Welcome to the first edition of UNCTAD’s SDG Pulse – UNCTAD’s new annual statistical publication reporting on developments relating to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations, 2015) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The purpose of this report is to: provide an update on the evolution of a selection of official SDG indicators and complementary data and statistics; provide progress reports on the development of new concepts and methodologies for Tier III indicator; and to also showcase, beyond the perspective of the formal SDG indicators, how UNCTAD is contributing to the implementation of 2030 Agenda. The report will also investigate thematic issues of relevance to 2030 Agenda – this year, the report discusses some measurement issues regarding inequality.

The report is organized by four broad categories:


The report can be read by theme. Here the indicators are sub-divided across the three themes to which UNCTADs work contributes: multilateralism for trade & development; productive growth; and structural transformation. Through this thematic lens, a wide range of indicators are presented and issues discussed, including: recent trends in trade, including barriers to trade, and policies to promote trade; investment, transport infrastructure, ICT for sustainable development, and debt sustainability; and industry and high value-added and sustainability.


The SDG indicators presented in this report are also categorised by goal. The goals and indicators selected reflect UNCTAD’s broad mandate of economic and sustainable development. In some cases, UNCTAD is the custodian or co-custodian agency for the indicator. These indicators are supplemented with other complementary indicators. The SDG indicators presented in this report are:

Goal 2Goal 8Goal 9Goal 10Goal 12Goal 16Goal 17

Goal 2: Zero hunger

  • Indicator 2.a.2: Total official international support to agriculture
  • Indicator 2.b.1: Agricultural export subsidies
  • Indicator 2.c.1: Indicator of food price anomalies

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

  • Indicator 8.9.1: Tourism direct GDP
  • Indicator 8.a.1: Aid for Trade commitments and disbursements

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

  • Indicator 9.1.2: Passenger and freight volumes, by mode of transport
  • Indicator 9.2.1: Manufacturing value added
  • Indicator 9.4.1: CO2 emission per unit of value added
  • Indicator 9.5.1: Research and development expenditure
  • Indicator 9.5.2: Researchers relative to population
  • Indicator 9.a.1: Total official international support to infrastructure
  • Indicator 9.b.1: Proportion of medium and high-tech industry value added
  • Indicator 9.c.1: Proportion of population covered by a mobile network

Goal 10: Reduce inequality

  • Indicator 10.a.1: Proportion of tariff lines with zero-tariff*
  • Indicator 10.b.1: Total resource flows for development

Goal 12: Responsible consumption & production

  • Indicator 12.6.1: Number of companies publishing sustainability reports*

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

  • Indicator 16.4.1: Total value of inward and outward illicit financial flows*

Goal 17: Partnership for the goals

  • Indicator 17.3.1: FDI, ODA and South-South Cooperation*
  • Indicator 17.4.1: Debt service as a share of exports of goods and services
  • Indicator 17.5.1: Implement investment promotion regimes for LDCs*
  • Indicator 17.6.2: Fixed Internet broadband subscriptions
  • Indicator 17.8.1: Proportion of individuals using the Internet
  • Indicator 17.10.1: Worldwide weighted tariff-average*
  • Indicator 17.11.1 Developing countries and LDCs’ share of global exports*
  • Indicator 17.12.1: Tariffs faced by developing countries, LDCs and SIDS*
UNCTAD in Action

The SDG indicators, which are essentially performance metrics, do not give a comprehensive picture of development. A lot of other data and statistics are required to fully understand the breath of activities underway. UNCTAD runs a wide-ranging capacity development programme. This report presents some case studies from UNCTAD’s development programme from a statistical perspective – presenting UNCTAD’s activities and successes in hard numbers. These case studies are important as they also illustrate the Results Based Management approach being adopted by UNCTAD – helping us to improve our responsiveness and accountability to member states.

In Focus

Every year, the SDG Pulse will highlight a specific aspect of the 2030 Agenda and discuss this issue from the slant or perspective of statistics. For this first edition, some aspects of inequality are discussed, including global economic and income inequalities, and also an emerging new dimension for inequality in a data driven world – access to data.


* Indicators for which UNCTAD is a custodian or co-custodian agency.


United Nations (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A/RES/70/1. New York. 21 October.

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