The costs of achieving the SDGs: Partners

SDG Wheel
The costs of achieving the SDGs:

This information is based on updates received by UN entities and funds involved in SDG costing efforts in their areas, and further updates to be included on this page can be shared with UNCTAD ( The current contents draw mainly on information shared at the Inter-agency Exchange on SDG Transformation Pathways Costing, organized jointly by UNCTAD, UNDESA and UNDP, on 25 May 20231.

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)

  • ESCWA offers a national SDG costing calculator that relies on methodologies developed by the UN.
  • Tools developed by ESCWA merited from field visits to capitals and discussions with line ministries.
  • ESCWA is pilot testing an integrated SDG budgeting tool with machine learning to assess the impact of general budget information across the SDGs. It has been rolled out in three countries.
  • Future SDG costing need to consider SDG synergies for optimal spending in the national context.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations(FAO)

  • Produced the first cost estimates for hunger targets of SDG 2 in 2015 and is currently working on a further costing exercise for SDG 2, acknowledging the complexity of the effort.
  • Applies a global model that combined Official Development Assistance (ODA) and government expenditure for costing.
  • Experience gained has shown the importance of considering trade-offs between SDG 2 and other SDGs and the need to consider the desired achievements before costing the efforts.
  • It would also be important to address leakages and lack of efficiency in public investment, even though they were usually not accounted for.
  • Broad collaboration, involving the IMF, World Bank, and multilateral development banks, is key to providing coherent numbers but also to assessing the impact of investments.

International Energy Agency (IEA)

  • Developed estimates of the costs of reaching universal access to electricity and clean cooking, i.e., the cost of achieving SDG target 7.1, and to decarbonize the global energy sector, towards SDG target 7.2.
  • These include estimates consistent with a trajectory to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 C by the end of the century.
  • While investments in clean energy are rising rapidly in advanced economies, levels have remained flat in developing economies.
  • Concessional financing will be essential to attract private investment to clean energy.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank

  • Focus costing efforts on food systems and co-lead agencies for the financing agenda for food systems transformation.
  • With the UN Food Systems Coordination developed an SDG-based country Food Systems Financing tool to help countries measuring financial flows to food systems, gaps and prioritize their investment decisions critical to achieving the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.
  • Through collaboration with the Organisation for the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Tool measures international development financing to food systems from bilateral aid, multilateral institutions and philanthropies using the OECD Creditor Reporting System (CRS).
  • The Tool also leverages established methodologies such as the FAO-MAFAP (FAO, 2023) to measure public expenditures in support of food and agriculture, the WB-Aspire (World Bank, 2023) to measure expenditures for food assistance, Scaling Up Nutrition’s (SUN, 2020) approach to nutrition costing and financial tracking.
  • In addition to costing the achievement of food systems transformation, the Tool provides a harmonized methodology to monitor if domestic public financing and international development finance meet the costs of transitioning to high performing and sustainable food systems.

International Labour Organization (ILO)

  • Estimated the financing gaps and investment needs for complying with social protection (SDG 1.3) and universal health care (SDG 3.8), in collaboration with WHO in 2019 and 2020 considering the COVID-19 pandemic scenario.
  • Proposed sharing tools, including its own shared above under the social security and decent jobs pathway, information, and methods for SDG cost estimates to enhance skills and competences for SDG costing and budgeting and improve the quality of estimates.
  • Mentioned that the current data does not allow calculating financing gaps by gender, but more refined data is being collected for the next ILO World Social Protection Report, scheduled for 2024. It will involve developing new methodology for costing social protection benefits.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

  • Leads the costing efforts for quality education targets of SDG 4 and is also working on the costing of elements of SDG 9 on industry, innovation, and infrastructure.
  • Due to the importance of numbers to stimulate discussions and set concrete action, they regularly update estimates for global education targets, including to consider the impact of COVID-19.
  • Projects have shown the importance of replacing universal targets with country-set targets in the future when calculating the absolute and relative gaps in financing SDG 4.
  • Proposed pulling together the tools used by all agencies for country-level costing, rather than creating new ones.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

  • Introduced a sustainable budgeting approach tool which assesses the alignment of public spending with integrated national development and climate and biodiversity targets, national capital, and pollution commitments. The tool has been piloted in Gabon, and further country applications will follow.
  • Another tool, an adapted version of the Integrated Green Economy Modelling Framework, is being discussed with development banks. This comprehensive tool aids in assessing the economic, social, and environmental effects of such policies, enhancing the analysis of green initiatives, and fostering positive outcomes at various scales.
  • These tools are not specifically for costing but provide insights into various aspects of sustainability.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

  • Shared information on UNCTAD’s pilot study on SDG costing with Egypt UN Joint Fund Support for Integrated SDG Financing. The methodology utilizes a stochastic frontier model that considers synergies and trade-offs between investment in different SDGs.
  • Release the first experimental results covering 60 countries based on official national statistics on government expenditure and SDG indicators in June 2023 as the In-Focus of SDG Pulse, covering around 20 SDG indicators.
  • UNCTAD is extending the coverage of countries and SDG indicators included in the cost estimates by September with the UN Women to ensure a gender focus. The exercise will provide cost estimates of achieving the SDG transition pathways that can be compared across country groups and pathways.
  • UNCTAD’s World Investment Report (2023) considered the private investment deficit for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda faced by developing countries.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)

  • UNDESA is co-leading the effort with UNCTAD and UNDP on two streams on SDG costing: firstly, to support the SDG Stimulus efforts aiming to develop credible numbers that can be globally comparable, and feed into countries further work, and secondly, reinforcing Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFF).
  • Countries are effectively using INFFs to strengthen financing for national sustainable development plans and the SDGs, including cost estimates of priority areas for each country.
  • Costing and implementation in terms of investment are interconnected. Various methodologies can be used depending on local conditions and focus areas.
  • Strengthening country-led processes will be crucial to informing the global discussion on financing needs.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

  • Is collecting a repository of costing methods within INFFs to help link finance and development plans and priorities.
  • Costing methodologies should also consider the role of private capital in financing the SDGs. Different funding sources may also have different requirements.
  • INFFs have proven useful as concrete reforms have been implemented in 50 countries to date to integrate SDGs into budgeting.
  • In further development of methods, it would be important to consider trade-offs between different budgetary needs and options across SDGs.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

  • Works with governments and partners to undertake costings at both national and subnational level across multiple areas of programming to inform government plans and strategies for achieving the SDGs.
  • Undertakes both country-level costing of SDG strategies, and costing of child-sensitive strategies and programmes linked to one or more SDGs, such as social protection (SDG 1), nutrition (SDG 2), health (SDG 3), education (SDG 4), and water, sanitation and hygiene (SDG 6).
  • Applies a multisectoral child-focused lens to costing, including in areas such as early childhood development and child protection, which contribute to multiple SDGs, as well as highlighting issues of equity within costings of essential social services (SDG 10), including in relation to gender (SDG 5) and disability.
  • Works with governments, other UN agencies, multilateral and bilateral partners, and academics to design, develop and test costing methods, including in key sectors (e.g. the One-Health tool with WHO), SDG-relevant subsectors (e.g., national immunization strategies, community health care workers, digital learning, early childhood education accelerator, etc.), or to highlight specific contexts or equity foci (e.g., inclusive and shock-responsive social protection).
  • Engages with governments to leverage costing processes and data to inform the development, financing and implementation of national development plans to achieve the SDGs, including prioritization of the national budget process and the development of financing strategies for INFFs.
  • Engages in costing social protection towards achieving SDG 1.3 and to supporting building inclusive and shock-responsive social protection systems for children at country, regional and global levels.


  • Have developed methodologies on engineering and built environment-related SDG targets covering roads; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); housing, internally displaced populations (IDPs) and leaving no one behind (LNOB).
  • Apply a combination of (equilibrium) methods, engineering economic method, unit-cost method to estimate the costs.
  • Developed a survey questionnaire to collect national data to supplement secondary data and will calculate the costs of different environment-related targets, considering national fiscal capacity and the financing gaps from public and private investment pathways.
  • Housing is a challenging area for costing as it needs to assess how housing goals are achieved in each country. Housing products are different, their prices are different, and household income distributions are different. Housing markets are localized and segmented. The methods will need to analyze different segments, their market behaviors and cost structures.
  • Housing can be financed by private companies, households, or government budget in the case of government subsidized housing. Costing exercises must consider how housing is financed in practice, as well as the affordability of governments action (i.e., national fiscal capacity).

UN Women

  • Emphasized the critical role of enabling countries to prioritize and accelerate work on SDGs.
  • Raising gender awareness in costing tools and guidance is key as they have been mainly gender blind.
  • A long-term strategy is needed beyond just funding, highlighting the importance of stable and consistent investment and spending over time.
  • There is a need for a comprehensive planning of spending that considers the trade-offs and synergies across SDGs. In this regard, UN Women is working jointly with UNCTAD, UNDESA and UNDP to develop costing methodologies.
  • Underlined the need to consider how the different investment plans could be combined more effectively.


  • The meeting was attended by 37 experts representing 13 organizations, including the EOSG, ESCWA, FAO, IEA, IFAD, ILO, UNCTAD, UNDESA, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UN Habitat and UN Women.