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STATEMENT DELIVERED BY ITALY AT THE 3RD SESSION OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL NEGOTIATIONS ON THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND TARGETS (March 24, 2015) 

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

We thank you, the President of the UN Statistical Commission and the other statisticians for providing the opportunity to have this exchange of views on indicators.

In particular, we thank the Statisticians for the technical report and we congratulate them for the work done given the ample spectrum of issues tackled in the limited time available.

Italy pays a special attention to building, strengthening and consolidating statistical capacity through programs of its development cooperation in partner countries and attaches great importance to indicators, as a key component of monitoring, review and accountability processes for the implementation of the post-2015 sustainable development Agenda. We consider this meeting as a first step towards the definition of a solid and effective framework of indicators capable to capture the Post 2015 challenges and to serve at the best the sustainable development goals and  targets.


Distinguished co-Facilitators,

we align ourselves with the statement made on behalf of the EU and its member-states and wish to add a couple of suggestions on our national capacity. The following remarks are to be considered preliminary. The survey launched by the UNSC had a very tight deadline and some positions are subject to possible variations due to ongoing consultations at national level.

The discussion we are having today is extremely interesting as it allows us to start envisioning a list of global universal indicators and how this global framework can best respond to the final political commitment that we will agree upon at the September Summit. It also allows to align two extremely important exercises, one more technical and one political, and better understand how we can move ahead in an effective manner.

The development of a robust and high quality framework of indicators needs time and should be done through a technical process. We support the ongoing work of the UN Statistical Commission, the road map and timetable to elaborate global indicators for the SDGs proposed by the Friends of the Chair and recently agreed by the Commission. We call for a broad participation in this process through the Inter-agency and expert group on SDG indicators (IAEG-SDG) and the High Level Group (HLG), and we think the National Statistical Institutes have a key role to play in this exercise.

On the substance of this initial report, we need to make sure that the framework of global indicators captures the integrated and transformative nature of the goals and targets. We have some concerns for the composite indices which, according to our national statistical experts, could be improved. To this end, it could be important to build on existing experiences such as the work done on specific sustainable development frameworks by the UNECE, OECD, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Inter Agency Expert Group on MDGs. These consolidated frameworks could be usefully taken into account.

We also believe there is a need to better respond to the Rio+20 mandate with particular regards to paragraph 38, on broader measures of progress to complement gross domestic product. (see for instance, target 17.19). It is important to ensure that the broader measures of progress are integrated across the global framework of indicators and that experiences developed at national level are taken into account (as stated in the last report of FOC on National Practices around the World).

We noted that many subjective indicators, that were included in the list developed by the Group of Friends of the Chair, were not considered in this initial proposal. Subjective indicators (such as Generalized trust, Trust in institutions, Life satisfaction and Evaluative well-being) have a proven capacity to grasp unobserved aspects of human wellbeing and we believe they could add innovative informative features to the monitoring framework.

Although we call for a limited number of indicators, we are also aware that the number is likely to be very high. The creation of “Goal headline” indicators (possibly one for each goal) aside the targets indicators could help us measuring progress on the implementation of the agenda. (and of “supporting” indicators could be a good way forward. Headline indicators should cover the most essential aspects. Their purpose would be to provide simple and clear information about progress towards internationally agreed policy objectives. The supporting indicators, on the other hand, should provide further information on more specific aspects. They would be valuable to achieve a deeper comprehension of each phenomenon.)

We notice from the initial findings of the Technical Report (out of 304 indicators: 28% need further discussion and 31% were considered difficult) that there is the need for further analysis and deeper discussion on the relevance of the indicators, as well as time to consider new indicators. Some of the proposed indicators need to be revisited, some are ambiguous in the definition, and others can’t measure the related target. All this work needs to be done at a technical level and needs time to unfold.


Co-Chairs,

As for the targets, we rely on your wise guidance as to what we should do and how we should proceed. Yesterday we have heard diverging views on how to deal with the technical proofing. We have also however clearly sensed that there is a strong common understanding that the proposal of the OWG needs to be preserved  as well as its important political balance and breadth, including the balance among the three dimensions of sustainable development. Italy strongly supports this common understanding and would like to highlight two further issues. 1. The need for goals and targets to be consistent with and not fall below UN standards and agreements. 2. The need to fill in the “Xs” as our Heads of State and Government will not be happy to subscribe to an incomplete document. The work of the UN Task team partially tackles some of these issues but, as a couple of delegations emphasized yesterday, some suggested amendments still fall below and are not consistent with UN standards and agreements. 


In conclusion, Co-Chairs,

speaking of implementation, in light of our experiences and best practices working in close contact with our partner countries, as well as in the UN’s Statistical Commission, and as yesterday debate has shown, it has become very evident that we need to continue to invest in capacity building of national statistical institutes.

Italy is therefore considering to increase in the near future our portfolio of projects in support of statistics both at the country and regional level.

Progress in statistics has been  moving slow in many countries and we are convinced that we need to invest more resources, especially in light of the application of the new agenda and the monitoring of the SDGs.

I thank you.