FAQ

What is the PCSDI? 
How does the PCSDI evaluate countries?
Which policies are in which components?
What does each component measure?
Which variables are in the index?
Which countries does the index evaluate?
Which regions does the index spotlight?
What is the difference between the PCSDI and other ways of measuring development?.
How is the PCSDI related to the 2030 Agenda?

What is the PCSDI?

The Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development Index (PCSDI) is a tool that measures, evaluates and compares countries’ commitments to sustainable, fair and equitable development. It has come to life to offer an alternative to the hegemonic, limited view provided by the indicators normally used to measure progress, particularly Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The PCSDI sanctions and/or rewards countries’ behaviour based on an approach that factors in sustainability, gender perspective, ecology, human rights, and a deeply cosmopolitan perspective, without assuming that national policies impact only those living within the country’s borders. A country’s progress is only progress if it is compatible with that of other countries and the planet as a whole. That is why we devised the PCSDI, to measure these interactions.

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How does the PCSDI evaluate countries?

The PCSDI conceives policy coherence for development as the mainstreaming of the sustainable development perspective into the full public policy cycle, that is, into its design, formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Each country is thus evaluated using a set of indicators to measure the extent to which its public policies integrate this sustainable development perspective.

The index is conceived from a broad, transformative, development approach that takes four inter-related approaches into account:

Human Development. The PCSDI includes indicators that allow for evaluating the extent to which countries place people’s well-being at the heart of their public policies.

Sustainable Development. In this index, policies are analysed through the prism of the four dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social, environmental and political) as well as their interdependencies.

Cosmopolitan Development. The PCSDI analyses whether countries’ public policies are designed and implemented after taking account of their effects beyond their borders, on people and the planet.

Gender Approach. The index includes indicators capturing the extent to which policies reproduce inequalities between men and women and the extent to which they try to combat these inequalities.

Human Rights Approach. The index evaluates whether countries have solid institutions that protect and safeguard human rights for the entire population, without any discrimination.

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Which policies are in which components?

The five PCSDI components are: global, economic, environmental, social and productive. Initially, each component measures the following policies
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What does each component measure?

Each country’s score on each of the five components is established by analysing its behaviour from a policy coherence for sustainable development perspective, meaning that the policies under each component are evaluated not only from a strictly sectorial standpoint but rather by using the four dimensions of sustainable development (i.e. economic, social, environmental and political) in order to capture the synergies, tensions, conflicts and exchanges between these policies. The PCSDI economic component measures fiscal and financial policies in order to establish those that are most coherent to reduce inequality, ensure women’s financial inclusion, combat financial opacity and enhance economic transparency.

The PCSDI social component measures the behaviour of six public policies — education, social protection, equality, health, science and technology, and employment – in order to establish those that best ensure social rights and decent work. It includes a feminist perspective that accounts for differences between men and women.

The PCSDI global component measures behaviour in four public policies – justice and human rights, peace and security, cooperation, and human mobility and migrations. It establishes each country’s degree of commitment to global democratic governance by evaluating its positions on international treaties. It penalizes high degrees of militarization.

The PCSDI environmental component measures behaviour in four public policies – fisheries, rural and agricultural development, biodiversity and energy. It evaluates each country’s national and global impact and its commitment to the main international environmental agreements.

The PCSDI productive component measures the behaviour of three public policies (urban planning, infrastructure and transport, and industry). It establishes the balance struck between solid productive infrastructure and environmental and social factors. The 2019 PCSDI finally does not include any tourism policy variable because of a lack of data and sufficient suitability of the indicators available. This occurred with urban policy in the 2016 PCSDI.

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Which variables are in the index?

The 2019 PCSDI is constructed with 57 variables grouped together under five components. The component with the greatest number of variables is the social component (21) followed by the global component (16), and then in turn the environmental (8), productive (7) and economic (5) components.

Of the 57 variables, 38 measure positive contributions made to sustainable development while 19 measure what thwarts it. By including the direct and indirect negative impacts, the PCSDI incorporates the complexity and contradictions inherent to development processes while spotlighting practices that should be transformed or even eliminated.

Twenty of the 57 variables take a gender perspective. Eleven are main gender indicators and nine spotlight processes that negatively impact inequality between men and women.

The PCSDI draws 29 of its variables from official body and institution sources and 10 from sources of other types of initiatives and think tanks. The remaining 18 were devised by the research team, 11 of them from official statistics and nine from non-official statistics. This data was taken mostly between February and June 2018. Owing to the usual lags with which statistical information is published, most of the variables refer to the period between 2014 and 2017.

The first edition of the index, published in 2016, comprised 49 variables.

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Which countries does the index evaluate?

In the first PCD index published in 2016, 133 countries were examined. In the new 2019 PCSDI, 148 countries are evaluated. This is the maximum number of countries for which sufficient data was available for the index’s variables. In constructing the PCSDI, those countries that did not have reliable data on a number of variables were ruled out. In future PCSDI editions, however, new countries will be included as updated reliable data are presented.
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Which regions does the index spotlight?

In this most recent 2019 edition, the countries break down as follows:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa: 36 countries.
  • Europe, USA and Canada: 30 countries.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: 24 countries.
  • Central Asia and Eastern Europe: 20 countries.
  • Middle East and North Africa: 16 countries.
  • East Asia: 10 countries.
  • South Asia: 7 countries.
  • Pacific and Oceania: 5 countries.

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What is the difference between the PCSDI and other ways of measuring development?.

The PCSDI stands among the efforts made by the major multilateral institutions to overcome the limitations observed in measuring process based on the quantification of economic growth as a main indicator.

It comes as a transformative measuring stick of how individual countries stand vis-á-vis the challenges raised by global development agendas such as the 2030 Agenda. It sets its sights on overcoming GDP’s continuing hegemony as a prescriber of public policy, despite evident limitations due to its conception. The world’s current pressing transitions require solutions that incorporate multidimensional measurements and interdependencies involved in sustainable development challenges.

To this end, the PCSDI turns to three crucial areas for sustainable development, all serving as coherence indicators: ecological sustainability of development processes, a feminist approach, and a democratising dimension in society. In each one of the five components included in the PCSDI, we can find variables tied to each one of these three areas. This allows for using a multidimensional lens when analysing each one of the policies

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How is the PCSDI related to the 2030 Agenda?

In September 2015, the United National General Assembly approved the new international development agenda. The so-called 2030 Agenda puts forward 17 Goals with 169 integrated and indivisible objectives encompassing the economic, social and the environmental spheres.

The 2030 Agenda requires a new conceptual and instrumental device that consolidates a new development narrative based on universality, comprehensiveness and multidimensionality. A new tool factoring in global interdependencies and interconnections that characterize today’s world. This approach also enables rigorous measurements to be made of both progress and regression on the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets.

Overall, the policy coherence approach to development and the measurement tool put forward by the Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development Index provide an additional framework for understanding and interpreting the 2030 Agenda and public policy. It also serves as an ambitious monitoring system enabling an evaluation of countries’ compliance with their commitments to be undertaken from a policy coherence for sustainable development standpoint.

As a tool spotlighting interaction between policies, countries and sustainable development, the PCSDI can contribute to interpreting and solving some of the most significant contradictions inherent in implementing the 2030 Agenda.
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