Bengaluru: Kerala has retained the top position in the third edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) index released by the Niti Aayog on Thursday.

Kerala retained its rank as the top state with a score of 75. Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh took the second spot with a score of 74. Chandigarh too maintained its top spot among the UTs with a score of 79.

The third rendition of India's SDG Index was launched by Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar on Thursday.

Our effort of monitoring SDGs through the SDG India Index and Dashboard continues to be widely noticed and applauded around the world. It remains a rare data-driven initiative to rank our states and union territories by computing a composite index on the SDGs, Kumar said.

First launched in December 2018, the index has become the primary tool for monitoring progress on the SDGs in the country and has simultaneously fostered competition among the states and union territories by ranking them on the global goals.

On the launch, NITI Aayog tweeted, "India's report card on the SDGs is here! 17 Goals, 36 States/UTs, & 115 indicators: #SDGIndiaIndex & Dashboard 2020-21 is the most comprehensive review of Flag of India’s progress towards achieving the SDGs."

"The Index measures the progress at the national and sub-national level in the country’s journey towards meeting the Global Goals and targets and has been successful as an advocacy tool to propagate the messages of sustainability, resilience, and partnerships, as well,” said Niti Aayog in a statement.

Nine out of the 16 SDGs have driven the positive push nationwide. These are good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life on land, and lastly, peace, justice, and strong institutions. However, “two goals — zero hunger and gender equality — demand special attention,” Niti Aayog’s report said.

The SDG India Index 2020–21, developed in collaboration with the United Nations in India. It tracks all States and UTs on 115 indicators aligned to the Statistics Ministry’s National Indicator Framework (NIF). The initiative to refine and improve this important tool with each edition has been steered by the need to continuously benchmark performance and measure progress and to account for the availability of the latest SDG-related data on States and UTs.