SDG 16 Survey Initiative


The SDG16 Survey Initiative, jointly developed by UNDP, UNODC and OHCHR provides a high quality, well tested tool that countries can be used to measure progress on many of the survey-based indicators under SDG16.  It can support data production on peace, justice and inclusion (SDG 16) which can help to better understand complex realities that exist at national and local levels. It can help unveil some of the hidden truths of how violence, discrimination, inequality and injustice manifest itself in the community and identify entry points to begin to address some of these persistent challenges.

Progress towards more peaceful, just and inclusive societies remains stalled, according to the 2021 SDG Report, and in some cases regressing due to COVID-19 and deepening inequalities.  But data on these measures of peace, justice and inclusion are few and far between. UNESCAP estimates, for example, that only 1/3 of SDG 16 indicators in the region have data available. The lack of data, particularly on the survey-based indicators of SDG 16, is partly because of the diversity of operations necessary to collect the data required and the high costs of implementing surveys. UNDP, UNODC and OHCHR have tried to address these challenges by developing one single methodology to collect data on the majority of the SDG 16 indicators.

The SDG16 Survey Questionnaire has gone through several rounds of testing, including quality assessment by experts, cognitive testing and pilot testing. It has being piloted in eight countries across different regions and development contexts (Cabo Verde, El Salvador, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia) whose experiences have contributed to refining the instrument. Three countries (El Salvador, Tunisia and Togo) are now integrating some or all of the modules into national surveys to be able to use it to inform national policy making and report on the indicators globally

The 13 SDG16 indicators included in this instrument cover the thematic areas of governance, access to justice, discrimination, corruption, violence and trafficking in persons. The survey can be used to fill the data gaps for the national monitoring of SDG16 and help inform the design of evidence-based policies and programmes. The SDG16 Survey-based Indicators Questionnaire will be available for implementation in mid-2021. On this page you can find relevant resources and read more about: 

  • The background for the SDG16 Survey Initiative
  • Considerations in the design of the instrument  
  • Modules and indicators
  • Recommended data disaggregation 
  • The piloting status of the Survey Questionnaire
  • How the survey instrument will be implemented
  • The envisioned timeline of the SDG16 Survey Initiative

*The initiative is being supported with contributions from the United Kingdom (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) and the Government of Norway.




The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) was endorsed in 2015 by the Member States at the 70th United Nations General Assembly. Member States pledged that all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, would implement this plan, leaving no one behind. Specifically, they committed that “We are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development”. This commitment was translated into Sustainable Development Goal 16: Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. SDG 16 is considered an enabler of other goals, and increasingly countries are including it as part of their national development plans and strategies.

Measuring progress on peace, justice, and inclusion is rapidly improving. Definition of methodologies for all indicators under the goals are being progressively refined with all indicators upgraded from Tier 3 to Tier in 2 in 2020, i.e. from a status of  “no internationally established methodology or standards are yet available for the indicator, but methodology/standards are being (or will be) developed or tested”, to “Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology, and standards are available, but countries do not regularly produce data”. While the methodology now exists, there continues to be limited availability of data and it is necessary to strengthen statistical systems further to produce the indicators on a consistent and regular basis. The SDG16 Survey, jointly developed by UNDP, UNODC and OHCHR, provides a coherent survey instrument that countries can use to measure progress on many of the survey-based indicators under SDG16.

SDG 16 Survey Overview

The SDG16 Survey has been designed with the following considerations:

  • International comparability: The SDG 16 indicators and their operational definition are applicable and relevant in most countries and comparable across countries, time, cultures, languages, and types of government. The SDG 16 Survey allows for data collection on these indicators to enable cross-country comparisons. To ensure comparability a set of minimum parameters and requirements are defined.
  • National contexts, inclusion of optional standard items: Different levels of national development and capacities are taken into consideration by allowing the inclusion of additional questions to contextualize and localize the indicators. Where possible, the SDG16 Survey framework can be complemented with regional and national indicators. Also, when possible and applicable, indicators are adapted to the national context. To furthermore contextualize indicators, each indicator is disaggregated by various socio-demographic criteria. Despite the flexibility the survey also has questions and requirements that must remain unaltered in order to ensure global comparability.
  • Modular design: The SDG16 Survey is designed with the general consideration that it can be applied as a standalone household survey. However, if necessary, countries can also implement each of the modules separately or incorporate parts of the survey into ongoing operations. The design sets out a recommended sequencing of the eight sections covering most of the survey-based indicators of the SDG 16 indicators framework.
  • Dimensions of survey quality: The SDG16 Survey’s recommended design strives to achieve six elements or dimensions of survey quality and appropriability: relevance, accuracy, timeliness, accessibility, interpretability and coherence.
Modules and Indicators

The SDG16 Survey offers an internationally standardized and tested instrument to collect required data for the computation of 13 Sustainable Development Goals indicators, divided into six modules, on Access to Justice (OECD, UNDP, UNODC), Corruption (UNODC), Governance (UNDP), Discrimination (OHCHR) and Human trafficking (UNODC) and Violence (UNODC).



SDG16 Survey Disaggregation

Disaggregation allows data users to compare population groups and to understand the situations of specific vulnerable groups. Currently accepted metadata[1] documents recommend the following disaggregation to be provided with each individual indicator:

*Population groups are relevant in the respective national context.
*This includes indicator-specific analytical criteria, such as disaggregation place of occurrence for 11.7.2, type of crime for 16.3.1, type of dispute resolution mechanism in 16.3.3, type of official in 16.5.1 and type of exploitation in 16.2.2'


Besides the above-outlined recommendation by the metadata documentation, countries are encouraged to disaggregate by all relevant and available variables, including those relevant in their national context.


[1]Documents that provide additional information on the data, including but not limited to data reporter, definitions, concepts, classifications, data sources, data collection types and other methodological considerations.
Piloting Status

The SDG16 Survey Questionnaire has gone through several rounds of testing, including quality assessment by experts, cognitive testing and pilot testing. The Survey Questionnaire is being piloted in eight countries, whose experiences will be contributing to refining the instrument.

An expert consultation was conducted in 2020 where contributions from national and international entities were collected through an expert consultation directed to National Statistical Offices and experts on the domains covered by the survey. This feedback has helped ensure a high-quality instrument for monitoring progress on the SDG 16 indicators and led to the incorporation of different country contexts and experiences in the SDG 16 Survey Questionnaire.

The Survey Questionnaire went through cognitive testing between June and December 2020 in Cabo Verde, El Salvador, and Kenya. It aimed to test segments of the questionnaire related to physical violence, violence reporting, harassment, psychological violence, psychological violence, sexual violence, access to dispute resolution mechanisms, satisfaction with public services, human trafficking, discrimination, gender identity and sexual orientations. The cognitive test collected quantitative data that measure honesty of response, recollection with longer introductory questions, difficulty, and security in remembering. Additionally, there was an in-depth qualitative analysis of the questions and surveys applied during the test, where verbal responses have been considered, and body language obtained through observation. The three cognitive testing led to a revision of the modules before piloting.

Piloting of the SDG 16 Survey initiated in February 2021 in Cabo Verde, El Salvador, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Somalia, the participating countries were chosen on their interest, availability to collect within the selected timeframe, fulfilment of minimum requirements related to sampling, technical capacity, survey structure, fieldwork and follow-up. In all countries, the piloting is being conducted by or in partnership with the National Statistics Office with support from UNDP, UNODC and OHCHR.

The piloting will lead to the finalization of the questionnaire, development of an implementation manual, computation methods, data collection methods and protocols prior to their launch for implementation scheduled for mid-2021.


The SDG16 Survey-based Indicators Questionnaire will be available for implementation in mid-2021. The questionnaire should be implemented by National Statistical Offices (NSOs) and National Statistical Systems. UNDP, UNODC and OHCHR are available to provide technical assistance where required. An implementation manual will be available which outlines the requirements for data collection and computation of the SDG16 indicators and provides guidance on common activities in the stages of planning, designing, building, implementing, processing and analyzing statistical surveys. The manual will serve as an implementation roadmap, respecting the national practices, protocols and procedures adopted in countries.