In September 2000, at the UN Headquarters in New York, countries of the world agreed to adopt eight (8) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce extreme poverty by 2015. These goals aimed to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability, and build global partnerships for development.

Two years later, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa, member states reaffirmed their commitments and enhanced the MDGs with a focus on multilateral partnerships. In 2012, an outcome document entitled ‘The Future We Want’ highlighted the process to build further on the foundation of the MDGs as well as other measures for sustainable development. The process culminated in 2015 with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which featured seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people. They are a to-do list for people and the planet, and a blueprint for success.” – UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

While not all of the MDGs were met, progress had been made at different stages across the globe. This uneven process gave rise to the targeted efforts of the SDGs; zero poverty, zero hunger, good health, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and affordable clean energy, decent work and economic growth, innovation, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities, responsible consumption, climate action, conserve oceans and land, and partnerships to achieve the goals.

The SDGs serve as a yardstick of measurement for the advancement of global development goals. Achieving the SDGs have been more challenging for some countries than others due to their small size, narrow resource base, exposure and vulnerability to natural disasters as well as external economic shocks.       

These challenges which impair the growth and development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) -most countries in the Caribbean- were illustrated at the Global Conference held in Barbados in 1994. It resulted in a program called the Barbados Program of Action for Small Island Developing States. This program has been reviewed and revamped over time to its present manifestation as the SID Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway. In 2017, Chairman of the United Nations Small Island Developing States and Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell noted monitoring and evaluation of policies for the achievement of the SDGs relies on the capacity of a country’s national statistical systems. Poor or underdeveloped statistical systems will not be able to meet the demands for the types, quality and ranges of data required while reporting on the SDGs.

“The SDGs are ambitious, not just to achieve, but to measure. For small countries, there is a dire need to expand the range and types of data being measured to accommodate the monitoring demands of this framework. Measuring change in the SDGs requires even more and better data systems.” – Dr. Keith Mitchell, Chairman of the United Nations Small Island Developing States.

Due to the challenges faced by Caribbean countries in pursuing sustainable development, it was decided that critical areas of importance must be prioritized within the broader framework of the SDGs as it related to the Caribbean region. Twelve of the seventeen SDGs were chosen:

  • Zero hunger
  • Good health & well being
  • Quality education
  • Gender equality
  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Decent work and economic growth
  • Industry, innovation & infrastructure
  • Reduced inequalities
  • Climate action
  • Life below water
  • Peace, justice and strong institutions
  • Partnerships for the Goals

Vision 2030 is Trinidad and Tobago’s national economic, social and environmental development plan that integrates and prioritizes the 17 SDGs within the national goals. It is intended to further progress towards the achievement of the SDGs while meeting national developmental needs.

Data produced through surveys and assessments administered by the Central Statistical Office can be used as tools to measure and evaluate the impact of SDG-related government policies.

The Continuous Sample Survey of the Population (CSSP) data has been used to evaluate the changes in the environment, education, and sustainable practices. The Continuous Sample Survey of Establishments (CSSE) looks at practices within industries. It is a major factor in the calculation of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) have been used as a major source of data on SDG indicators in the nation with particular reference to women and children. Trinidad and Tobago presented its first Voluntary National Review on Sustainable Development at the United Nations (UN) High Level Forum on Sustainable Development. This is the foundation of the follow-up and review framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Inter Agency and Expert Group on SDGs was established by the UN Statistical Commission to develop an indicator framework for the monitoring of goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Trinidad and Tobago is one of only two Caribbean members of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal.

Author: Central Statistical Office 

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