While the negotiation over the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was a hotly contested political process, the selection of indicators and the generation of data is supposedly a technocratic process. Yet the choice of indicators, and the definition and methodologies of data collection can shape the way that the goals are interpreted. Indicators can in turn shape narratives that frame the policy discourse. Through these processes, SDGs – and global goals in general – can have unintended consequences that distort policy priorities and thinking.
In this context the aim of this workshop was to analyze the political economy of the formulation of the 2030 Agenda's Sustainable Development Goals, with particular attention to the selection and use of indicators. Together with our partners, The New School, UNDP and the University of Oslo, FES New York was pleased to co-host this event and to support this independent research initiative involving 15 researchers from around the world.