MWM letter to the Presidents of the General Assembly

Publication Date: 

Thursday, 26 June 2014 - 11:07am


Measure What Matters

On 20th June Measure What Matters wrote to the UN Presidents of the General Assembly to establish a mechanism to discuss and agree a coherent measurement framewwork for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. See letter below.


H.E. Mr. John W. Ashe
President of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations

H.E. Mr. Robert G. Aisi
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Papua New Guinea to the United Nations

H.E. Mr. Ib Petersen
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations

H.E. Dr. Richard Nduhuura
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations

20th June 2014

RE: Establishing a mechanism to discuss and agree a coherent measurement framework for the Post-2015 Development Agenda at different levels of implementation.

Your Excellencies,

Given your mandate to lead and oversee consultations on the modalities for the Post-2015 Summit and the associated preparatory process, we are writing to you to call for the inclusion of a specific mechanism to explore the issues of measurement and data alignment.

In particular, we are calling for the creation of a dedicated work strand within the process for Member States and stakeholders to discuss and map out a comprehensive and harmonised measurement framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order that they can be relevant and applicable at different levels of implementation – specifically for governments, for the private sector, and for local actors.

Our initiative, Measure What Matters, that brings together private sector, civil society, policy makers and academia, recognises that unless data and performance metrics are better aligned between the local, corporate and national levels, it will be difficult to track the progress or implement the ambitions of the SDGs.

While the Open Working Group (OWG) on SDGs has been leading the discussions on what the SDGs should address regarding priority focus areas and related targets, it is vital to ensure that these efforts are complimented by the institutions, organisations and people monitoring progress towards the framework’s objectives.

At the 45th session of the UN Statistical Commission earlier this year, the Friends of the Chair (FoC) Group on Broader Measures of Progress was mandated to develop an implementation framework for the monitoring and measurement of the Post-2015 Development Agenda (1). In this regard, we would hope that the recommendations of the FoC Group would become the starting point for further discussions on this topic under the measurement modality we are suggesting, which all Member States and stakeholders could then build upon. Similarly, the recent General Assembly Interactive Dialogue on Elements for an Accountability Framework for the Post-2015 Development Agenda (2) saw Member States and other participants recognise the importance of a data-driven monitoring system, requiring new partnerships built on transparency, mutual respect and accountability – something which we hope you will provide adequate space to develop during the new intergovernmental process.

In line with the recognition from Member States at Rio+20 that there is a need for more integrated information on sustainable development (3), the Measure What Matters initiative aims to bring greater alignment between corporate, national and global actors measuring progress on sustainable development. Measure What Matters sees the Post-2015 Development Agenda as the ideal opportunity to achieve this vision and is currently contributing to the debate by identifying overlaps between different indicator sets – for example thematic areas such as water, inequality, and infrastructure – across governments, businesses and international organisations. For the Measure What Matters recommendations on harmonisation, as well as those from other voices focused on the measurement and data debate to be utilised, however, a mechanism for their further discussion and elaboration by all stakeholders is required in the Post-2015 process going forward.

Measure What Matters is working closely with the UN DESA Statistical Division on the harmonisation of measurement practices, recently co-hosting an event on this topic. The roundtable brought together government representatives from statistical offices in Australia, Brazil, France, Japan, and the Netherlands, along representatives of Pepsico US, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, UNDP, ESCAP, UN Global Compact, and a number of international civil society organisations, which all agreed on the value of increasing the harmonisation of national, global and private sector measurement practices. The event also saw strong support for holding a larger conference to continue these discussions with a wider audience in late 2014. It is hoped that this will provide further important inputs for Member States to consider when negotiating the design of the Post-2015 Development Agenda – hopefully via a specific segment on measurement and data alignment as we suggest.

We would welcome the opportunity to help define a modality for the discussion of issues related to measurement during the Post-2015 Summit and preparatory process. To that end, we very much look forward to continuing this discussion in the coming weeks should you, or any appropriate members of your teams, be able to meet with us.

Yours sincerely,
Measure What Matters Partners:

Green Economy Coalition logo

International Institute for Environment and Development

International Institute for Environment and Development

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1 This is to take place ‘in partnership and coordination with countries, regional and international organizations, as well as other stakeholders and donors that can support implementation.’, p.11.
3 The Future We Want, paragraph 251, page 47.

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