manage the various goals and targets.