Our Common Agenda—the flagship report by the UN Secretary General released in September 2021—promises a transformative change in the face of a post-pandemic crisis in the progress towards global human development. As such, the report is not only closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals but also from the outset outlines its ambition to ‘accelerate’ progress towards the SDGs. This paper unpacks the complex interplay between the two frameworks through the theoretical lens of an epistemic infrastructure of quantification. The paper shows how Our Common Agenda could be seen as a move towards an expansion of the existing infrastructure of measurement to include a new temporal dimension. Overall, the paper argues that the transformative potential of the epistemic infrastructure is in fact impeded by the statistical path dependency of the existing metrics and the distinct politics of infrastructure which promotes blurred accountability lines and lacks specific solutions.
Photo by Meruyert Gonullu