NITI Aayog will rank Indian cities on the basis of their performance in achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) in an attempt to fuel competition on welfare goals such as eliminating hunger, reducing inequality and ensuring good health, well-being and access to affordable and clean energy.
The federal policy think tank already has an index of states’ performance on SDG parameters at the sub-national level, and the new index under development is expected to drive competition further down among municipal corporations and other local bodies. “Yes, NITI Aayog is working on SDG localization at the level of cities. There is a need to measure the progress made by every city. The SDG Urban Index is a progress-monitoring tool at the urban local body level. We would be launching a dashboard on the same on 23 November,” NITI Aayog said in a statement in response to an emailed query from Mint. “The index and the dashboard are the next steps in SDG localization. The index framework consists of 56 urban local bodies and 77 indicators,” the statement said.
The move comes at a time the pandemic has exposed gaping holes in the social infrastructure in cities where thousands of migrant workers faced hardships during the lockdowns.
Besides, the pandemic has proven to be a setback for sustainable development everywhere due to increased poverty and unemployment, according to the 2021 SDG report of the UN released in June.
At the sub-national level in India, the economic development trajectory, access to healthcare and the extent of containment of the pandemic are expected to play a role in the SDG outcomes of cities.
Insights from the index will bring areas needing improvement to the attention of the respective administrative authorities and help them monitor how various projects and schemes are being implemented, said a person familiar with the development.
The 17 SDG goals adopted in 2015 by UN member-nations form the blueprint for prosperity for people. It recognizes that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth while tackling climate change.
At the national level, India has covered two-thirds of the distance to achieving the goals and needs to bridge the gap by 2030. India’s SDG composite index 2021 is at 66, compared to 60 in the previous report. The improvement is driven mostly by gains in health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy and reduced inequality. Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are ahead of other states in meeting welfare goals, while Assam, Jharkhand and Bihar have a lot of ground to cover, NITI Aayog had said in June in its SDG index 2020-21.
While 15 states and seven administrative units, including Delhi and Chandigarh, are above the national average in progress towards meeting these goals, 13 states and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu are below that.
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