18 April 2019
SDSN Shares Findings on Local SDG Data Collection
UNESCAP. 2018. Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2017 (Figure 1.3).
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SDSN TReNDS and the USA Sustainable Cities Initiative established the Local Data Action Solutions Initiative to identify and promote replicable methods for sub-national SDG monitoring that also facilitate local action in support of the principle “leave no one behind”.

The grantees’ experiences illustrate their local SDG data efforts in seven areas.

15 April 2019: The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has published a synthesis report that shares findings from an initiative that promotes sub-national SDG monitoring in support of the 2030 Agenda’s “leave no one behind” principle. The report showcases impacts related to broadening political support for the global sustainable development agenda, encouraging action in the absence of national leadership and promoting inclusion.

SDSN’s Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (SDSN TReNDS) and the USA Sustainable Cities Initiative (USA-SCI) established the Local Data Action Solutions Initiative (LDA-SI) with the aim of identifying and promoting replicable methods for sub-national SDG monitoring that also facilitate local action in support of the principle “leave no one behind.” From 2018-2019, the initiative supported a micro-grant programme in Aruba, Brazil, Colombia, India and the US. The programme supported data localization efforts in each of the countries. SDSN captured insights from these efforts in a series of reports, a downloadable draft indicator framework and mockups of data dashboards.

The synthesis report titled, ‘Local Action to Global Replication: How Sub-national Data Efforts Support SDG Achievement,’ summarizes impacts from the five grantees’ data localization efforts. The grantees’ experiences illustrate their local SDG data efforts in seven areas:

  • Broadening political support for the global SDG agenda: LDA-SI grantees provide evidence on how to build political support at the local level, facilitating buy-in and action among local officials. In Brazil and India, national SDG strategies do not yet exist; consequently, local authorities do not yet understand the SDGs well. As a result, grantees in Brazil promoted education and training on the SDGs to enhance awareness among local stakeholders. Grantees in India worked to develop an SDG strategy around the city leadership’s priorities, which aligned with SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).
  • Supporting national SDG monitoring initiatives: The report describes how grantees developed local-level initiatives to support national-level monitoring efforts. In Aruba, grantees developed an indicator tool linking SDG indicators with values of ecosystem services to illustrate a common reporting initiative.
  • Promoting action when national leadership is absent: Brazil has established a Commission on the SDGs but does not yet have a national SDG strategy or SDG indicator framework. Grantees in Brazil collaborated to develop, test and monitor SDG indicators for metropolitan areas of the country and provide a baseline for establishing local SDG monitoring systems, even in the absence of leadership from the national government. Similarly, in the US, the national-level government has not expressed support for the SDGs, but New York City presented the first Voluntary Local Review (VLR) of the SDGs at the 2018 session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
  • Localizing indicators while also promoting coordination and comparison across cities and regions: The report shares examples of how “official” targets, indicators and measurement may not be relevant in a sub-national context. For instance, SDG target 1.1 on the international poverty line of USD 1.25 may not be appropriate in more developed economies so New York City decided to use a standard of USD 33 per day to better reflect the cost of living in the city. In Los Angeles, a team mapped the alignment between a local resilience strategy and the SDGs to develop a proposed list of indicators for stakeholders to use. A grantee in Colombia developed a set of city-level SDG indicators aligned with national targets to track SDG achievement in 35 Colombian cities.
  • Evaluating and expanding beyond official data sources: The report observes that official national-level data can be limited in some locations. When the grantee in Colombia created its SDG Indicator Framework it created two categories of importance: mandatory and aspirational indicators.
  • Incentivizing relative progress: The report finds that some cities surpassed global or national SDG targets and then set higher targets. In Los Angeles, for example, the city had already achieved SDG target 3.1 on maternal deaths, and calculated the percentage reduction that the target aims to achieve from a global baseline. Los Angeles then applied this 67 percent reduction to a new city target, aiming to reduce maternal mortality from 7 in 100,000 live births to 5 in 100,000 (rather than the official global goal of fewer than 70 per 100,000).
  • Promoting inclusion: Grantees in Brazil have emphasized inclusion and have worked to apply a list of indicators for less developed regions of the country. The Los Angeles grantee worked to promote equity and inclusion in support of all sexual orientations and gender identities, such as by changing references to “girls and boys” to “all children.”

The synthesis report concludes by underscoring the importance of local SDG data efforts in making the global SDG agenda locally relevant and actionable. The report emphasizes that local data initiatives can improve national strategies, provide leadership and promote inclusion and stakeholder engagement, among other benefits. The report suggests that these sub-national initiatives can continue to use data systems to track achievements and gaps and inform adaptive management at a local level. [Publication: Local Action to Global Replication] [LDA-SI Initiative] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on NYC VLR]

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