Dominican Republic: 5 Steps to Develop a SDG Data Innovation Lab
BY Mildred Samboy | February 8, 2018
Have you ever wondered how much hazardous waste is generated in your community, city, or country? What is the proportion of women who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual and reproductive health? Or how many people have declared themselves victims of discrimination or harassment in the last 12 months? Imagine if you could have access to this data in a country of more than 10 million inhabitants in the center of the Caribbean.
In the Dominican Republic, only 37 percent of the indicators that make up the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have data available for monitoring and 44 percent do not have information or sources for their measurement. This constitutes a challenge for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda).
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production is one of the biggest statistical challenges for the country. As established in the 2016 Rapid Integrated Assessment “there are significant biases in the integration of (SDG 12) indicators into the national development planning and their availability for an adequate monitoring and fulfillment of the fourth axis (sustainable development) of National Development” in the Dominican Republic .
All of this considered, how can we measure the SDG 12 indicator related to the generation and proportion of hazardous waste in the country? To figure this out, we joined forces with the National Statistics Office, the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to come up with a strategy. The result was a data innovation lab built in five steps:
Step 1: Select key stakeholders
Which institutions are fundamental in the development of an SDG data innovation lab?
Multisectoriality is essential to guarantee the richness of this exercise. Two things were paramount for this step:
To bring the institutions in charge of statistics and planning (the National Statistics Office and the Ministry of Economy) on board. These institutions are part of other coordination structures, such as the National Commission for Sustainable Development (SDGs Commission), which is the 2030 Agenda coordination and advisory structure (See Decrees 23-16 and 26-17). In this exercise, the UN System in the Dominican Republic worked with the Technical Secretariat of the SDGs Commission to identify a proposal of indicators and criteria for this initiative.
To include as many stakeholders as possible in the discussion; from representatives of the public sector (hospitals, General Customs Directorate), to the private sector, to Academia, to environmental organizations, everyone related to the disposal of hazardous waste was invited to participate.
This exercise demonstrates the importance of challenging these structures to enforce the fluidity and comprehensiveness of the statistical systems, and their responsibility in the process, guaranteeing an effective relationship that helps bridge existing gaps.
Step 2: Select the indicators
Which indicators should be selected and prioritized for the development of a Data Innovation Lab?
Prioritizing indicators at a national level means choosing them according to the country’s statistical needs. The parameters for this lab were: (A) Lack of source or measurement methodology (B) Indicators within the SDGs identified for the Voluntary National Review (VNR) for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2018), in which the Dominican Republic will participate this year.
Following these parameters, the Statistics Office presented a proposal with the following indicators: "Proportion of wastewater safely treated"; "Hazardous waste generated per capita and proportion of hazardous waste treated, disaggregated by type of treatment"; and "Number of companies that publish sustainability reports". Of these proposals, hazardous waste was prioritized, taking the Environmental Compliance Reports  as a starting point.
Step 3: Build participatory and formative spaces
How can sectors express and validate the challenges and opportunities for improvement related to the selected indicator?
Following this initiative, two main consultation workshops were held with institutions related to the field. The results of the first consultation highlighted the challenges and bottlenecks that make it difficult for the indicator to be measured. The second workshop aimed to find innovative solutions and improvement opportunities to the problems identified in the first workshop.
In both workshops, over 20 young people from academia and civil society institutions volunteered, moderating and summarizing key findings and conclusions at each table discussion.
Step 4: Check the possible sources of the indicator
How to guarantee results and sustainability in the statistical development of the indicator?
In addition to the consultations, a group of specialists were tasked with reviewing the Environmental Compliance Report. This source was important because it is an environmental Administrative Record (forms, reports, files, among others).
This review led to a joint exercise by the Statistics Office and the Ministry of Environment to collect and analyze data regarding hazardous waste, together with the private sector, academia and hospitals. It also made it possible to generate technical, statistical and environmental capabilities linked to the indicator, and has created tools to formalize this practice within the institutional framework.
Step 5: Systematize, develop and implement
What can we do next?
The final step is to follow up on the findings and conclusions of these exercises, by developing initiatives that could have a direct impact on the improvement, organization and visualization of the data related to the hazardous waste indicator.
One of these initiatives would be a Hackathon to foster the creation of applications and software development for data collection and visualization.
Another, which is already underway, is the elaboration of a technical data note (explaining the indicator metadata) by the Statistics Office. This note will be validated by several sectors that will have the opportunity to rethink together the statistical development structures of the indicator. At last, this team is also working with the culmination of the construction of the database of the Environmental Compliance Reports and its respective baseline.
What we learned
This experience shows that there is a link between the statistical development capacity of our countries and their needs, challenges, accomplishments and opportunities, which must consider the political and social dimensions. Implementing the 2030 Agenda in the field brought institutions from different sectors together to break existing barriers.
While working together was as a challenge, it was also an opportunity to improve practices and actions. Strengthening the national statistical system will only be possible if the key sectors involved have the tools, the capacities and the will.
 The Rapid Integrated Assessment (RIA) Tool aims to support countries in mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) into national and subnational planning, by helping assess their readiness for SDG implementation. Click here to access the Dominican Republic’s 2016 RIA elaborated by UNDP and MEPyD
 The Environmental Compliance Report (ICA, its Spanish acronym) “is a technical report that explains the degree and quality of compliance of a facility, project, program or other activity by its operator or entity (company, NGO, government) with regards to environmental laws and regulations governing a certain place, resulting in a process of auto management.” (Dominican Republic Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Environment)
Tanzania private sector: Open for business on the Sustainable Development Goals
BY Alvaro Rodriguez | June 17, 2016
We all know that the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals is an ambitious global plan, but if we are serious about it, building vibrant and systematic partnerships is a vital prerequisite for their successful implementation.
At the UN in Tanzania, we are busy building partnerships to support the new global agenda. So far we have engaged the executive branch of the government, to include the SDGs in the next five-year national development plan. We’ve also reached out to youth groups, with whom we launched the SDG Champions initiative. And the media fraternity is joining us to spread the word about the goals in Kiswahili language; and most recently, the private sector.
Testing the waters
Recently, the United Nations Tanzania partnered with the private sector to benchmark their readiness to support the implementation of the SDGs. We do this through the with the UN Global Compact, the Corporate Social Responsibility Group Africa Limited and the Africa Sustainable Business Magazine. Our first step was to get some information the private sector and their plans for engaging on Agenda 2030. We had a very group turnout - almost 280 of the 350 private sector companies responded to our survey.
This targeted research provided some interesting insights on the views of the SDGs by Tanzanian companies. The good news is that they are aware of the SDGs and interested in partnering with the UN to make them happen in Tanzania. According to the results, 60 percent of the people surveyed are aware of the SDGs, being the SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all - the one that resonated most among the participants. SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere-, and SDG 3 -Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages - followed on the list of the most popular goals among this sector. The respondents also agreed that, potentially, they can have the biggest impact on SDG 8.
Beyond just knowing about them, we are also encouraged that the private sector is ready to partner with us to implement the SDGs, with 60 percent of the participants responding positively to a partnership opportunity to implement the Agenda 2030 in Tanzania.
We shared the findings of this survey at the 1st Africa Sustainable Business Summit held in Dar Es Salaam, attended by the Vice President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, who encouraged the private sector to actively raise awareness about the SDGs and to build partnerships to assist their implementation.
At this stage private sector companies are interested mainly in raising awareness on the new global agenda: Sharing information with their employees, especially on health-related issues, and sharing information on behalf of the UN about the SDGs.
Keeping it up
According to a UNIDO-commissioned report on engaging with the private sector, “building vibrant and systematic partnerships with the private sector is a vital prerequisite for the successful implementation of a transformative agenda to accelerate poverty reduction and sustainable development in the post-2015 era.”
In Tanzania, we will keep working in this direction, we believe the private sector should be taking a strong role in the development in Tanzania with the Global Goals being an integral part of their business proposition.
We know that in terms of protecting the environment, preventing corruption and strengthening employment the private sector is absolutely key and their commitment is therefore essential at this stage of Tanzania’s development. The UN will be there to support this effort. Anyone out there that can share their ideas and experiences?