Launching a pilot Youth SDG Index for Australia, NZ & the Pacific

SDSN AusNZPac Youth is thrilled today to launch ‘Towards an AusNZPac Youth SDG Index’, a youth-led report that is the first in the world to use the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework to measure young people’s progress towards sustainable development.


The report found that young people were lagging behind the general population on many of the SDGs examined, showing the value and importance of using the SDGs to measure youth progress.

However, the team also encountered significant challenges in adapting the SDG targets to youth concerns and in finding relevant youth-related data.

The team are calling for others to further develop and replicate this exercise elsewhere, as a tool for ensuring that young people – and other overlooked groups – are not left behind in developing SDG reporting frameworks.

The report and additional resources can be downloaded at

The SDGs have been used extensively to measure national and sub-national progress on sustainable development as tools for policy makers and advocates to identify where sustainable challenges remain and to ensure no one is left behind. However, very little mention of youth is made in these exercises, making them practically invisible in SDG progress assessments.

To remedy this gap, SDSN Youth AusNZPac worked in collaboration with over 40 young people from across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region to develop a pilot SDG index to track youth concerns in the region. The project was mentored and supported by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI), host of SDSN AusNZPac.

Inspired by MSDI’s Transforming Australia SDG Progress Reports, the SDSN’s Sustainable Development Reports (including the SDG Index and Dashboards), and SDG localisation approaches, the team worked with young people to identify and prioritise SDG targets important to young people in the region, to adapt them into indicators that specifically measure youth concerns, and to track down data and analyse progress for the 15-24 yr old age group for these indicators for Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa.

Towards an AusNZPac Youth SDG Index’ reports on the 13 priority SDG targets identified by the team, relating to SDG 1 (poverty), SDG 2 (food insecurity), SDG 3 (health), SDG 7 (sustainable energy), SDG 8 (decent work), SDG 10 (inequality), SDG 11 (sustainable communities), SDG 13 (climate change) and SDG 16 (good governance). It includes a summary dashboard for youth progress relative to the general population, graphs of the data found, and commentaries and testimonials from young people about the targets.

The report identifies three key results:

  1. It is important to add a youth lens to SDG reporting, because young people often lag behind the rest of the population on the SDGs. Where data was available, the report found that young people were often lagging behind the general population on the SDG indicators, particularly in areas such as psychological distress, suicide mortality rate, unemployment, rent overburden and homelessness. This shows that putting a youth lens on the SDG framework is both useful and important for ensuring youth are not left behind.
  2. There needs to be a greater focus on collecting and making available SDG-related data for youth, because the team could not find data for many of the indicators. While the team had a challenge finding general data for many of the indicators, particularly in the Pacific, finding youth-related SDG data was even more challenging. This lack of youth-related data in the region represents a ‘blind spot’ for decision-makers and youth advocates.
  3. Young people did not feel represented in the SDGs framework and need to be genuinely consulted in the design of future frameworks. The team found that after examining the SDG targets closely during consultation sessions, young people thought that the framework was not representing them. Hence, moving forward, diverse young people need to be considered in all sustainable development decisions and practices.

Overall, the team found merit in using the SDGs to understand the specific challenges faced by young people, and as a tool for advocating for change. They call on others to replicate and improve on this approach around the world, to ensure that young people (and other overlooked groups) are not being left behind in the global, national and local endeavours towards sustainable development.

The report is being launched at a webinar featuring youth and SDG advocates, including Isabelle Zhu-Maguire (SDSN Youth AusNZPac Coordinator and report writer), Prof John Thwaites AM (Chair of SDSN AusNZPac), Imogen Kane (Australia’s 2023 Youth Representative to the United Nations), Harleen Rangi-Singh (2021 NZ Y25 list), Alexandre Dayant (Deputy Director, Indo-Pacific Development Centre, Lowy Institute for International Policy), and Cameron Joshua Artango (YPAT Program Member at UNICEF East Asia and Pacific).