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Labour statistics for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its accompanying monitoring framework has major implications for national statistical systems worldwide as they face the complex task of producing reliable, consistent and comparable statistics for an increasing number of goals and targets. The MDGs had 8 Goals, 21 targets and 60 indicators whereas the SDGs have 17 Goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators.

As a custodian agency, the ILO reports to the UN data for 14 SDG indicators, grouped under 5 of the 17 Goals. Moreover, the ILO’s role in strengthening countries’ capacity for producing high-quality labour statistics has become even more crucial.

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What are the SDGs?

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. The 17 SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. They cover a broad range of social and economic development issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, the environment and social justice, with a focus on the most vulnerable and a commitment that “no one will be left behind.”

The role of decent work

Goal 8, which aims to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”, highlights the importance of decent work in achieving sustainable development.

The role of statistics

The role of national statistical offices (NSOs)

High quality data (i.e., reliable, timely, consistent and comparable data) are required in order to measure and monitor progress towards the SDGs. NSOs play a pivotal role in the areas of data collection, coordination, reporting and validation of statistics for the SDGs. It is the responsibility of NSOs to provide statistics to international agencies such as the ILO to support the measurement of progress on SDGs. This includes identifying appropriate data sources and methodologies to produce the SDG indicators.

The role of the ILO Department of Statistics

The ILO contributes to five of 17 Goals. As custodian for 14 SDG indicators, the ILO is responsible for:

  • Compiling national statistics from data producers
  • Verifying country data and metadata and ensuring international comparability
  • Developing international standards and methods for Tier 3 indicators
  • Estimating global and regional aggregates
  • Analysing data and identifying data gaps and key trends
  • Reporting data and metadata to the UN annually and contributing to SDG progress reports
  • Strengthening national capacity for producing high-quality data on SDG labour indicators

The ILO Department of Statistics is the focal point for all inputs provided to the UN Statistics Division, with key contributions from other departments and field offices.


© Marcel Crozet / ILO

About SDG indicator 8.8.2

This page describes the methodology for SDG indicator 8.8.2, which measures the level of national compliance with freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining for all ILO member states.

Decent Work and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Guidebook on SDG Labour Market Indicators

This Guidebook provides a detailed overview of the labour market indicators included in the Sustainable Development Goals Global Indicator Framework. It is intended to serve as a manual of best practices for calculating and interpreting the SDG labour market indicators, with a view to monitoring progress made at the national and international levels towards the achievement of the SDGs.


Note: Many publications are available only in English. If available in other languages, a new page will open displaying the options on the right. 

Time to Act for SDG 8 : Integrating Decent Work, Sustained Growth and Environmental Integrity

The report seeks to improve understanding of SDG 8 at the empirical, conceptual and policy levels by: (a) charting empirical progress towards the 12 targets under SDG 8 and comparing performance across country income groups; (b) developing a conceptual mapping of dynamic interlinkages between SDG 8 targets and specific targets under other SDGs, and exploring on that basis major patterns of achievement in the various world regions; and (c) describing a positive spiral of policy interventions and institutional support that can enable countries to achieve SDG 8 by 2030.

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