The 2020

The 2020 SDG Index and the Muslim world

Foyasal Khan

Since 2015, all member states of the United Nations have been implementing “Agenda 2030” and working on achieving the agreed-upon Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Subsequently, to assess where each country stands with regard to achieving the SDGs, Jeffrey Sachs and a team of independent experts working at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) alongside the Bertelsmann Stiftung institute have been preparing a Sustainable Development Report (SDR).

The report usually includes the SDG Index & Dashboards. However, the 2020 edition of the SDR, published on June 30, 2020, by Cambridge University Press, additionally and very timely, focuses on the likely short-term impacts of COVID-19 on the SDGs and describes how the SDGs can frame the recovery.

The 2020 SDG Index includes 166 U.N. member countries. Out of the 57 countries included in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), 55 are included in the report. This short article offers a glance at the performances of OIC countries. For the sake of our discussion, let’s divide the 166 countries into three groups: Group A, representing the top 50 countries, Group C, representing the bottom 50 countries, and the other 66 countries, ranking from 51th to 116th, as Group B.

The top five performing Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries include Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Algeria and Iran. It is also important to mention Bosnia-Herzegovina is the only OIC member country in Group A, ranked 50th with a score of 73.38.

In contrast, of the countries in Group C, 25, or 50%, are OIC members. Of them, 20 countries, or 80%, are in Africa. The countries are ordered in accordance with their performances in the SDG Index: Senegal – ranked 127th with a score of 58.27, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Mauritania, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Mozambique, Uganda, Benin, Comoros, Togo, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali, Niger, Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Chad, ranked 164th with a score of 43.75.

Of the rest, the remaining five OIC countries include two from South Asia – namely, Pakistan ranked 134th and Afghanistan ranked 139th – two from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – namely, Yemen ranked 151st and Syria ranked 126th – while the remaining one, Guyana, ranked 124th, is located in the Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) region.

In Group B, 29, or nearly 44%, are OIC member countries. These countries are from six diverse regions. Turkey, the only Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country in the Muslim world, has a score of 70.30 and is ranked 70th and 12th among the global and OIC levels, respectively. Suriname is the only country from the LAC region with a score of 68.36, ranked 86th, while Gabon is the only African country in Group B with a score of 63.40, ranking 111th.

The two South Asian countries are Bangladesh, ranked 109th, and the Maldives, ranked 91st, while the three Southeast Asian countries are Malaysia at 60th, Brunei at 88th and Indonesia at 101st. The seven Eastern Europe and Central Asian countries included are Kyrgyzstan, ranked 52ndwith a score of 73.01, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Albania, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, ranked 114th with a score of 63.03. Among them, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan are also among the top five performing OIC countries.

The 14 MENA countries include Algeria, ranked 56th with a score of 72.27, Iran, Tunisia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq, ranked 113th with a score of 63.13. Among them, Algeria and Iran are also among the top five performing OIC countries.

The 2020 SDG Index excludes 27 of 193 U.N. countries due to a lack of adequate data. To minimize biases from missing data, the 2020 SDG Index only includes countries that have data for at least 80% of the variables included in the global SDG Index. Eighty-five countries, more than half of these countries, or nearly 52%, have less than 5% data missing. Among these are 25 OIC members.

Hence, it can be said that OIC countries have more missing data than non-OIC countries. Another interesting fact we see that 37 countries have no missing data, among them, only nine are from the Muslim world. In summary, we observe that the performance of the majority of OIC member countries is relatively poorer than non-OIC countries. Among the 1.85 billion people the OIC represents, around 968 million, or 53%, live in only five countries, namely, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Egypt.

These countries are also home to large poor populations. The OIC as the collective voice of the Muslim world should respond to this through its various organs, committees and institutions – including the Islamic Center for the Development of Trade (ICDT), the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to enhance cooperation among OIC members so that the performance of OIC countries can be collectively improved. Another important issue is to focus on real-time information, especially in light of the pandemic. It can be observed that countries with free flow and easy access to real-time data and information are doing better in fighting COVID-19. The Muslim world is far behind in data collection.

To understand the socioeconomic development of the Muslim world, researchers still have to depend on other secondary sources, i.e., the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and others. Hence, the Ankara-based Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC) research center needs to focus on collecting vital data for the Muslim world instead of merely compiling a number of reports based on secondary sources, which don’t add much value. Moreover, the research community and the private sector need to be engaged since a wealth of real-time data can be compiled from nontraditional sources.

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