Silo Fighters Blog

How art is helping us promote the SDGs in Mongolia

BY Mariyam Nawaz | January 17, 2018

Curious onlookers stopped to watch graffiti artists including Heesco, Dasher, Risky, Ulaambayar and Degi paint the old wall of the United Nations House in bright colours. Each art piece, a unique and positive representation of the 17 Global Goals. The urban art installation was the kickstart of our public awareness campaign on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Mongolia. Nine Mongolian artists helped us reaching the crowds: Sydney-based Mongolian artist Heesco, Ulaanbaatar’s female artist Boldbaatar Odonchimeg, Dashkhuu, Bilguunnaran, Ulambayar, Sodbayar, Tuguldur, Boldbayar and Enkhbat Michid. It was set up on the Mongolian Youth Day (August) and the wall quickly became a landmark; everyone stopped to take a photo or two. The masterminds behind the campaign was the United Nations Communications Group, a team comprised of all the communications specialists, from all UN agencies, working in Mongolia. Our idea was simple but challenging: tell people what the SDGs could represent to Mongolia and its young people, namely, because one in every three inhabitants in Ulaanbaatar is young. Going for a spin around Ulaanbaatar to learn about the SDGs As communicators, we know that a successful campaign is made up of different elements, and we started with the basics: we developed and distributed an action guide (in Mongolian) listing how citizens could contribute to the global agenda of Mongolia. This action guide, which is also available online, was printed and handed out at every event we held. The great twist of using this guide was that we got celebrities to joined our efforts. Famous artists, journalists, models and athletes posted their photos on social media with SDG logos promoting the guide. Most of these celebrities were initially approached through a third-party media company who helped with the promotion of our campaign. With 1.1 million mongolians on networks like Facebook, social media was a key channel to spread the word. Thinking back, collaborating with celebrities in the country was essential to the success of the campaign. In addition to the art wall, booklets, and famous people advocating for the SDGs, another highlight of our campaign was a big tour bus that stopped in three different parts of the capital city. We were inspired by the Belarus train. If you haven’t seen this amazing initiative, you can check the blog here. We set up a registration link for people to sign up online and, with the support of our UN Young Advisory Panel, selected 35 people to come along, as well as media representatives and performers. And the journey begins… On October 1 2017, our seven months months of hard work, came to fruition: 35 people at the UN House hopped on the SDGs-branded bus that looks like a bandwagon. The first stop was the Ger district. Staff from UNICEF, UN-Habitat and ILO greeted everyone. Young singers from the Music and Dance Conservatory Mongolia, Enhlen Altandul, and Tengis Tserenbat won people’s hearts with their outstanding  performances. Our SDG photo frame got popular and people lined up to take photos to share in social media. Meanwhile, face painters placed streaks of red, blue and yellow paint on children’s faces as they skillfully drew SDG logos on their cheeks. After the one hour show, we drove to the most central location in Ulaanbaatar; the State Department Store, where we displayed calls for action on big standees and an SDGs photo booth. Colleagues from UNFPA, WHO and UNESCO led the way at this hub. Youth organizations including AIESEC and the Centre for Citizenship Education joined and helped make drawings on the SDGs. A young baker sold cupcakes with SDGs logos on them. The famous actor, Orgil Makhaan addressed the audience and invited everyone to take part in the country’s development. The last stop was the Light Street, which was organized by UNDP, FAO and IOM teams. The UN Resident Coordinator in Mongolia, Ms. Beate Trankmann,  joined the public too. Small children from Kung-Fu school performed and the bus tour ended, successfully. To sustain the buzz, we placed sixty small billboards with “Your Participation is Important” as a call of action across the city for 15 days. The QR code on the board directed people to the action booklet. Our campaign ended on a high note on October 24, which is UN Day. For this occasion, we developed a SDGs Cartoon brochure that tells the story of Mongolia and the SDGs. People loved it. Through the combination of social media engagement and activities like the bus tour, flashmob, and the SDGs wall, we reached more than 160,000 people of all ages. Thousands of people were reached and engaged through outdoor events, display of SDGs message on billboards, online initiatives (33,769 people engaged through blogs and stories, 78,000 on Facebook and 52,900 impressions on Twitter) and distribution of material across the country through the National Statistics Office. Traditional and new media also played an important part in getting our messages across. Leading bloggers published their stories in Yolo and UNREAD. The leading magazine Mongolian Observer did a cover story on SDGs and UN in Mongolia dedicating 17 pages. The road to success   For us at the UN in Mongolia, this campaign was a combination of success and a starting point to continue the conversation around the SDGs. Everyone at the UN in Mongolia poured their hearts to make this campaign happen, our colleagues’ energy was unstoppable! One of the things that really inspired us and fueled our energy was the amount of people (more than 40!) that showed up and volunteered, one way or the other, during the different activities of the campaign. One of the key achievements of the campaign, besides the tremendous outreach and engagement of public online and in events, was the establishment of a “SDGs supporter network” of media, bloggers, young volunteers and celebrities in the country. A big challenge that we faced through this journey was finding common grounds for each UN agency to contribute to the campaign. Each agency has its own mandates and core mission, so we invested time in coordinating our efforts to agree on a campaign strategy that helped us create clear guidelines on key messages, branding, hashtags, visibility and roles/responsibilities. Having said that, by far the best thing of all was to see the way artists used their talents to advocate for our campaign. I believe that somehow, we tend to underestimate people’s capacity to understand sustainable development. Thanks to this campaign, I got to see firsthand how passionate people are about making their country a better place for everyone. Watch this space for more, we’ve got more initiatives in the works! http://www.un-mongolia.mn/new/

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From radio to theatre, bringing the voices of youth to centre stage in Lebanon

BY Alex Shoebridge, Kristine Najjar | December 13, 2017

When we last blogged in this space in May 2016, we wrote about our plans to support the roll out of the 2030 Agenda in Lebanon. We knew that engaging the public – especially youth – would be critical. As part of our approach, we didn’t want to come in with any pre-developed solutions, but rather let young people provide the answers, even pose the questions. We wanted to enable youth-generated evidence that could be shared with policy makers and linked to national efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda. In 2016, the government wasn’t ready yet to engage on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Supporting a conversation with the public was our best and, at the time, the only option. It held the promise of generating better and less-filtered information, and creating new public spaces for citizen-to-citizen interaction to achieve the SDGs. Radio and theatre as a way to learn from young people in Lebanon Together with UNESCO and the radio station, Voix du Liban, we launched “Chabab Wa Tanmia,” a radio show produced and hosted by six young journalists that focused on bringing a youth focus to bear on the SDGs. Each week the show would cover a different SDG-related area . Young people called in from across the country to share their priorities and concerns. Subjects ranged from how to address smoking among youth (a widespread issue in Lebanon), to how to strengthen community services and support mechanisms for the elderly, and how everyday actions can help protect children’s rights.   On top of the radio show, to better understand the development perspectives of those furthest behind – such as unemployed youth or women-headed households – we collaborated with the American University in Beirut (AUB) to produce two case studies reflecting a broad set of consultations with Lebanese and Syrian refugees and other vulnerable groups. Employing playback theater – a type of improvisational and interactive theater in which people tell stories about their lives and watch them being enacted on the spot – helped people narrate the issues, such as corruption in hiring, and gender discrimination in all aspects of daily life. Theatre methods created an opportunity for youth to share their experiences and find common ground. It also meant that we, as the UN and partners, could learn from young people. One major takeaway for the theater programming centred on the need to focus on lifelong learning opportunities for families to support the development of youth. And now… a platform for government engagement These initiatives have been important for enhancing citizen-to-citizen interaction, and providing public spaces for people to express themselves. They have also been key to understanding some of the issues we should focus in the future. Having listened to more than 500 people in our engagement efforts, which includes those who participated in the radio shows, on social media, and via the national consultations spearheaded by AUB, we will be putting an increased focus on corruption, gender discrimination and child rights. Nonetheless, without government leadership we won’t have a platform to amplify what we have been hearing. Recently, the Government committed itself to working on the SDGs by establishing an inter-ministerial committee, which will be a key entry point for UN engagement in supporting the roll-out of the SDG agenda. The committee provides a forum to bring all ongoing SDG initiatives under one umbrella, which is a real opportunity to connect what we heard from people to political decision-makers. Together with the government, civil society and the private sector, we aim for our work to feed into a national multi-stakeholder consultation process that reflects the priorities and perspectives of those left farthest behind. People informing priorities As a result of our consultation process with youth, corruption, gender discrimination and child rights will be highlighted in our deliberations with the government and will inform our work planning for 2018. Things may shift in Lebanon’s current political environment. But the country has weathered many a political storm – and it is not easily shipwrecked. We are hopeful that the work that has been done will lead to tangible results for the people of the country, and leave no one behind.   Do you have experience utilizing key findings from youth engagement activities and elevating them to the national level? What have you learned?

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Bringing Brazil back office innovations into the spotlight

BY Maria Helena Mizuno Moreira | December 6, 2017

At the beginning of 2016, Nesta predicted that back office innovations would take center stage.   In the case of the UN in Brazil, this prediction was spot on. If you work outside the United Nations system you might assume that we consistently pool our resources. But we don't. This is largely due to the fact that the UN organisations were created one by one by the UN Member States over the last 70 years, and the different UN organisations therefore had to set up their own internal management structures - not unlike different ministries in a government. In the past, cost savings have been pursued UN agency by UN agency within their sometimes very different business models. As part of the drive for better services and reduced costs, however, the UN has been reconsidering this model, and are trying out new methods for pooling back office functions to better serve the populations we work for.    The UN in Brazil is one of the four integrated business centers across the UN system that are piloting this new way of working. We named it the Joint Operations Facility, or the JOF (yes, we love acronyms in the UN!). The other integrated business pilots are in Cape Verde, Copenhagen and Viet Nam. In Brazil, we began 18 months ago with the idea of simplifying business processes and integrating services across UN entities. Out of 22 funds, programmes, and specialized agencies working in Brazil, six agencies endorsed this project: UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, UN Women, UNOPS and UN Environment, with UNAIDS as a partner agency. With the support of the UNDG Business Operations Working Group and the UN High-Level Committee on Management, we conducted a strategic review of business operations in the country. We assessed our procurement, IT and human resources needs and created a business case for pulling these back office functions together. This analysis was the official start of our Joint Operations Facility in Brazil. What does integrating business operations really mean? Setting up this facility meant creating a new team to fully address the new needs of these agencies in country. We created new positions for procurement, travel, ICT and a manager that oversees the work of the team. The JOF Manager reports to the UN Resident Coordinator, who shares the governance of the facility with the six agencies participating in the initiative. For decisions, we follow the General Assembly “one vote one voice” principle, so each agency has an equal say regardless of the size or volume of goods or funds they channel through the facility. Now 18 months later, we are proud to say that the members of this facility are working together on a single service platform centralizing procedures and business operations in the areas of procurement, travel, information and communications technology. Centralizing services allows for several benefits such a sharing the costs and risks, and allowing staff to specialise and therefore increase the quality of services. The bumpy parts As with any new endeavor, the UN in Brazil faced several obstacles including entrenched practices, cultural clashes, and different ways of thinking. Some entities felt that they took an unfair financial hit and perceived a disadvantage in their business services, while smaller entities already counted on the facility to sustain their activities. Other lessons that we learned during this 18 months of journey are: Never underestimate transition periods: What we realized during the process is that setting up solid administrative support services requires an investment, and the transition period shouldn’t be underestimated. Technology to the rescue: The ICT tools that the facility used were initially connected with specific UN entities’ requirement. We soon learned that this was too complex. A second generation of ICT applications and portal will be released soon allowing automated monitoring to improve control, transparency and operational efficiency. When duplication happens, breathe, and phase it out: Some of the participating agencies preferred to keep parallel internal operational structures. This was redundant to the purpose of the Joint Operations Facility, and agencies quickly realized that it was not sustainable and these structures are being phased out gradually. The lack of a global UN-wide common procurement manual has been a challenge, and we are trying to identify and adopt already existing operational good practices across the UN system to have a common framework. As a work-around, we are now working on our own common manual for procurement to consolidate practices including the adoption of a harmonized procurement manual. This has been a difficult and time consuming process. We believe that by expanding and providing additional procurement services, as well as launching the shared human resource services, we will ensure the sustainability and relevance of the facility. We are currently negotiating the provision of services to more agencies through service legal agreements, we will keep you posted in the number of agencies joining us! The silver lining It’s safe to say that our hard work ultimately paid off. Since launching the facility in March 2016, we are developing new procedures and tools to streamline our work. By simplifying and revamping our internal business flows, we we are reducing our common operation footprint while improving the collective efficiency and saving costs. What’s next? In terms of next steps, some already see the opportunity to expand this facility into a regional hub. As the only integrated service center in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, building in the current structure we would have the potential to provide business operations services to multiple countries to increase cost savings and improve quality of office services. So we feel that this is just the beginning of an exciting project. Despite the hurdles, we trust that we are on the right track and will continue to support the United Nations to think outside the box and construct innovative, efficient and effective mechanisms to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

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How we helped the UN use #dataviz for social change

BY Chloe Tseng | November 29, 2017

Working in the city of innovation, San Francisco, I’m surrounded by big tech giants and people who strive to make the world a better place. Early last year, Helena Price, a Silicon Valley photographer, started a project "Techies." She interviewed and took 100 portraits of underrepresented minorities who work in tech. Her project challenged the stereotypes and encouraged tech companies to hire a more diverse workforce.   Her message “everyone can leverage her/his own strength to make a difference” inspired me to initiate my personal project #VizforSocialGood. I created a series of data visualizations that illustrate challenges women face and shared them on Twitter to promote gender equality. After giving a talk about #VizforSocialGood at the Tableau Conference last November, I received a great amount of interest from the audience in contributing their skills. Therefore, I decided to transform my small project into a community that helps mission-driven organizations harness the power of data visualization for social change. In the past 10 months, Viz for Social Good has grown into a community with more than 500 volunteers globally. We have partnered with several organizations, including the United Nations Children's Fund to visualize and increase awareness of the child refugee crisis; the United Nations Development Programme to analyze people’s views on poverty, inequality, and climate change to influence global leaders; and Stanford University to identify factors holding women back in science, technology engineering and math. Getting the conversation started with the UN Development Group During my quest to build partnerships with nonprofits, I stumbled upon the United Nations Development Group’s Data Visualization Contest sponsored by Tableau. I saw this as a sign that the UN was craving for data visualization, and thus I reached out and proposed a collaboration. In the first conversation with the UNDG team, I was impressed by their enthusiasm for data. I also saw countless, untapped opportunities for data visualization that could empower staff to carry out their missions. This conversation ignited my desire to bridge the data literacy and technology gap for the UN. That’s how we started our journey!   The fun and not so fun bits For this particular project with UNDG, our goal was to scope the UN Country Teams’ external partnerships and topics that they were working on in 2017. We quickly discovered that the data had 445 columns, and thus reshaping data was needed. We also learned that some of the value in the data were entered manually by staff, so the data was not always consistent. Therefore, it took us some time to “clean up” the data and make sure that the value is consistent across the board (for more details you can check Michael Mixon blog Anatomy of a Viz). Having said that, we truly enjoyed working with the UNDG team! They were genuinely curious about learning everything on data and data visualization (as proof, you can check the recording of our webinar where we got more than 200 participants!). Their passion was contagious and encouraged all of us to keep moving forward with this project. It’s certainly fulfilling to see how our visualizations have been used to educate people internally and externally, and have helped the team understand their own data. Check out the selected data visualizations by clicking on the images! Author: Neil Richards Author: Chloe Tseng Author: Michael Mixon Author: Lilach Manheim Author: Ivett Kovács Getting involved with Viz for Social Good First the good news: anyone can become a volunteer. Viz for Social Good is a community, not a competition, that allows everyone to enjoy creating visualization while making a positive impact. Each project is just like a virtual hackathon -- we receive a data visualization project request from nonprofit, we share the project with the community online, and anyone who is passionate about the social cause can jump in. People can then share their data visualizations on Twitter using the hashtag #VizforSocialGood. It’s always fun to see how each volunteer analyzes and interprets the same data in a very different way. To join the community visit: https://www.vizforsocialgood.com/  Our future plans Next year, for nonprofits, we want to scale our impact by not only designing visualizations for them but also strengthening their skills through presentations and trainings. Also, we would like to get involved with many other more social causes that we haven’t worked on this year, such as LGBT issues, racism, and wildlife.   For volunteers, we hope to provide them more growth opportunities through in-person hackathons in their areas. Our community mostly connects virtually, so we would like to have local events for people to get together, talk about a social cause, and visualize it. Don’t be shy, come and join our community!

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Crowdfunding for smart cities in Albania

BY Jorina Kadare, Stefania Sechi | November 14, 2017

Let’s start with a little bit of recent history. Innovative financing for the UN goes back to the International Conference on Financing for Development in 2002. The hope was that innovative financing would help to bridge the gap between what was available and what was needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. As the name suggests, innovative finance means raising funds for development by using unconventional mechanisms. For example, micro-levies, public-private partnerships, and other mechanisms that go beyond financial contributions. It can also mean optimising the use of traditional funding sources to transfer assets to where they are needed the most. Fast forward to 2012, when the UN, governmental institutions, and donors started to mull over realistic ways to finance the achievement of the Global Goals by 2030, bearing in mind the estimated total costs which vary between $90 and $ 120 trillion, and with a funding gap of $2.5 trillion per year. The concept of innovative financing came up again. #Crowdfunding4Children We at the UN in Albania decided to test out alternative forms of financing, which are progressively being mainstreamed across the agency’s interventions. Ever since the internet made it possible to use crowdfunding to finance projects, individuals and the private sector have used this new tool to their advantage, so why not us? We saw the potential of using crowdfunding as an integral part of our mission to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Our first successful experiment was a crowdfunding campaign launched in July 2016 that allowed the construction of the first all-inclusive playground in Albania suitable for children with special needs and diverse abilities. This work builds on our previous  open data project with the Municipality of Tirana where we blended and opened up data sets on safety of our cities in the  Open Data Portal of Tirana Smart City. Out of 22 play grounds currently under management by the Municipality of Tirana, only one is suitable for children with special needs. Building better parks will help all children interact with their peers and develop their personalities in a safe and healthy environment.  And it went pretty well! By tapping into a large pool of individuals, mainly via social media and crowdfunding platforms, and through advocacy initiatives we raised our goal of $20,000 for the #Crowdfunding4Children campaign. Supporting youth employment through equity crowdfunding UNDP, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Women are also testing out how to build financial connections between mature enterprises willing to invest in promising start-ups through equity crowdfunding. The goal is to set up a sustainable system that supports emerging businesses. United Nations Albania, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tirana, was able to engage with 100 VIP companies in an exploration survey, probing their potential participation in equity crowdfunding schemes. Another component of this joint initiative relates to the assessment of a reward-based crowdfunding model among small communities in Tirana. This tool allows individuals to contribute towards a specific project with the anticipation of receiving a tangible –non-financial– reward at a later date. We are building on this model by involving private services providers. For example, integrating the option to financially contribute to a social project at the time as making a routine payment, for example, for an electricity or telecommunications service bill.  We hope that these alternative mechanisms will play an important role in transforming Tirana into a smart city. We believe that crowdfunding deserves more trust in the development world. Crowdsourcing enables resource mobilisation, promotes innovative initiatives, and galvanises active citizenship!

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‘Glocalizing’ the Sustainable Development Goals in Moldova

BY Aurelia Spataru | October 20, 2017

Almost two years ago, 193 Member States of the United Nations, including Moldova, adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This bold and universal Agenda already has many countries around the world taking action to improve people’s lives and plan for a sustainable future.   In Moldova’s case, planting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in national soil and turning the 2030 Agenda into a reality has been quite the journey! The good news is that  Moldova’s national policy agenda is now aligned with more than 106 of the SDGs targets and it selected 226 global indicators to assess progress towards these global goals. 'Glocalizing' the SDGs targets The UN resolution says that the SDG targets are “aspirational and global, with each government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances.” The beauty of the SDGs is that they’re inclusive of everyone, so our first step was to identify which of the 169 global targets are  most urgent for the Moldovan context. This is what we mean by ‘glocalizing’ - localising a global set of goals while benefitting from the drive of the whole world towards the same ambition. So here’s how we 'glocalize': The UN in Moldova worked through 180 of the government of Moldova’s main national strategic documents to find connections between the Moldovan local reality and the global targets. We found immediate points of contact with almost two thirds of the global targets. Once we gathered this information, we spoke with public servants, civic activists, community and business leaders, and researchers. We wanted to know their thoughts on the SDG targets. If a target was not immediately applicable, then, we wanted to know how it could be adjusted to make it more concrete and specific to the Moldovan context. During the consultations, we jointly defined who would be the responsible government institution to take action and ownership so that we reach the targets. With a fresh pair of eyes, we looked at the national strategic documents again to identify all policy-related gaps that needed to be addressed. We also provided proposals to amend policies and introduce new concepts of sustainable development to deepen the focus on the most vulnerable populations, for example, adding a specific target to understand how many people fall into poverty due to natural disasters such as floods, droughts and landslides. The 2030 Agenda is a complex one, and Moldova is in full swing towards reforming its central administration. The country doesn’t have enough financial resources to cover all the costs at once. So, taking this into consideration, we set priorities and came up with a list of “triggers” that would produce a domino effect and help us reach the other linked targets. Crowdsourcing how to measure SDG progress in Moldova The Moldovan government is currently only prepared to report on half of the nationalized indicators because of financial, capacity and methodological constraints. When we realized this, we knew that we would need to engage experts across many disciplines in order to develop methodologies and data collection.     Under the leadership of the State Chancellery and the direct involvement of the National Bureau of Statistics, we worked for nine months to tailor global targets and indicators to fit the situation on the ground. Talking to different stakeholders (public authorities, civil society, and the private sector) was decisive to our success. Their valuable inputs and insights for tailoring global targets and indicators to the national context represented the first step in assuming of the 2030 Agenda by the people of Moldova. Trying to figure all of this out was no easy feat, so we developed a toolkit which will also help us with the further integration of the SDGs’ into the work of both government and partners in the next stage. The Council for Sustainable Development, which was set up as an institutional anchor to the SDGs nationalization process endorsed and disseminated all of our collective efforts. The process to nationalize the SDGs in Moldova has even catalysed a broader reform aimed at streamlining the policy planning framework. Given the success, the Government has asked the UN to support in the evaluation of its current national strategy and the new Strategy Moldova 2030. Even after all this… the work has just begun! Do you have any advice for us?  Let us know!

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Sustainable Development Goals Are Country-Led And Country-Owned

BY Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco | September 22, 2017

Over the past 20 years, the world has seen unprecedented progress of human development, as nearly 1.1 billion people have moved out of extreme poverty. But unfinished business remains. Today, roughly 800 million people still live in extreme poverty and inequalities are growing. It was with this in mind that world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) almost two years ago. This is the most ground-breaking development agenda the world has seen, for it contains a radical promise: to leave no one behind. It is a promise to every man and woman who goes to bed hungry, every boy and girl who is deprived of education, every person who is fleeing violent conflict. Put to practice everywhere, this promise transforms our world! You may ask what a set of goals and high-flown words on paper can do to address these enormous challenges in practice. It is a fair question. But the answer is- a lot! The City of Montería in Colombia has become one of Latin America’s greenest cities by linking green urbanism, transportation and renewable energy to the SDGs. In Mexico, a project on reduced inequalities focusing on children with disabilities has improved the lives of 12,000 boys and girls. 350 caregivers in 9 states have been trained in this UN-supported project to increase the quality of care, give better opportunities to children with disabilities to complete schooling, and ultimately increase their prospects of leading a life as fully empowered members of society. In Kyrgyzstan, supported by the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund, local self-governing authorities and citizens have jointly identified and implemented more than 120 local infrastructure projects aimed at smoothing tensions over scarce natural resources. Multilingual education has reached more than 9,000 students, helping to increase inter-ethnic understanding and enhance the prospects of success for historically marginalized groups. These efforts contribute to achieving the SDGs and address root causes of conflict. The leadership demonstrated by citizens and governments in these countries show the SDGs to be country-led and country-owned, and relevant everywhere. Now, a particular challenge is to reach the 1.4 billion people that today live in fragile and conflict-affected situations. With the concept of “sustaining peace”, endorsed by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council, the world is recognizing that there cannot be peace without development and no development without peace. The United Nations is moving away from a narrow focus on time-bound peacekeeping interventions to emphasize efforts for long-term sustainable peace. This encompasses the imperative of conflict prevention and addressing root causes and drivers of violence. It also includes the need to address all stages of the conflict cycle, the importance of breaking siloes and formulate comprehensive and coherent approaches, as well as the need to ensure national ownership and inclusivity. For countries on the move from violent conflict to peace and democratic rule, the 2030 Agenda can indeed be a powerful lever for change. The world has the largest generation of young people ever. 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 are preparing for their future. This is by itself an incredible opportunity for change. In many countries in transition, youth has played a key role in instigating change. In the Gambia, the youth population was crucial in choosing a peaceful path away from authoritarian rule nine months ago. In a country where a disproportionate number of young people risk their life to cross the Mediterranean in search for a better life, this new chapter is an opportunity to build a more open and inclusive society. Like the Gambian youth, people have engaged to make the SDGs come alive across the globe. Over 10 million people voiced their priorities during the run up to the Agenda’s launch in 2015. Now we need more people to do the same. We need new ways of working together, we need investment bankers to work with environmental activists, religious leaders with feminist organizations, sports leaders with disabled young people. To spur this development, the UN is strengthening its support to Member States for the implementation of the SDGs around the world. We know that the 2030 Agenda is a bold plan for humanity that requires equally bold changes to the UN development system to ensure that we support countries as effectively as possible. This also means better connecting our efforts across the peace and security, human rights and development pillars of the organization to achieve sustainable development on the ground. (Context: On 21 September 2017, the UN Development Group held a side-event to the UN General Assembly: “The SDGs in action – Country-led, Country-Owned”. The event focused on initiatives and lessons learned to accelerate progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in different countries and regions, including in vulnerable and conflict-affected settings.) Photography: ©FAO/Antonello Proto

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Using Machine Learning to Accelerate Sustainable Development Solutions in Uganda

September 14, 2017

A year and a half after it was prototyped, the radio content analysis tool developed by Pulse Lab Kampala and partners has become fully operational. The findings and lessons learned during the process were compiled in a report entitled: “Using Machine Learning to Analyse Radio Content in Uganda - Opportunities for Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action.” The recent Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Good Global Summit has brought together partners to define a roadmap for governments, industry, academia, media, and civil society to develop AI in a safe, responsible and ethical manner benefiting all segments of society. At the summit, the radio content analysis tool was showcased as one of the applications of AI currently in use at the UN. The tool was designed to leverage public radio content as a source of information to inform on issues relevant to sustainable development. The most complex part in the development of the prototype is capturing the transcription of spoken words into written text. This technology, called speech recognition, is used in applications ranging from simple voice dialing (e.g. "Call home") to fully automatic speech-to-text processing where every word is being converted into text (e.g. dictation to a document or email). The world’s largest IT companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM, invest significant resources in speech recognition for their products. There are also companies that specialise in speech recognition as Nuance Communications (Apple’s supplier) or HTK. This type of companies offer automatic speech-to-text dictation in about 50 languages, but languages and dialects from the African continent are not available among them. The radio content analysis tool was developed as part of a project conducted by Pulse Lab Kampala in collaboration with the Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The tool works by converting public discussions that take place on radio in various African languages into text. Once converted, the text can be searched for topics of interest. The tool is now fully functional in the Northern and Central regions of Uganda and available for three languages: Luganda, Acholi and English (as spoken in the country). The report outlines the methodology and processes of the radio content analysis tool, distills the technology behind its creation and presents the lessons learned along the way. It also details the results of several pilot studies that were conducted together with partners from the Government, UN agencies and academia to understand the validity and value of unfiltered public radio discussions for development. The hope is that the processes and lessons detailed in the report can serve as examples and inspiration for using radio talk and data analytics to inform decision-making processes in development and humanitarian scenarios, in contexts where other sources of data may be missing or insufficient. Using Machine Learning to Analyse Radio Content in Uganda from Global Pulse Uganda’s population is the youngest in the world, with 77% of its population being under 30 years of age. The country is now gaining international recognition for the development of Artificial Intelligence products by its youth.Listen to insights from the young Ugandans working at Pulse Lab Kampala on the development of the radio content analysis tool.   Cross-posted from the United Nations Global Pulse Blog.

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Why we’re turning to solar energy at the UN in Namibia

BY Caroline M Nkuziwalela, Saidu Kamara | August 2, 2017

On Saturday, 25 March 2017, UN Namibia took part in the global Earth Hour movement. We joined millions of people from every corner of the world to show support for climate action.  Our participation in this movement proves critical in that, saving electricity today, we establish better energy saving habits which lead to a brighter, better future. It’s easier said than done though. Did you know that in Namibia, between 40 to 80 percent of energy is imported from South Africa, which is facing shortages and has regular energy cuts? To tackle this, following the United Nations Partnership Framework agreement, we will assist the Government strategically to develop its own energy sources, prioritizing solar energy, for energy security and secure commitment towards a low carbon development pathway. Turn on the lights, sustainably What if we told you that the UN House in Windhoek is going to turn into a self-sustaining, energy efficient building? The UN House is comprised of 12 UN agencies, all of whom participate in the conversion to a solar photovoltaic PV system. A photovoltaic system, or solar power system, is designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics and is being widely scaled as a primary source of renewable energy in many facilities across Africa. Imagine how much energy we could save if the lights at the office automatically switch off after 10 minutes of inactivity. Simple habits can make a difference in the way we use electricity.   For this reason, we launched last week a grid-interactive solar photovoltaic (PV) system at UN House. The facility will make up for a portion of electrical energy consumption and it will also help us save money. As Namibia receives a high amount of sunlight, this move towards renewable energy promotes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goal 7 ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ and is in line with the UN’s mission of Greening the Blue. The recommended system size of 90 kWp will offset 19 percent annual energy use, with a 20 percent reduction in electricity costs annually. That’s a lot! The expected internal rate of return when this project is cash financed is 21.5 percent. This means we expect to break-even after five years. The solar panel system is not a backup solution but rather an energy subsidy system. When the solar panels produce more energy than is consumed, the difference is fed back into the national electric grid, increasing the availability of power distribution across the city of Windhoek.  Investing in Namibia’s Renewable Energy Plans Due to poor insulation, inefficient lights, appliances, and heating and cooling equipment, we pay more for energy costs than we should. This is money we could save by investing in energy efficiency. In partnership with the Namibia Energy Institute, we plan to update the existing energy audit for the UN.  We will also carry out a cost-benefit analysis to improve increasing energy efficiency by switching to energy-saving devices. Moreover, by installing a solar energy system, we can focus on renewable energy, particularly solar, without having to increase the price of our electricity. With the help of renewable energy experts, we are supporting the government of the Republic of Namibia on a large-scale feasibility plan for Namibia’s first concentrated power plant. A concentrated power plant uses mirrors to focus the sun's light energy and convert it into heat to create steam to drive a turbine that generates electrical power. In addition, we are also researching how to transfer this technology to the country, i.e. exploring the potential for manufacturing solar panels locally, PV parts/equipment, and building capacities and skills for the renewable energies industry. Given the size of the sector in Namibia, we also supported a project tasked with experimenting different approaches to generating bio-energy through the use of agricultural waste. Our main goal is to learn from the previous work and engage the Namibia Energy Institute in technical advisory and support capacity. We’re excited about the possibilities that solar energy can bring to our work and Namibia. We will keep you posted on our journey there!

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Sustainable development and sustaining peace: Two sides of the same coin

BY Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco | July 20, 2017

More than 1.4 billion people, and half of the world’s extremely poor people live in fragile and conflict-affected settings. The number is forecast to grow by a staggering 82 per cent by 2030. Around 244 million people are on the move, with 65 million people in our world being forcibly displaced. You might assume that for countries in the cross hairs of these dynamics, the last thing on anyone’s mind right now is getting on track to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If you did, think again. Sustainable development is key to sustaining peace and vice versa. Sustaining peace, a concept endorsed by the UN General Assembly and Security Council, focuses on the importance of having a long-term, comprehensive vision in all responses to violent conflict, to end vicious cycles of lapse and relapse. Many countries in complex situations have embraced the SDGs as part of the solution. Afghanistan, for example, is presenting its plans at this year’s UN High-Level Political Forum, the global platform for SDG follow-up and review. At the same forum, Togo, a self-declared ‘fragile’ state, is showcasing its SDG initiatives for the second year running. And Colombia, one of the masterminds of the SDGs, considers them an integral tool in its peacebuilding process. Traditionally peace has been approached in sequential and separate steps: first humanitarian rescue; then securing a ceasefire and sending in peacekeepers; next creating a new governing system; and finally investing in economic, social and environmental development. But peacebuilding and development are symbiotic, like getting fit: you would not stop smoking for a month, exercise the next month, then eat well the following month - you would work on all together. This is why the 2030 Agenda that contains the SDGs and the Resolutions on the UN’s peacebuilding architecture call for the dissolution of silos and the advancement of a strongly coherent and integrated approach, recognizing that development, peace and security, and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. The radical heart of the Sustainable Development Goals is their promise to leave no one behind and to reach the furthest behind first. This is a game-changing commitment to the poorest, most vulnerable people around the world who face violent conflict, disease, natural disaster, and unstable government. Old development agendas might focus on boosting a narrow idea of economic growth, industrialisation or social services. Alone, none of these achievements leads to welfare, sustainable economic transformation or sufficient support to a peace process. They could even worsen tensions in a country if growth is not inclusive, services are captured by an elite or industrialisation generates unbalances between regions. A rising tide only lifts all boats if everyone has a boat. The UN’s new sustainable development agenda builds on its past experience in reducing poverty, supporting growth and public services. But it goes further to provide the funds and tools to also address environmental risks, reduce vulnerabilities and pursue peace, justice and equality. Sustaining peace and sustainable development are two sides of the same coin, and this is the fundamental principle that the United Nations of the 21st century must now stand for. For any country to reach a lasting peace, the journey must always be led by its own people. The role of the UN is to support this journey, providing the experience, expertise and using the convening power at its disposal to give countries in crisis the best chance at stability and prosperity. Peace is not simply a benchmark to achieve. It requires ongoing, dynamic participation from the entire society in its governance and economy to ensure that conflicts don’t escalate into violence. That is why a country’s development must be inclusive and sustainable; it gives everyone a stake in a shared future. On 17 July 2017, the UN Development Group held a side-event for the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, co-hosted by UNDP and PBSO, on: “The SDGs in action – eradicating poverty and promoting inclusive prosperity in a changing world.”  The event focussed on how countries at various stages of development, including those faced with violent conflict, are accelerating efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and illustrated the support of the UN development system to Member States.   Photo credit: Mónica Suárez Galindo/UNDP Perú

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Open data for social good in the Kyrgyz Republic

BY Markel Toromyrza uulu | June 30, 2017

At the UN in Kyrgyzstan, we believe that open and reliable data is essential to data-driven decision making by key policy makers and other organizations that use data for social good. As Ashish Soni, a machine-learning and data-science expert, says, there are five characteristics which constitute building blocks for data analysis and decision making:       Accurate: data and information must be reliable and accurate       Complete: partial data depicts a partial picture; completeness of data and information is essential for sound decisions       Consistent: systematic collection using consistent methodology and updates are important for data users and decision makers       Unique: good decisions need high-quality data and information       Timely: new and current data is more valuable than outdated data With this and the current national situation in mind, we worked with the country’s National Statistical Committee developing an open data website and the StatKG mobile application to make specific national data available to everyone free of charge. The app and the website rely on the data provided by the National Statistical Committee, an institution with unique and reputable methodology and tools to collect, analyse and interpret raw data. 24,000+ data points in Russian, Kyrgyz and English The open data portal and mobile app is our attempt to  reflect reliable and open data in Kyrgyzstan related to the Sustainable Development Goals and it is a one-of-a-kind in the Commonwealth of Independent States region. The mobile app also supports data in English, Kyrgyz, and Russian languages. We think it’s pretty cool that  the application is not just an electronic handbook of statistical data, but also a powerful tool which allows comparison across different data points.  This thing is packed:  3,293 indicators across 312 categories with a total amount of 24,731 indicator values. We believe that this tool will be  useful for government decision makers, journalists, academia, NGOs and international agencies dealing with development issues. Both are convenient ways to get accurate, complete, consistent, unique, and timely data on various social, economic, and environmental aspects of life in Kyrgyzstan. Developing the website and its mobile app was a laborious process where a team of experts, IT specialists and statisticians from the National Statistical Committee spent long days trying to simplify vast dynamic tables to come up with a user-friendly way to visualize statistical data. Working on a beta version allowed us to identify bugs and errors that we could successfully fix. We are now proud to share the we have a user-friendly powerful tool on statistical data and analysis.  And this was just the beginning! Want to learn more? Now that we have these new tools, a team of national experts is working to increase their analytical capability. The Government of the Kyrgyz Republic is working on taking the globally agreed goals and targets and finding ways to measure them that work for the Kyrgyz Republic. This will help us establish a solid baseline to monitor the SDGs, support the government, and strengthen UN accountability through monitoring and evaluation. Pretty impressive, right? If you want to know more, go and check out our free of charge statistical data and analysis tool. Have a look at it and let us know what you think!   Photo:UNFPA/Y-PEER Kyrgyzstan

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Car sharing at the United Nations in Laos? There’s an app for that

BY Zumrad Sagdullaeva, Jakob Schemel | June 23, 2017

How many of you have taken Uber, Lyft or Didi Chuxing to get around town? With these apps, all you need to do is follow three easy steps: set up a pickup location, a final destination, and press “request.” What if we told you that the United Nations is getting into the car sharing business too? Our goal is not to make money, but instead to save costs, be more efficient, and reduce our carbon footprint. It all started with agencies making spontaneous phone calls and sending emails to request cars when they need to conduct project monitoring or meetings with government and civil society partners.  We noticed that in Lao PDR, smaller UN agencies cannot always afford to buy vehicles and often rent cars. On the other hand, the bigger agencies own cars but do not always use them. Inspired by mobile apps that are disrupting the transportation industry, our team at the United Nations proposed a solution: a GPS-based, fleet-sharing application that allows staff from different UN agencies to book a UN vehicle and provides back-office data. Pool managers assign drivers, monitor vehicle performance, and pick up passengers as needed. In September 2016, we launched the pilot UN car sharing system. FAO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP and WHO, the six largest UN agencies in Lao PDR, were the frontrunners in trying out this new system.   The system tracks fleet movement in real-time, while the back-office processes allow an in-depth analysis of fleet use and performance. It also pinpoints high-risk events such as extreme acceleration, harsh braking, and accidents. It also generates automatic monthly cost-recovery reports. Imagine the data possibilities! Join the ride As people began to use the car sharing service, we faced some uphill battles. For example,  most  drivers employed by the UN do not have smartphones. Then there’s the unit costs of the system which is US$30 per car, per month, in addition to initial investment costs. But these issues haven’t proven prohibitive, and the indications are that we are moving in a promising direction. Our data shows a 36 per cent drop in fuel costs when comparing the car sharing pilot (October 2016-April 2017) to the same period in the previous year. And there might even be a benefit when it comes to traffic and carbon emissions: we noticed a 26 per cent reduction in kilometers driven. This is surprising because we aren't all in one office - most UN agencies are located across the city of Vientiane. With all the hype and positive results that we received, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the International Organization of Migration, UNAIDS, and UNIDO have now also joined the fleet-sharing pilot.   The UN Country Team has included the fleet-sharing system as one of the key areas of cooperation under the Business Operations Strategy 2017-2021, which is how we pool logistics and other functions across the 17 UN agencies working in Lao PDR to save money and get better services.   We are planning a cost-benefit analysis after the pilot stage ends in June. The road ahead So, will the GPS enhanced car sharing app work for the UN? We are yet to find out. We do know that we can improve it by doing a few more things, such as: Systematic use of the online booking system: This will lead to using cars efficiently, which, on the long run, means more savings. Centralize the management of the pool of cars: This could be done by assigning one person a month to manage the pool of cars among UN agencies. Book cars for transfer time only: Some users still require the car to stand idle for the duration of their meeting. This makes sense for brief meetings only. Track the availability of a vehicle/driver: If drivers are unavailable, this should be noted in the system to avoid any impractical requests by users. Improve the user-friendliness of the system: Integrate a GPS-based booking function, add the possibility to book a return trip in one go, and “join the ride” auto-function. Develop a mobile application. Integrate instant user feedback feature: Upon completing a ride, the system should automatically prompt a request for feedback from users. Benefits should outweigh the costs: The monthly maintenance fee sums up to US$360 a year, per car for the post-pilot period. We should consider the functional requirements or explore using an alternate software provider.     By adding these features, we believe that car sharing could bring significant savings, improve efficiency, and it could potentially be scaled-up globally. We also hope that sharing our experience will be useful to other teams trying to do things differently within the UN!

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Brazil: Engaging multiple stakeholders to implement and track the progress of the 2030 Agenda

February 4, 2017

National ownership The Government of Brazil has been a long-standing champion of sustainable development as the host of the 1992 Earth Summit and the 2012 Rio+20 Conference. The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) has represented the Mercosur countries and Chile on the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Indicators and has been elected as the new Chair of the UN Statistical Commission, actively contributing to the task of developing the SDG indicators at the global level. Both IBGE and the Interministerial Working Group on the Post-2015 Development Agenda — encompassing 27 ministries and bodies of federal administration — have undertaken consultations with different stakeholders to reflect Brazil’s contribution to implementing the SDGs. Inclusive participation The UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre) relaunched the Rio Dialogues space in 2015 with a focus on an interactive SDG space for Brazilian youth to learn about the SDGs and how to get involved. There have been several outreach and live events to help support the effort, which has attracted considerable interest from universities and other groups. In 2016, for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, there has been intense work to design a new institutional arrangement at the national level, with the aim of involving different stakeholders in implementing and following up the 2030 Agenda, including the SDGs. Institutional coordination The Task Force on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (whose name was later changed to Task Force on the 2030 Agenda) was established in December 2014 to facilitate cooperation between the Brazilian federal government and UN entities on the issues of the new agenda. The Task Force is co-chaired by the Brazilian federal government, represented by the Ministry of External Relations, and brings together a full complement of UN entities including UNDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNESCO, UNFPA, UN Women, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the PanAmerican Health Organization (PAHO)/WHO, UNODC, UNIDO, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), ILO, UN-Habitat, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR-CERRD), UNICEF, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNV, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG)/UNDP. In addition, the Brazilian Committee of the Global Compact Network is an observer member representing the private sector. Monitoring and reporting One of the main purposes of the Task Force is to contribute to identifying national social, economic and environmental indicators related to specific SDGs and their targets. In September 2015, the Task Force issued its publication ‘Following-up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Initial inputs from the United Nations System in Brazil on the identification of national indicators related to the Sustainable Development Goals’. Sixteen thematic groups covering SDGs 1–16 worked over nine months to produce the report, identifying around 570 indicators and highlighting data gaps regarding relevant information needed to follow up certain SDG targets. In 2016, the Task Force is planning to review its publication in light of the global indicator framework. This publication presented available national indicators as inputs for the follow-up process on the SDGs targets, which will be led by the Brazilian government. The Task Force will also launch a set of glossaries containing key terms and expressions used in the formulation of the SDGs and their targets.

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Turkmenistan: Localizing the SDGs and creating a monitoring system with an inclusive approach

November 9, 2016

Following the UN Sustainable Development Summit where the President of Turkmenistan demonstrated his support to the 2030 Agenda and the country’s commitment to realize the SDGs, the country established a joint government–UN SDG Task Group consisting of 20 national agencies. The Task Group includes the Mejlis (Parliament) of Turkmenistan, diverse sector ministries of Economy and Development, Finance, Health, Education, Labour and Social Protection, Agriculture and Water, Justice, the State Committee for Environment Protection and Land Resources, the Turkmen National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights and the State Statistics Committee. The Task Group immediately approved a structured three-stage roll-out process including: national consultations, focused on each of the SDGs, to discuss and agree on the goals and targets to be adopted; incorporation of goals and targets into the next Presidential Socio-Economic Plan for 2017–2021 and sector plans and programmes; and creation of a national system to measure progress in implementing the SDGs. Reviewing existing plans and adapting the SDGs to the national context The Government of Turkmenistan hosted 17 days of national consultations during March 2016 in collaboration with the UN. This was a novel beginning to the country’s journey towards 2030. Each full-day session was jointly led by a government ministry and the UN and provided an opportunity to adjust the SDGs or define national indicators. On average 9 to 10 national ministries and departments were represented at each meeting, along with two representatives from the National Statistical Office. These consultations led to 121 out of 169 global targets being recommended for adoption without modification, while an additional 27 targets were modified; 109 of the 231 global indicators were recommended for adoption without modification, and 50 were modified. In addition, 39 national indicators were formulated, resulting in a total of 198 indicators. This list of recommendations is being submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers for formal approval. Through the consultations, line ministries were able to openly exchange views and hold intersectoral discussions on sensitive topics, including discrepancies in data and HIV/AIDS indicators. The consultations provided an opportunity for capacity development by discussing in depth what each goal, target and indicator meant for the national context. They also contributed to building trust between the government and the UN for the work to follow. Inclusive participation During the process of defining the 2030 Agenda, Turkmenistan, with support from the UN, held country consultations to discuss the lessons learned from the implementation of the MDGs, to inform the public of the global discussions on the SDGs and seek their inputs into the 2030 Agenda. These consultations engaged with diverse stakeholders such as parliamentarians, academics, youth and school children (the Youth Union), women (the Women’s Union), private-sector actors (the Union of Manufacturers and Entrepreneurs), and NGOs working with persons with disabilities. The consultations resulted in a very high level of government awareness of the SDGs and contributed to moving quickly to roll out the SDGs with a whole-of-government approach.

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Sierra Leone: Setting the stage for SDG progress in a crisis-affected country

November 9, 2016

National ownership Despite a devastating decade-long civil war (1991–2001), Sierra Leone made significant progress towards achieving the MDGs. However, in 2014–2015 the country was hit hard by the Ebola crisis as well as a coincidental collapse in international iron ore prices — a key source of fiscal revenues and foreign exchange — presenting a considerable challenge for the country’s Vision 2035 of becoming a middle-income country. Today the SDGs are being implemented against a backdrop of multiple recovery strategies, including the third Poverty Reduction Strategy (Agenda for Prosperity 2013–2018) and the National Ebola Recovery Strategy/Presidential Recovery Priorities (2015–2017). Both strategies are informed by the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. Progress is being made on implementing the SDGs, despite the circumstances of recent years, due to strong leadership from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. In an impressive move, Sierra Leone’s 2016 national budget already reflects all 17 SDGs aligned with the eight pillars of the Agenda for Prosperity. The government also launched a popular version of the SDGs in the parliament during the national Budget Speech and distributed it to a cross-section of other stakeholders, including civil servants, NGOs and CSOs. With financial support from the New Deal facility,9MOFED provided a briefing to the Cabinet and held several radio talk shows to explain the SDGs to the general public. Adapting the SDGs to the national context The Government of Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the UNCT, held a technical retreat in December 2015 to review the SDGs against the landscape of existing strategies and plans, including the Agenda for Prosperity, and to draft an SDG Adaptation Report to be presented at the HLPF in 2016. This retreat included, among others, line ministries, departments and agencies, CSOs and UN agencies. Raising public awareness Public awareness-raising efforts also saw early progress in Sierra Leone. To lay the foundation, the UNCT prepared a novel SDG communications strategy which domesticated and simplified the messages of the SDGs. With the communications strategy in hand, the UNCT held two SDG photo and banner exhibitions in the capital city as well as a nationwide campaign at the Universities of Kenema, Bo, Makeni and Njala by engaging with mayors, university teachers and students. In addition, the government also held a national conference, with support from the UNCT, at the University of Makeni in March 2016, to discuss the ways to transition from the MDGs to the SDGs and the challenges facing the country in the SDG era. Another innovative move was the UN Communications Group’s special training to familiarize journalists with the SDGs and facilitate objective reporting of progress and challenges to implementation in light of the Ebola crisis. Due to these efforts, key stakeholders are well aware of the SDGs. In particular, SDG 16 on governance gained wide recognition as a critical goal for Sierra Leone as a post-conflict country and a founding member of the g7+, a voluntary association of countries that are or have been affected by conflict and are now in transition to the next stage of development. Assessing risks and fostering adaptability Lessons learned from the Ebola crisis and the collapse in international iron ore prices informed the development of the National Ebola Recovery Strategy/Presidential Recovery Priorities (2015–2017). The objective is to ensure that the country maintains zero cases of Ebola while ‘building back better’ national systems for resilience and national development, including preparedness to face future shocks and epidemics. The national strategy comprises seven presidential priority sectors: health, education, social protection, private sector development, water, energy and governance. Implementation of the first phase ended in March 2016, and the second phase started in April 2016. Discussions are under way for the presidential priorities to integrate the SDGs.

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Philippines: Promoting institutional coordination

November 9, 2016

National ownership The Philippine government has embraced the need for the country to mainstream the SDGs into its next national six-year development plan (2017–2022) and the 25-year development programme called ‘Ambisyon Natin (Our Ambition) 2040’. It has led technical workshops to inform the core national-level indicators for effective monitoring of progress against the SDGs. Institutional coordination and coherence The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) proposed the creation of the Committee on SDGs to spearhead the national implementation of the SDGs and promote rapid, inclusive and sustained economic growth. The Committee will comprise the heads of various national government agencies, with the Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning as the Chair. In addition, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Board has recently approved a resolution enjoining all government agencies to provide the necessary data support to monitor the SDGs. The Philippines Statistical Development Plan 2011–2017 now includes a separate chapter for the compilation and improvement of national SDG indicators. At the subnational level, the Mindanao NEDA Sub-national Offices have passed a resolution requesting the establishment of an operational and integrated mechanism for the localization of the SDGs within the NEDA. The mechanism will define the development actions and commitments required at the regional/local level to contribute to attaining the SDG targets. The resolution also called for the NEDA Central Office to ensure a highly participatory and consultative process by involving the regions in SDG- related activities through the existing Regional Development Councils. Raising public awareness Several CSOs have organized theme- and sector-focused forums and workshops to discuss how the SDG framework could be used to identify issues and interventions for specific sectors and themes. The private sector and business groups have also started advocacy initiatives to increase understanding and the engagement of relevant actors in inclusive business and the broader SDG agenda. In parallel, the UN continues to support the government in raising public awareness on the SDGs by developing advocacy and information materials, including an SDG presentation template, an SDG ‘commitment’ wall, SDG selfie boards to support the #GlobalGoals campaign, and an SDG booklet. These communication materials were used in many public awareness-raising events such as the UN’s 70th anniversary celebrations, children’s and youth events, private-sector events and academic forums. Inclusive participation Social Watch Philippines, a civil society network composed of more than 100 CSOs and individuals, is formulating a Spotlight Report with UN support, which will complement the government’s Voluntary National Review for the 2016 HLPF. It will be drawn from a series of consultations that will analyse poverty and inequality, the inclusiveness of growth and its environmental implications, and structural and systemic issues, including multi-stakeholderism and partnership. The results are also expected to feed into the government’s national visioning and planning exercise. Business groups are also planning a portal to capture the private sector’s contributions to SDG targets. Monitoring and reporting In October 2015, NEDA, in coordination with the PSA and with UNDP support, conducted the First Technical Workshop on SDGs Indicators. This event was attended by 269 participants from various national government agencies, CSOs, academic institutions and the UNCT. Then in May 2016 the Second Technical Workshop on SDGs Indicators was convened with over 300 participants to inform the report by the Philippines to the Voluntary National Review for the HLPF in July. At these workshops, the initial list of SDG indicators was examined within the context of the country’s development objectives, and relevant indicators that were not included in the list were identified. The participants also assessed whether data on the SDG indicators were available from existing data sources, and prioritized those that should be part of the country’s core indicators. Building on such basic mapping activities, 231 global indicators were examined and prioritized in accordance with the national context, while 23 additional national indicators were presented for SDGs 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and well-being) and 5 (gender equality). The Department of Labor and Employment also initiated technical workshops with support from the ILO in May 2016 to identify and update indicators for SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and other goals covering elements of decent work. This led to a mapping of indicators in the Philippines covering decent work.

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Pakistan: Making progress on the SDGs through commitment and institutional readiness

November 9, 2016

National ownership While Pakistan struggled to meet the MDGs, due in part to a lack of awareness and ownership early on in the process, the SDG era is being met with early political commitment and national ownership. Already by February 2016 the National Assembly of Pakistan had passed a unanimous resolution to adopt the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs as the national development agenda. The Speaker of the National Assembly constituted Parliamentary Task Forces at federal and provincial levels to oversee and support legislation for the SDGs and assigned the SDG Secretariat to provide support. Additionally, the federal government and four provincial governments have already committed US$15.5 million as co-financing to set up SDG Support Units, which aim to coordinate activities at both national and provincial levels. The governments will finance 50 percent of the total project budget of around US$35 million, which will be used for four main outputs: (i) mainstreaming the SDGs in national policies and plans; (ii) data and reporting; (iii) inclusive budgeting processes and tracking expenditure; and (iv) innovation. Institutional coordination and coherence During the MDG era, there were no institutional structures in place to coordinate planning and provide policy coherence. This time, the government has established SDG Support Units at federal and provincial levels with UN assistance, and has created the SDG Secretariat within the parliament. At the provinciallevel specifically, the government has begun the process of integrating the SDGs, including establishing approaches for the analysis of Annual Development Plans to help identify gaps in progress and financial allocations. Raising public awareness The launch of the SDGs in Pakistan in October 2015 was marked in the presence of the Minister for Planning, Development and Reform and the UN Resident Coordinator. The country has a devolved governance structure which empowers provinces to plan and implement development interventions. The importance of awareness and ownership at these levels was a key lesson learned from the MDG era. Accordingly, provincial launches and consultative workshops were held in Sindh and Punjab with a view to raising awareness of the SDGs at the subnational level. Advocacy and awareness-raising materials were developed and disseminated to government officials at national and provincial levels, civil society, UN agencies and other international partners. Inclusive participation At the national launch of the SDGs, the government invited non-state partners to discuss the country’s SDG roll-out plans. The Parliamentary Task Force on the SDGs also ensured the participation of development partners, including UN agencies, CSOs, think tanks and the media, in a national consultation workshop focusing on malnutrition. In Sindh and Punjab provinces, consultations to launch and prioritize the SDGs at the provincial level involved not only senior provincial officials but also CSOs, think tanks and academia. Monitoring and reporting Pakistan was able to produce regular data for 33 of the 60 MDG indicators, while the SDGs have 231 indicators. A preliminary exercise to assess the data gap for the SDGs shows that data are available for 125 indicators at the national level, 71 at the provincial level and 27 at the district level. The initial assessment portrays a dismal picture of the availability of data at federal level for SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 14 (life below water), SDG 15 (life on land) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). Also, the data gaps widen as the analysis moves from the national to the district level. The findings show that data for most of the indicators for SDGs 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), 10 (reduced inequalities), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 15 (life on land) are not available at district level. District-level data are costlier and require greater effort to collect and analyse because of the larger sample size and disaggregation required.

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Morocco: Multi-stakeholder forums to adapt the SDGs to national and local contexts

November 9, 2016

The constitutional pathway Morocco’s national priorities are derived from its 2011 constitutional reforms with a focus to: complete the democratic transition and strengthen human rights; improve its economic viability, environmental sustainability and social stability; scale up climate change adaptation and energy transition; and consolidate its strategic leadership regionally and globally. For Morocco, the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs has enabled a strategic focus on inclusive development and the environment. As a further testament to the country’s commitment to sustainable development, in 2016 Morocco will host the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Marrakech. National ownership The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the High Commission for Planning in Morocco, together with a national interministerial committee and the UNCT, organized a national consultation in May 2016 under the theme ‘Contextualization of the 2030 Agenda in Morocco: Leave No One Behind’. During the consultations, approximately 500 stakeholders had the opportunity to collectively examine the 2030 Agenda, learn about the country’s engagement at the international level and explore their roles and responsibilities to achieve the goals. It was also the first opportunity for high-level public officials to take stock collectively on key national policies and sectoral strategies related to the SDGs. Raising public awareness Close to 200 non-state participants, mainly digital entrepreneurs, children and young people, civil society activists, celebrities, journalists and activists joined the national consultation. The UN also engaged the Royal Institute of the Amazigh Culture to translate the SDGs into the Amazigh language, which in 2011 became an official language of Morocco, alongside Arabic. Social media (#MarocODD) was used to inform stakeholders about the issues to be discussed at the national consultation workshop. Also, as part of the ‘Project Everyone’ campaign during the week preceding the UN Sustainable Development Summit, Hit Radio, a leading radio station with approximately 1.8 million listeners per day, partnered with the UN to translate SDG messages into Moroccan Arabic and broadcast them to reach young people. Reviewing the SDGs and the national context Thirty-five high-level panellists from the Moroccan parliament, administration, the Ministry of Justice, the Human Rights Council and the Confederation of Business Enterprises gave presentations on the status of the SDGs related to their sectors during the national consultations. The discussions and exchanges among participants collectively examined the work in progress and implementation and monitoring challenges. It also delved into the need for public policy coherence, adequate financing, and monitoring and evaluation systems. The Planning Commission shared the national framework which addresses the main targets and indicators. An initial analysis by the government revealed that the national statistical system can produce data on about 63 percent of the global SDG indicators. The missing data relate mainly to the SDGs on governance and the environment. Inclusive participation The Economic and Social Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN system brought together CSOs and national institutions in the consultations. Discussions included how to support local authorities in the development, implementation and monitoring of the SDGs, and how to effectively engage children and youth and foster awareness and ownership of the 2030 Agenda. The role of CSOs in maintaining the public debate was also highlighted. UN entities such as UNDP, the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), UNESCO, UNV and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) proposed areas of policy support and tools at regional, national and subnational levels in support of contextualizing and accelerating the SDGs in Morocco. With a particular focus on children and youth, UNICEF and UNV organized sessions during and after the national consultations, leading to positive feedback that those sessions helped enhance the civic engagement of young people at the local level.

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Montenegro: Adapting an established national strategy for Sustainable Development to new global and regional agendas

November 9, 2016

National ownership Montenegro’s ambitions as an ‘ecological state’ pursuing a sustainable development path stem from the 1990s and were reflected as early as 1992 in the text of the Constitution. This interest was further reflected in the country’s high level of participation in global debates on the formulation of the SDGs, particularly through the Open Working Group, where the views of 12,000 people from national consultations ‘Montenegro – the Future I Want’ were presented. The UN Montenegro and the civil sector collaborated closely with the government in the ambitious consultation process with the people of Montenegro, which included the most marginalized populations. In close cooperation with the UN, the government launched the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the UN, using a jointly developed animation entitled ‘We have a plan’. Institutional coordination In 2002, Montenegro established a National Council for Sustainable Development, which acts as an advisory body to the government for implementing sustainable development policies, while the line ministry responsible for sustainable development is in charge of implementation. Chaired by the President and consisting of 25 members (representatives of ministries, local authorities, the business sector, public institutions, civil society and independent experts), the National Council provides recommendations to the government for implementing sustainable development policies; harmonizes sectoral policies with the principles, objectives and measures of sustainable development, climate change and integrated coastal zone management; and amends the existing regulations and adopts new regulations for the harmonization of socio-economic development and conservation of natural resources with sustainable development policies. Since the adoption of the first National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD) in 2007, a new strategy has been proposed to reform the institutional set-up, in order to further strengthen capacities at the Ministry for Sustainable Development and Tourism and the public administration and improve their cooperation with national and international partners. The existing National Council was thus reformed as the National Council for Sustainable Development, Climate Changes and Integrated Coastal Zone Management, covering more diverse and integrated issues. Reviewing existing plans and adapting the SDGs to the national context A draft version of the NSSD 2030 was adopted by the Government of Montenegro, and a mapping of the indicators and targets proposed for each goal against existing national statistics was completed. Public consultations with a broad spectrum of relevant stakeholders have been held, and the NSSD has fully aligned national goals with the 2030 Agenda. The Strategy was adopted by the National Council for Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Integrated Coastal Zone Management in June 2016, while the final adoption by the government is expected in mid-2016. The previous NSSD and MDG Progress Reports were used as important inputs to the new NSSD 2030. Discussions held within the Open Working Group on SDGs, intergovernmental negotiations and the outcomes of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda influenced the content and timing of the Strategy. A longer time horizon was adopted to align it with the 2030 Agenda, and ‘governance and financing’ for sustainable development was given a central position. The UN contributed to the development of the new NSSD, and it is expected to be further involved in setting up a national monitoring and evaluation system to track progress in implementing the NSSD Action Plan. Moreover, the government and UN Montenegro developed a new plan of cooperation for 2017–2021, taking the 2030 Agenda as a starting point for UN interventions in the country. They are currently working on developing an online hub that will inter alia  help to communicate the SDGs and engage with partners in their implementation of the NSSD. Monitoring and reporting Monitoring and reporting on implementation of the NSSD has been taken seriously. An integrated NSSD monitoring framework proposes using 231 global SDG indicators, 281 national indicators, 9 composite indicators, and 36 other indicators provided by international organizations that are relevant to Montenegro. Overall, 42.3 percent of the global set of SDG indicators will be tracked through existing or newly accessible data by 2018, since the preparation of the First National Report on NSSD implementation is planned in 2019. It is anticipated that by 2024, 74.7 percent of SDG indicators will be regularly monitored and reported on. Specific tasks are being assigned for the collection and storage of input data for the statistical indicators, as well as protocols for exchanging data and ensuring compatibility. The need for improved capacity is highlighted if reporting on the full range of indicators of sustainable development is to be realized.

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Mauritania: Demonstrating early efforts to mainstream SDGs within a new national development strategy

November 9, 2016

National ownership and reviewing national plans for adapting the SDGsThe Government of Mauritania undertook a Rapid Integrated Assessment with UN support to inform its new Strategy of Accelerated Growth and Shared Prosperity for 2016–2030. The results showed that 92 SDG targets are represented in the existing strategic framework, suggesting good integration so far, with gaps to be addressed. This assessment will inform the formulation of the new strategy, which marks a transition from 15 years of implementing a strategy and policy focused on poverty reduction, to the formulation of a new, ambitious development strategy through to 2030. In addition, the Ministry of Economy and Finances provided SDG-related training to the new strategy’s technical team, using UN tools and modules. This training focused on the challenges of integrating the SDGs into national plans, with particular attention to cross-cutting elements, data and accountability. Raising public awareness In October 2015, the Ministry for the Economy and Finance, with support from the UN as part of its 70th anniversary celebrations, gathered participants from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector, the government, parliamentarians, financial and technical partners and researchers to launch the 2030 Agenda and discuss future implementation of the SDGs in Mauritania. The celebrations included a free concert by local musicians, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the UN to promote the SDGs and raise public awareness of the role of each citizen to achieve them. The UN system in Mauritania also organized a national photography contest with the theme of the SDGs, giving all Mauritanians the chance to depict an SDG of their choice. An awareness-raising workshop took place in May 2016 to explain the global SDG formulation processand the future mainstreaming of the SDGs into Mauritania’s new strategy. The event brought together multiple government departments and the private sector (e.g. the Employers Association and the Chamber of Commerce), civil society (e.g. Platform of Non-State Actors, Organization for the Defense of the Disabled, Observatory of Organizations for Human Rights, the Network for the Social Promotion and Environment Protection, Mauritanian Association for Assistance to the Needy) and international technical and financial partners (e.g. the UN, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the European Union). The workshop allowed the participants to better understand the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs, to learn about the SDGs and to understand the importance of integrating them into national plans. The participants, based on their field of activity and expertise, also provided recommendations for the whole SDG mainstreaming and implementation process. Inclusive participation As part of the celebration of the UN’s 70th anniversary, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Children and Family And the UN system collaborated with the Center for Children Living with a Disability to organize a free concert at the Olympic Stadium. The musical group Evolution (with members representing youth from all diverse segments of Mauritanian society) performed a song about the SDGs while children from the Center performed a choreographed dance. Malian refugees also took part in the celebrations, through the musical group Etrane Timbuktu. The participation of children with disabilities and refugees in the performance was an effective way to highlight the commitment to leave no one behind in the process to implement the SDGs. Furthermore, representatives of marginalized groups, such as the Association for Disabled, Blind and Visually Impaired People, have taken part in the work to mainstream the SDGs into the Strategy of Accelerated Growth and Shared Prosperity, including in awareness-raising workshops and technical work to prioritize the SDGs.

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Indonesia: Promoting inclusive approaches to localize the SDGs

November 9, 2016

National ownership Indonesia has been involved in the SDGs since their early conception in 2012 when former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was appointed as a Co-Chair of the High-Level Panel of eminent persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Indonesia has expressed its strong commitment to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. President Joko Widodo’s nine national priorities and the country’s Medium-Term Development Plans align well with the SDGs. The National Development Planning Agency, Bappenas, performed a mapping exercise for the goals and targets of the national plan with the SDGs, finding that 108 out of 169 SDG targets are matched. Some of the boldest targets, such as ending violence against children, are openly debated and thereby in the realm of the possible to achieve. A Presidential Regulation has been drafted to establish governance mechanisms for the SDGs that are conducive to stakeholder engagement and will guide mainstreaming of the SDGs into sectoral development plans and budgets. The Regulation also ensures the role of provincial government in leading implementation of the SDGs at their level and in the districts under their supervision. It also demands regular monitoring and evaluation reporting from ministries and the subnational level. Institutional coordination and coherence Effective January 2016, the government transformed its MDGs Secretariat into the SDGs Transition Secretariat, operationalized with additional support from the UNCT, the Australian government, the Asian Development Bank and the Ford Foundation. It is notable that the Ministry of Health has also created a secretariat to deal specifically with SDG 3 on good health and well-being. The Planning Office of Indonesia’s Riau provincial government has collaborated with UNDP and Tanoto Foundation in localizing the SDGs at provincial and district levels. It held its first multi-stakeholder consultation in May 2016 and has selected three districts to pioneer development of the SDG District Action Plan. Meanwhile, Bappenas, the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) and UNDP have been contacted by several provincial and district governments seeking technical assistance and guidance to roll out the SDGs at their level. Inclusive participation Indonesia’s approach to adapting the 2030 Agenda to its national and subnational contexts is characterized by the participation of a wide range of stakeholders in SDG discussions and a decentralized approach. Following President Widodo’s commitment to CSOs in December 2015, the SDGs Transition Secretariat held dialogues with civil society networks such as INFID, and the private sector, to translate that commitment to inclusive SDG governance into a policy framework. Private-sector organizations in Indonesia have been among the most active partners in launching SDG-related activities. The SDG Philanthropy Platform facilitates dialogue and collaboration on the SDGs. The Association of Philanthropy Indonesia (Filantropi Indonesia), together with the Indonesian Global Compact Network, the Indonesian Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, have launched the Forum Filantropi dan Bisnis — Indonesia untuk SDGs (the Indonesia Philanthropy and Business for the SDGs), which has a membership of 10 associations representing more than 600 businesses and philanthropic foundations. Also, business, trade unions, the Ministry of Manpower of Indonesia and the ILO jointly hosted a tripartite conference in February 2016 to discuss the impact of various labour policies and institutions on the objectives included in the SDGs, particularly in SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth). Participants acknowledged the critical importance of tripartite social dialogue to achieving inclusive growth and decent work. By May 2016, two public universities had engaged in the SDGs. The University of Indonesia is collaborating with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Bappenas on localizing the SDGs, and the University of Padjajaran has established an SDG Centre to prepare policy recommendations and independent monitoring of the SDGs. A private university, BINUS, has also adapted its community development programme to contribute to SDGs 1 to 8. Raising public awareness To raise awareness of the SDGs among young people and children, who represent 25 percent of the Indonesian population, the UN Resident Coordinator in Indonesia appeared in two 30-minute shows on the biggest national TV channel, TV RI, to talk with young children about development in the country and the importance of achieving the SDGs. The UN in Indonesia also created an SDG partnership with Radio Elshinta, one of Indonesia’s premier and largest radio networks, generating 25 interviews and articles about the SDGs to date. The information is also cross-posted with other Elshinta channels, including Elshinta TV and Elshinta Magazine. Their postings on social media are shared with over 1.6 million followers on Twitter (hashtag #ElshintaSDGs). The UN has entered into a partnership for the SDGs with the most influential daily newspaper, Kompas , and has named a renowned actor and a famous musician as ‘SDG movers’ to campaign for the SDGs. Monitoring and reporting The National Statistical Office (BPS) is assessing its capacity to measure SDG indicators and discussing the establishment of a data monitoring system to record progress against them. BPS estimates that it will be able to supply one third of the data needs for the proposed indicators, and another one third can be found within the data repositories of the technical ministries. A data gap remains for the final third, but BPS is working with the UN to explore the possibility of using big data to fill it.

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Georgia: Prioritizing SDG implementation towards institutional coordination and policy coherence

November 9, 2016

National ownershipGeorgia is enjoying a favourable start to implementation of the SDGs due to the government’s demonstrated ownership of the SDG agenda and a national consensus about the importance of thenew global goals for the country’s development. The Administration of the Government of Georgia has established a working group comprising line ministries and the National Statistics Office to adapt the SDGs to the national context. Strong commitment to make the global goals an essential part of national priorities was clearly voiced at the Social Good Summit in September 2015 organized by the Administration of the Government, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection and the UN, in cooperation with the Government of the Ajara Autonomous Republic, one of the rapidly developing regions of Georgia that has engaged in piloting many of the SDG approaches. With the focus on pressing developmental issues faced by Georgia in the areas of environmental protection, economic growth and urban and rural development, the Summit paid particular attention to the development of national strategies required to address these challenges and the value of international cooperation to enhance the country’s role in achieving the global goals. The discussion which had started at the Social Good Summit continued at the SDG Donor Round Table in January 2016. Inclusive participation Following a highly participatory Social Good Summit which brought on board government officials, representatives of subnational governments, civil society and the media, UN support to the nationalization of the SDGs continued by assisting an inclusive national dialogue about the Post-2015 Development Agenda. This included a series of introductory meetings in five regions of Georgia that engaged local authorities, NGOs, businesses and the media. Adapting the SDGs to the national context To adapt the SDGs to national priorities and challenges, the Government’s Administration has prioritized 13 of the 17 SDGs and 79 global targets for the next 5–7 years. Additionally, 40 targets have been translated and adjusted, and 5 new national targets have been set, while the government intends to define all 17 SDGs as a permanent national priority. National and local CSOs provided inputs into identifying priority areas, and the government is continuing the dialogue process. The UNCT has held a series of consultations with the Government’s Administration and all line ministries to provide feedback on the nationalization process, including specific targets and indicators. Raising public awareness Building on the successful engagement of approximately 10,000 Georgians during the national consultations in 2013 to inform the creation of the 2030 Agenda, the government, together with the UN, is considering creating an online digital platform for interactive data collection and visualization of  the SDGs and the Georgian nationalization process. Crowdsourcing tools such as the MY World survey, including an online platform and an SMS voting service, offer the opportunity to collect fresh data on the Georgian public’s stance on the SDGs. Leaflets and guides are being developed in the Georgian language to raise awareness among local communities and municipalities. Additionally, introductory meetings were held in five regions of the country, with the aim of raising awareness of the SDGs among local governments and the private and civil sectors. The UN has also partnered with the national NGO Civil Development Agency (CiDA) to support local-level outreach round tables, and a panel discussion was convened on the SDG agenda at the international conference ‘Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility in Georgia’ together with CiDA and the UN Global Compact. Horizontal and vertical coordination The establishment within the Government’s Administration of two new units in 2014 greatly enhanced the government’s capacity to lead the nationalization process and provided the UNCT with clear entry points and partners to support the SDG process. The Planning and Innovations Unit has led the nationalization process and horizontal policy coordination, while the Donor Coordination Unit has led the interface between the Government’s Administration and international organizations. Monitoring and reporting With the support of the National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat), a reliable information base has been analysed to set the baseline indicator for each target. Geostat has worked with the line ministries to collect the relevant data and analyse weaknesses of disaggregated statistics. As of early 2016, nearly 120 indicators have been identified as having baseline data. Still, the lack of statistical data remains a challenge to setting reliable quantitative indicators.

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El Salvador: Demonstrating ownership to implement the SDGs

November 9, 2016

National ownership On the initiative of the President of the Republic, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, El Salvador decided to give a special boost to the implementation of the new 2030 Agenda in the country. Since the President’s participation at the UN Sustainable Development Summit, the processes of adopting and implementing the 2030 Agenda have been guided from the highest level by the Presidency of the Republic, and operationally delegated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency. Adapting the SDGs to the national context The current Five-Year Development Plan (2014–2019) has already been studied and analysed in relation to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Among several similarities found, it is of particular interest to note that SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth), 4 (quality education) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) clearly embody the three main priorities defined in the Plan: Productive employment generated through sustained economic growth Inclusive and equitable education Effective citizen security In this context, on 15 December 2015, the Government of El Salvador and the UN signed a Memorandum of Understanding — the first of its kind — for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The first step identified in this process was to jointly develop comprehensive training on the 2030 Agenda for government officials, which involved 488 public servants from 71 national institutions. Significant contributions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency enabled fruitful coordination with other national institutions and the successful provision of technical assistance. Based on the UN’s MAPS approach and the SDGs Roadmap, devised by Salvadoran public institutions as a country-specific guide for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, further initiatives aimed at fostering national ownership of the 2030 Agenda are now under way. Raising public awareness Numerous SDG awareness-raising initiatives have been organized with the international community, CSOs and the public and private sectors, at both national and local levels. In particular, under the auspices of the Presidency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency, together with the UNCT, organized a series of training workshops for Salvadoran public servants on each of the 17 SDGs. These workshops aimed to: Develop, strengthen and complement public servants’ knowledge on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs; (ii) promote a comprehensive understanding of the SDGs; Analyse the links among the institutional strategic plans of the public institutions involved, the government’s Five-Year Development Plan (2014–2019) and the 2030 Agenda; and Create a dialogue space to exchange expertise and answer questions or concerns. Inclusive participation The development of the first phase of SDG mainstreaming in El Salvador is guided by a commitment to ensure the highest possible level of inclusive participation. These efforts are feeding the enthusiasm for the new 2030 Agenda, building on the results already achieved through the consultation and localizing phases, in which more than 4,000 Salvadorans shared their perspectives and ideas about the ‘El Salvador We Want’ as part of the UN SDG Action Campaign. In addition, the creation of an integral and comprehensive National Council for Sustainable Development has been called for within the government, to foster synergies among the variety of development stakeholders, at the national and subnational levels, for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Monitoring and reporting To overcome the monitoring and reporting challenges posed by the 2030 Agenda, the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been working with the UN to review the complete list of SDG indicators, as a first step towards defining national targets. This work includes the development of a second series of workshops with Salvadoran public institutions, aiming at fostering multilateral dialogues on the issue and generating the seed for the creation and implementation of a one-of-its-kind national development agenda for the SDGs.

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Egypt: Aligning the nation’s plans with the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063

November 9, 2016

National ownership Egypt has endorsed both the global 2030 Agenda and the regional African Union Agenda 2063, which strives to enable Africa to remain focused and committed to the ideals envisaged in the context of a rapidly changing world. The year 2016 marked a convergence of strategic planning for Egypt. At the national level, Egypt’s Vision 2030 was endorsed by the newly elected parliament as the nation’s sustainable development strategy. It aims to promote a competitive, balanced and diversified economy based on justice, social integrity and participation. The next 15 years will thus certainly place many important strategic demands on the country, including overcoming structural challenges, mobilizing resources and coordinating efforts to fulfil its national Vision 2030 and its commitments to the regional and global agendas. Egypt has shown early signs of commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda, and has already taken a number of important steps. In December 2015, the Prime Minister issued a decree to form a national committee, composed of key ministries and state institutions, to follow up on the implementation of the SDGs and to effectively report on progress. The Minister of International Cooperation was appointed as its Rapporteur. Reviewing national plans and adapting the SDGs to the national context With support from the UN, the Government of Egypt is conducting a rapid review of its existing strategies, including Egypt Vision 2030 and other relevant sectoral plans. The objective is to assess the level of alignment with the SDGs, identify possible gaps between existing national priority goals and targets and global targets, and highlight areas for change. Raising public awareness There has been a significant focus on systematically promoting public understanding of the SDGs. For instance, the UN in Egypt held an ‘Open Code for Sustainable Development’ camp in September 2015 as part of the Social Good Summit to launch the SDGs in the country. More than 100 children and youth took part in the camp and learned about new web programming and management technologies to develop solutions to help achieve the SDGs. Similarly, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Youth, together with the UN, used the occasion of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace in May 2016 — which brought together more than 300 sports celebrities, diplomats, the general public and the media — to support and raise awareness of the SDGs. Inclusive participation The government has initiated a multi-stakeholder consultation process with CSOs, major groups from academia, the private sector, special interest groups, children and youth to raise awareness of the SDGs and seek their views and feedback on the SDG implementation. This process builds on the consultative process that Egypt undertook in partnership with the UN and development partners to prepare the post-2015 consultation The World We Want, during which over 17,000 Egyptians participated in shaping the 2030 Agenda. Monitoring and reporting The national statistical agency, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), has established an SDG Coordination Unit to build capacity and contextualize and set out the national indicator framework necessary to monitor and track Egypt’s progress towards achieving the SDGs. With the support of the UN, it is conducting a comprehensive assessment of its capacities and data systems. Egypt is also one of the African countries taking part in the 2016 Africa Data Report initiative11 to assess what is needed to fully realize the data revolution. The report will feed into other SDG initiatives and studies by providing concrete analysis of data issues at national and regional levels. With the support of the UN and other development partners, the government is looking into evaluating impact and building national capacity to assess the long-term effects of policies on specific SDGs, notably poverty alleviation, food security, child protection, employment and climate change, with the objective of fostering a knowledge base for policy dialogue and evidence-based decision-making.

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