Country Reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals—The Politics of Performance Review at the Global-National Nexus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), debates on governance through goal-setting and performance review have gained momentum. In this article, we explore how the politics of performance review played out in public sustainable development reporting at the global-national nexus. By examining the case of Swedish reporting to the United Nations High Level Political Forum in 2017, we find policy translation, accountability preparation and identity formation to be key functions of SDG reporting. We draw attention to the performative and political features of these functions in the sustainable development realm. With a fast approaching deadline, policy translation of global indicators to the national context glossed over politically contentious issues. Reporting served to enable peer review among governments rather than hierarchical accountability of domestic politics. Moreover, the identity formation function of SDG reporting was strong on the international stage while domestically it was challenged by broader political struggles. In conclusion, our study bears witness of the formative power of public reporting for SDG governance. We call for comparative research to allow for further theory-building on the politics of public reporting on sustainable development.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences
  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • Reporting, Sustainable development, Policy-making, Sustainable development goals, UN High Level Political Forum
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-417
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 1
Publication categoryResearch