Globally there is a significant shift away from measuring performance solely against gross domestic product (GDP) to defining clear targets across a much broader range of outcomes, as defined by the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is challenging not just on a global or national scale, but in all areas of public policy. However, while challenging, defining outcomes, supported by clear, measurable targets and timeframes, is crucial if we are to realise our goals, whatever the scale or setting.
Clear targets and appropriate indicators set up a framework and accountability incentive to guide action to achieve agreed goals. They drive the gathering and analysis of baseline data to fully understand the current situation and the desired future state, allowing decision makers to determine what needs to be done to get there. They also provide a consistent basis for ongoing data collection to track progress towards the goals. Importantly, clear targets and indicators provide a starting point for policy makers to review and interrogate their strategy. Data gathered against indicators in each reporting period allow policy makers to consider whether the current strategy is still the most appropriate and effective means to achieve their goals and identify necessary adjustments both to the goals, as well as the suite of actions to reach those goals.
Once there are set targets for goals like renewable energy we should expect that these issues will attract more attention from politicians. Once established and regularly reported, measures for targets like renewable energy and accessible green spaces in cities will create incentives for politicians to act. If they don’t, the public will have relevant information to track progress.