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Integrated SDG Insights

North Macedonia

UNDP’s Integrated SDG Insights explore how to achieve the SDGs by 2030. So that no one is left behind.

How To Read This Report

‘SDG Insights’ playbooks transcend development “as usual,” and leverages data innovation, AI and systems analysis to chart credible pathways that help countries meet the 2030 Agenda.

SDG Moment This section provides an overview of a country's economic growth trajectory, with new insights on sustainability and inclusiveness of growth pathways.

SDG Trends & Priorities This section builds from the foundation of national SDG progress and uses machine learning to analyse national development ambition with an SDG lens.

SDG Interlinkages Combined, these insights are mapped against SDG interlinkages to define policy choices the accelerate SDG progress, tailored to national context.

Finance & StimulusThese policy choices are made against fiscal constraints and opportunities for stimulus mapped in this section to ensure choices translate to development impact and leave no one behind.

1. SDG Moment

While economic growth is a key element in achieving the SDGs, many countries are intent on moving beyond growth as a yardstick for progress. In the short run, growth enables the SDGs; but in the long run, the SDGs aim to transform the pattern of growth itself.

GDP Growth Pathways


Poverty: Percentage of the population under each threshold (PPP$ a day).

Data not available.


Carbon Intensity: CO2 emissions intensity of GDP (tCO2 per PPP $1,000).

Next year, North Macedonia’s economic growth is projected to surpass both the global rate and the country’s growth trajectory forecast before the pandemic. Accordingly, the country’s commitments to achieving the SDGs are focused on mitigating the effects of the recent slowdown on the most vulnerable households and on increasing people’s well-being.

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This economic expansion is expected to exert a moderately positive influence in reducing poverty, though there are still some distributional challenges to accelerate progress when using more stringent thresholds. On the other hand, the economic cycle would be somewhat less dependent on carbon emissions as the country’s fossil emissions intensity of GDP is projected to decrease at an annual rate of 4% under current conditions.

3. SDG Interlinkages

Maps synergies and trade-offs of national priorities to the most relevant SDG targets to chart policy pathways with most potential to accelerate progress.

4.4: By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship

Investments in human capital are a crucial accelerator for the whole EU and SDG agenda for North Macedonia. Ensuring relevant skills (4.4) for youth is a key in the age of rapid economic and social changes. In the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (2018) North Macedonia lagged the  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development  averages in reading literacy (393 vs 487), maths (394 vs 489) and science (413 vs 489).

Investments in secondary education (4.1) and competitive skills (4.3) could help young people to set out on a future path that ensures employment (8.6) and contributes to accelerating economic convergence with the EU (8.1). Addressing the gender gap in employment – through education and women’s empowerment (5.5) – could be a potential SDG accelerator with a broad impact.

Addressing evident differences (10.1) in education (see PISA 2018) by expanding options for boys and girls and enhancing young women’s and girls’ access to STEM and ICT education will contribute to women’s empowerment (5.5, 5.b). Sustainable urbanization, including transportation services (11.1, 11.2), and targeted inclusion policies for disadvantaged groups (Targets 1.3, 10.3) will contribute to improving equality of opportunities.

9.4: Upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, and entry point Target 9.5 Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of R&D workers

Entry point Target 9.4 involves 72 synergies and 8 trade-offs and entry point Target 9.5 has 78 synergies and one trade-off. Target 9.4 concerns the transition to green (clean) and blue (efficient) technologies, thereby reducing the environmental impact of business operations.

These targets have a broad acceleration effect through improved resource efficiency (Targets 8.4, 8.5), responsible consumption and production (Targets 12.1-12.8), energy efficiency (Targets 7.3, 7.a, 7.b), improved water efficiency and quality (Targets 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6), inclusion of youth and support of entrepreneurship (Target  8.4), climate action (Targets 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, 13.b), no poverty (Targets 1.2, 1.4, 1.5) and no hunger (Targets 2.1-2.4).

12.2: By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources

The policies for accelerated growth would not be relevant if they were not delivering inclusive and sustainable growth. Target 12.2, focusing on sustainable use of natural resources, lies at the heart of the green economy.

It involves 59 synergies and 5 trade-offs and is closely linked with the following elements:

  • Sustainable and inclusive agricultural practices (Targets 2.1., 2.3, 2.4, 2.5)
  • Clean water and sanitation (Targets 6.1-6.6)
  • Energy transition (Targets 7.2, 7.3),
  • Sustainable infrastructure, cities and communities (Targets 9.4, 9.5, 11.3, 11.4, 11.6)
  • Inclusive economy (Targets 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 2.3, 4.7, 5.5, 10.2)
  • Women’s empowerment, linked to women’s participation in decision-making (Target 5.5) and access to and control over natural resources (Targets 1.4, 2.3, 5.a).

The goal of the green economy is decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation while ensuring climate resilience (Targets 13, 14, 15).

Building a green economy requires short term trade-offs with the pressing needs of accelerated growth. It requires a just transition, namely providing transitory social protection measures to those affected by the  transition (Target 1.3), building skills for the future (Target 4.7) and business investments in sustainable infrastructure (Targets 9.1, 9.4, 9.5) using blended and innovative finance (Target 17.3)

8.3: Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services

The policies for accelerated, inclusive and sustainable growth of North Macedonia’s economy (Target 8.3) aim at converging with the EU. These policies are fully compatible with the SDGs and can serve as powerful catalysts for growth and SDG achievement. They are aimed at achieving faster economic growth (Target 8.1) through trade facilitation (Targets  8.a, 17.10, 17.11) and based on increased agricultural (Target 2.3) and industrial productivity (Targets 9.2, 9.3). Policies for sustainable growth also include those aiming at recognizing unpaid care and providing public care infrastructures and services (Target 5.4), enhancing women’s participation in decision-making and women’s empowerment (Target 5.5), including through STEM and ICT education (Target 5.b), and ensuring them equal rights to access and control resources (Target 5.a). Digitalization, which lies at the heart of these policies, requires developing quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including ICT (Targets 9.1, 9.c).

Economic growth policies should resolve trade-offs with the quality of economic growth. Ensuring worker rights (Target 8.8), in particular freedom of association, are closely linked to the realization of the acceleration pathway (Targets 16.6 and 16.7) as without respect for freedom of association there can be no properly functioning institutions and inclusive decision-making in the world of work. Global resource efficiency (Target 8.4), increasing energy efficiency (Targets 7.2, 7.3), and ultimately decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation while ensuring climate resilience.

16.6: Build effective institutions and Target 16.7: Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels

Policies for achieving the SDGs require strong (Target 16.6) and inclusive (Target 16.7) institutions. Not surprising, SDG 16 is at the centre of both the SDGs and the acquis communautaire (the common body of EU law that must be adopted before accession), especially chapters 23 (the judiciary and fundamental rights) and 24 (justice, freedom and security). These two chapters are seen as the backbone of the whole EU negotiation process.

Target 16.6 has 72 synergies and 0 trade-offs.

Targets 16.6, 16.7 have broad acceleration effects through improving inequality of opportunities and thus economic inclusion (Targets 10.1, 10.7) through implementation of specific policies aimed at women’s empowerment (Targets 5.4, 5.5) and participation in decision-making (Target 5.5). These are accompanied by policies aimed at reducing and redistributing unpaid care work (Target 5.4), reducing territorial inequalities (Target 11.2), reducing any adverse environmental impact (Target 11.6), promotion and protection of the human rights of ethnic minorities and of the most vulnerable groups, such as Roma, children and LGBTIQ (Targets 10.3, 1.5).

15.1: By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainableuse of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services.

By prioritizing Target 15.1 in its 2021-2025 National Development Plan, Ecuadorreaffirmed the significance of protecting and preserving terrestrial ecosystems andtheir biodiversity. This includes recognizing that the investment projects intendedto fulfil Target 15.1 will not only contribute to achieving the SDGs 13, 14 and 15, butwill also help restore ecosystems that underpin the availability and comprehensivemanagement of water resources (SDG 6) and promote their sustainable use (Target12.2). Additionally, it will also foster the generation of new energy from renewablesources (Target 7.2).

To this end, Ecuador seeks to strengthen the management of the National Systemof Protected Areas through its 2022-2032 Strategic Plan and the implementationof the National Forest Restoration Plan 2019-2030. These instruments serve as thetechnical, legal and financial foundation for executing local forest restorationprocesses with a landscape vision, with an overall goal of covering 30,000hectares through its projects. Considering that the proportion of national territoryunder conservation or environmental management, as of 2022, stands at 22.1%, itis necessary to mobilize additional financial resources from various sources andestablish robust governance (Target 17.3) to intensify the care of protected areas.This ensures the conservation of natural and cultural resources, genetic flows, theprovision of environmental services for the benefit of the population and thealignment of policies on the ground.

Futures Scenarios

SDG Push is a futures scenario based on 48 integrated accelerators in the areas of Governance, Social Protection, Green Economy and Digital Disruption. It uses national data to explore the impact on human development by 2030 and 2050 across key SDG indicators. It does this by using ‘International Futures,’ a systems model designed to explore interactions across development systems.

Poverty <$1.90 Per Day (Number of People)

Malnourished Children Under 5 (Number Of Children)

Malnourished Children Under 5 (Number Of Children)

4. Finance and Stimulus

Many countries are facing reduced fiscal space, high debt levels, rising interest rates and downgrades on credit ratings. Fiscal and financial constraints tend to slow or even reverse SDG progress.

North Macedonia's gross government debt, projected at 51.9% of GDP in 2023 is 16.9 percentage points (pp) below the emerging market and middle-income economies (EMMIE) group of 68.8%. The country is expected to collect 30.8% of GDP in revenue this year, thus nearly a fifth more than the EMMIE group with 26%.

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North Macedonia's external debt servicing relative to revenue is projected to be as high as 22.6% this year, thus nearly double the average EMMIE country’s 12.3%.

SDG Stimulus

The UN Secretary General’s SDG Stimulus Plan lays out a blueprint for action within the existing financial architecture. It includes:

  • Providing liquidity to support recovery in the near term
  • Enhance debt relief for vulnerable countries.​
  • Expanding development financing by MDBs
  • Align financial flows with the SDGs and Paris Agreement, according to country-level priorities and needs, for example through the rollout of the UN Integrated National Financing Framework (INFFs).

Given the projected fiscal and financial constraints faced by

North Macedonia

possible funding options for the investments derived from the identified interlinkages are as follows:

  • Tax reforms (e.g. carbon tax, tax on sugary drinks, progressive income taxation, tax incentives and disincentives)
  • SDG tagging and SDG prioritization of budget expenditure and public investment
  • Climate finance (green bonds, green loans, green public-private partnerships (PPPs)
  • Blended finance with much greater involvement of the private sector (guarantees, innovative PPPs, greening the foreign direct investments, support  for ecopreneurship and social entrepreneurship, grant co-financing of SDG investment projects, crowdfunding)
  • Improved access to SDG-related finance by reforming banking regulations and promoting innovative financial products and services
  • SDG investment-related use of remittances and philanthropy financing

Methodology & Data Sources

Click here to view the Methodological Note for the Integrated SDG Insights.

This report is the result of a global exercise carried out using artificial intelligence to identify SDG priorities based on 10 national government documents, together with SDG progress and SDG interlinkage analysis. The implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda in Argentina should be consulted in the Country Reports and National Voluntary Reports.

SDG Moment

Assesses challenges and opportunities in national growth trajectories with insights on environmental sustainability and inclusiveness.

Data Sources
Future trajectories to 2025 are based on IMF-WEO GDP projections, distributions of per capita income or consumption from the World Bank, and CO2 emissions from the Global Carbon Budget 2022 and EDGAR (JRC and IEA).​

Trends & Priorities

SDG trends tracks progress from 2015 to date for the 231 indicators. National priorities are analysed using machine learning to reveal the most prominent SDGs referenced in national policy documents.

Data Sources
SDG trends tracks progress from 2015 to date for the 231 indicators. National priorities are analysed using machine learning to reveal the most prominent SDGs referenced in national policy documents.


SDG trends tracks progress from 2015 to date for the 231 indicators. National priorities are analysed using machine learning to reveal the most prominent SDGs referenced in national policy documents.

Data Sources
The exercise globally considered a total of 454 documents published from 2015 to August 2022. (Miola et al., 2019 updated in 2021-2022)​

Finance & Stimulus

Provides insight into indicators of fiscal and financial stress with options (INFF) for stimulus and other means to accelerate progress.

Data Sources
Most recent resource data from UNU-WIDER GRD (between 2018 and 2021), debt and revenue from IMF WEO (between 2020 and forecasts for 2023), external debt from IDS (2023), yields from Haver Analytics (8 June 2023), credit ratings from S&P, Moodys and FITCH (2023), and DSA ratings from World Bank/IMF (31 May 2023).