The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals agreed by 193 Member States at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York in 2015. Signatories have committed to reaching these goals by 2030.

This article provides context supplemented with observations on how Australia is tracking against the goals and associated indicators.

What are the goals?

The goals reflect things that Australians value highly and seek to protect, like a healthy environment, access to opportunity and services, human rights, inclusive economies, diverse and supportive communities and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage. The SDGs comprise 17 goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators.

Below is a snapshot of the 17 goals and our initial observations on the data:

There are two key portals dedicated to tracking Australia’s alignment to the goals.

  • Australian Government’s Reporting Platform on the SDG Indicators – This portal provides the status of data collection in Australia by indicator under each goal. Where data is available against a specific indicator, current tracking is available as well as the corresponding dataset. Visit portal.
  • The Sustainable Development Goals portal – This portal demonstrates how various Australian organisations are working towards meeting the goals. Organisations are encouraged to add their specific projects with details on which goals they are aligned to, and what they’re doing to shift the needle. Visit portal.

To simplify access for organisations across Australia, the Seer Data Science team has consolidated the available Open Data against each indicator into one data asset for exploration.

Seer Plus, Community Collective, and Unlimited subscribers can access the Sustainable Development Goals pre-packed Suitcase and dataset including supplementary insights where available. You can access these assets here →

If you don’t have a Seer subscription or you have a Seer Standard subscription, get in touch so we can discuss this asset with you further.

For anyone interested, Catherine Baker and Ricki Hudson will host a ‘How Shop’ on the goals 11am (AEST) 9 September where you can learn more about the goals.

Learn more and register now

How is Australia tracking against the goals? Here are our initial observations

We have a gap in reporting against climate-related themes:

  • Across the goals, Climate Action, Life Underwater, and Life on the Land, only three indicators have data available, across the combined total across those three goals of 32 indicators.
  • Goal 13, Climate Action, has no data available through the Sustainable Development Goals Australia portal.

Similarly, there’s more to be done regarding sustainable communities:

  • Likewise, when it comes to Sustainable Cities and Communities, there are no available indicators for the 15 outlined by the United Nations.

The granularity of data is an opportunity:

  • Data generally is from a national point of view and we believe many States, Territories, Councils, and agencies may be working on their own response to the goals with their own unique lens.

Equality & People:

  • Per 100,000 in Australia women make up 36.7% of all managerial roles available and figures remained steady over the reporting period 2014-2017, which is the only data made available under Goal 5: Gender Equality. We have provided supplementary Insights regarding graduates by sector and sex to provide additional context for organisations tracking this goal.
  • Human trafficking per 100,000 people has increased sharply from 12 to 39 from the financial year 2011-12 through to 2016-17, more than quadrupling during that time period as reported against Goal 16: Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions.
  • In the 2018-19 financial year, taxes on Superannuation equated to 2.1% of all domestic taxes, or AU$10.4 billion as reported against Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals.


  • Tuberculosis rates per 100,000 people have increased from 5.2 to 6.2 between 2015 and 2020.
  • HIV rates per 1,000 people have decreased from 4.7 to 3.6 for non-indigenous Australians and from 5.3 to 3.3 for Indigenous Australians between 2014 and 2019, meaning fewer Indigenous persons than non-indigenous persons per 1,000 were recorded in the last available data.

Research & Development: {we could create an infographic for separate use using the following two clusters}

  • Research and development as a percentage of GDP has declined from 2.55% in 2008 annually in the available reported period against Goal 9: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure.
  • Agriculture research as Government expenditure has been increasing over time. In 2016-17, expenditure in policy replaced development as the second-largest expenditure in the Zero Hunger reporting period.


  • Domestic material consumption is relatively flat since 2010, however, the material footprint per capita has continued to rise annually since 2008.
  • Renewable energy as a proportion of total energy consumption has been unsteady over the reporting. It declined steeply at the turn of the century to below 7% and only recovered to 9.4% from 2014.

In case you missed it earlier in this article, we’ll be hosting a ‘How Shop’ on the Sustainable Development Goals Suitcase we have built on Seer that gives you a single location to track your progress against the goals. You can upload your own data, add multimedia content and context and share with anyone via public link or with your organisation members by inviting them to collaborate on the Suitcase.

Register now to attend the Sustainable Development Goals Suitcase How Shop.