Research highlight

Assessing progress towards sustainable development over space and time


January 2, 2020

China’s progress towards achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals is assessed in an analysis published in Nature. Based on a score representing the country’s overall performance from 2000 to 2015, the results indicate that China has improved its sustainability at a national and provincial level. However, the scores for four individual goals declined during that time.

193 countries have committed to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, there is currently no systematic assessment of the progress being made to achieve them. Jianguo Liu and colleagues developed methods to quantify progress towards the SDGs and performed an analysis of China’s progress. By using data from 119 SDG indicators from 2000 to 2015, the authors calculated an SDG index score (out of 100), which is comprised of individual scores for all 17 SDGs and represents China’s overall performance. They found that China’s SDG index score increased from 45.5 in 2000 to 55.4 in 2015 and an increase was also seen in each province. At the national level, the scores for 13 of the 17 SDGs improved over this period, although four declined: SDG 14 (life below water), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 5 (achieve gender equality) and SDG 13 (climate action).

The authors suggest that the methods used in this study could help China and other countries to monitor their progress towards meeting these goals.

doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1846-3

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