Where to start with the SDGs?

Article/Op-Ed in OECD
July 20, 2017

Jeff Leitner wrote about the SDGs in Order Collaboration between New America, Greenhouse and the OECD.

Trying to work out how to get started in tackling the SDGs was the aim of a recent collaboration between New AmericaGreenHouse (a Chicago social innovation group) and the OECD. We wanted to put the SDGs in order – finding the best, most logical sequence in which to address them.
To do this, we surveyed 85 experts from think tanks, government and private institutions, the World Bank, the OECD, universities, and foundations and civil society organisations. Before we could begin, however, we had to make sense of the SDG targets themselves. Some of these clearly bear the scars of a long process of consultation and amendment and are almost comically convoluted. To obtain clear judgments from our respondents, we realised we had to break the SDG targets down to their essentials.
This was a delicate process, but not as hard as we first expected. We started by excluding targets that were really policies or other “means of implementation” and focusing only on true objectives. We next extracted the core aim of each target, leaving out “frills” such as who should be involved and how and by when it should be done.
In the end, we arrived at 117 clear and straightforward targets that could be put in order. Respondents were then asked a simple question: Which 20 of these 117 should be tackled as part of a multi-year effort to fulfil all of the SDGs? We also asked the experts what criteria they used to arrive at their conclusions.