Silo Fighters Blog

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 [1]. 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 [2] 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.     [1] 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 [2] 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)

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Silo Fighters Blog

18 countries, 18 UN agencies and one goal: Sustainable development in the Caribbean

BY Bruno Pouezat, Christian Salazar Volkmann, Khadija Musa, Richard Blewitt, Stephen O’Malley | July 28, 2016

Saying you work for the UN in the Caribbean is an excellent way to induce envy and jealousy! Yet beneath the image of sun, sand and artistic creativity is the reality of small island developing states trying to shape their futures while buffeted by climate change, natural disasters, and the swings of the global economy. There is an incredible diversity across the 18 countries of the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean. Almost all of the countries are classified as middle income, a status that masks the significant social and economic challenges they face, including the persistence of inequality and intergenerational poverty. The populations range from just under 6,000 people in Montserrat to more than 2.8 million in Jamaica. And while 12 of the countries are UN member states, three are UK overseas territories and three are Dutch overseas territories.   A unique approach to a unique region The UN has long been a trusted partner for the countries of the region, for the regional organizations, and for civil society.  However, the UN’s physical presence brings its own challenges.   The UN covers the region through five UN country teams - Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago – and one UN Subregional Team – Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.  While some UN agency offices cover just one country, there are also multi-country offices – for example, UN Women covers 22 countries from its office in Barbados!   Planning, executing and reporting have been challenging, and it has been very difficult to accurately disaggregate regional results to the country level, or to aggregate country level results into a coherent regional picture. All UN resident coordinators for the Caribbean realized that the six existing UNDAFs would end in 2016, and that there was considerable overlap in the areas of work. We saw this as an opportunity to work more closely together and strengthen our focus on results across the region. Further, the adoption of the SAMOA Pathway in September 2014 and impeding adoption of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals gave added impetus to the need to change.   The idea of merging together six separate UN country strategic plans into a single UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework, 2017-2021 was born. Testing the Caribbean waters Early on, we identified that a multi- country sustainable development plan could bring a number of benefits: Strengthen the focus on results at both a regional and national level Lighten the coordination burden on national Governments Enable the region to maximize its use of limited resources Prompt a more coherent response from the UN to regional and national needs/priorities Maximize access to the full range of UN system-wide expertise on issues relevant to Agenda 2030 work for the region Serve as a resource mobilization framework, particularly for regional resources The first step was to see if the concept would fly.   By the end of May 2015, national governments were consulted and gave their assent, and the UN agencies from across the region had met in Barbados and agreed to go ahead.   Since then, we’ve drafted a multi-country assessment which was used for 15 separate national consultations (three countries came on board later), then brought the results of these consultations into a strategic prioritization workshop with governments, regional organizations and civil society. At the workshop, we identified four priority areas: An inclusive, equitable, and prosperous Caribbean A healthy Caribbean A cohesive, safe, and just Caribbean A sustainable and resilient Caribbean The governments are currently doing their final review of the document, and we’re aiming for signing ceremonies by the end of July 2016. Where we stand and what we learned Of course there were and are concerns. The countries were worried that their national needs could be lost in a regional approach, and the UN agencies wanted to be sure that we could strengthen our focus on results without creating an ornate regional coordination architecture. We’re addressing the former through country implementation plans that translate the regional strategic plan into actions on the ground, and the latter through vigorous discussions in our Regional Steering Committee, which was just expanded from the five Resident Coordinators to include eight UN country team members. We’ve also learned a few lessons that might be useful to others traveling down this road. First, there is a big time commitment from the UN Resident Coordinators to work with their teams and with each other, and from the technical experts from agencies to develop the results matrix. Dedicated assistance helps, as noted above, but the work-load is higher in the formulation stage; Second, although the Executive Boards of UNICEF, UNDP and UNFPA will consider the Country Programme Documents (CPD) in September 2016, there is still more that can be done to harmonize the CPD development process After a year of working to bring this idea to fruition, we are confident that we are on the right course. We need to implement new integrated approaches for a rapidly changing world, and the UN multi-country sustainable development framework is our comprehensive offer to support the countries of this beautiful region in their journey to achieve the Agenda 2030. We will be signing it this month, so stay tuned for future updates.

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Silo Fighters Blog

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?

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Silo Fighters Blog

Listening to people’s voices in Tanzania

BY Alvaro Rodriguez | September 8, 2015

Mobile and online surveys are inspiring a new focus on communications and advocacy for the United Nations in Tanzania, where listening to people’s voices is a priority in our efforts to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. Some 1,200 Tanzanian men and women replied to our survey asking, “What can we do better as the UN?” They received the mobile survey by SMS (text message) while attending the Sabasaba, an international trade fair and major promotional event organized by the government. We not only analyzed the results for use in our programming, but amplified the people’s voices through a UN exhibit at the fair. Recently, we received an award from the President of Tanzania for the UN’s outreach to the people. Showcasing the survey results at the Sabasaba fair Participating in the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair, known as ‘Sabasaba’, is a key activity related to the UN@70. In early July 2015, the event brought over 2,000 exhibitors from various countries in Africa and elsewhere representing government, entrepreneurs, the private sector and NGOs. Under Delivering as One, 23 agencies of One UN Tanzania participated. This was the fourth time we participated, but this time with a unique focus on peoples’ voices, including those gathered in the survey and from other sources. Gathering perceptions about the UN The UN in Tanzania has implemented a mobile survey platform aimed at hearing the people’s voices. The United Nations Country Team worked with the company GeoPoll, which administers surveys through SMS, voice or mobile web, to create a short list of key questions. Five questions were prepared that focused on the activities of the United Nations in Tanzania and what people think we could do better as the UN. Respondents could also propose means of receiving and sending information to and from the UN. The mobile survey was sent as a questionnaire in the Kiswahili language. It targeted the general public visiting the Sabasaba exhibition over a one-week period. Respondents came from across the mainland and Zanzibar, with each region, sex and age bracket represented. Interestingly, the findings were that people are keen to receive UN messages and information largely through SMS, WhatsApp, Email and Radio, in that order of preference. At the moment, we have been focusing on newsletters, social media, our website and print media as the means of communications with the people. The top three areas where people think we could do more as One UN are Education, Employment and Agriculture. The mobile survey was part of a series of Stakeholder Perception Surveys that reached diverse audiences in 2015. We also administered four other online surveys. They targeted government, civil society, development partners, the media as well as our own UN staff and personnel. What did the survey results tell us? Arguably, the most interesting data emerging from the mobile survey and other surveys was related to communications and outreach. In other words, if the UN wishes to maintain the interest of its stakeholders, it must work harder to expand audience reach and demonstrate relevance. This could include: Greatly augment ‘traditional’ forms of communication, i.e. email, events, meetings, website and newsletter; Much greater use of SMS (text messaging) and social media; More materials in Kiswahili language of; More ‘technical’ information on key development issues provided through popular versions with simplified language. The findings confirm the need for the UN to integrate the people’s voices into our plans since they help us improve our effectiveness and efficiency, especially on communications. We are also using the findings to help shape our next UNDAF. In addition to priorities in communications and outreach, other important insights emerged from the different surveys we have been administering: Demand on the UN in Tanzania is set to increase, and its relevance is widely acknowledged; The ‘added value’ the UN brings to the country is viewed in terms of ideas, not just financial resources; Poverty reduction remains a priority, and the UN has a key role in the three ‘poverty reduction’ clusters as defined by government: inclusive growth, social well-being and governance; Greater sensitization on the importance of mainstreaming human rights and gender equality is required. Development partners in the donor community recognize the importance of Delivering as One. However, the pace of change is not as fast as partners would like to see. UN staff require regular information-sharing, through a variety of channels, to ensure the spirit of Delivering as One in Tanzania is maintained. In Tanzania we are capitalizing on UN@70 to listen to the voices of the people! These lessons will be integrated in the content and modality of our programming, including our communication and advocacy strategy. An award for listening to UN stakeholders’ voices We have already started to overhaul our joint UN communications strategy, where mobile applications will now be a priority. And yes! We won an award – first prize on Information and Publishing. The award was given to UN Tanzania by the President of Tanzania, and received on behalf of the UN system by the Resident Coordinator. This shows that we are recognized as a development partner committed to reaching the people as well as to listening to them. It is all about ‘the voices, their voices, and our support’.

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How we are ‘communicating as one’ in Iran

BY Gary Lewis | July 7, 2015

Public communications can be challenging in Iran, the country where I work. But we must be visible. Why? If we can show people that we are doing good work – and demonstrate that the United Nations is here to support Iran’s development and humanitarian agenda – Iranians will come to better appreciate the UN’s contribution inside Iran. So will those outside Iran. Partnerships will expand. And the political environment will become more conducive to funding more good work. Here are 10 ways we are communicating as one, using a communications plan approved by the UN Country Team in Iran: 1. Engage key audiences proactively Public communications efforts deliver messages designed to reach specific external audiences: the general public, the media, government, potential funding partners (including Iranian diaspora and local private sector), civil society and the general public. 2. Use UN agency Speakers’ Notes as a common script Opportunities for public speaking are actively pursued. (Check out a recent TEDx event where I discuss the linkages between the environment and human security.) Each of the 18 UN agencies in Iran prepare a set of talking points, outlining the key messages they want me to get across in any interview I have with the media on their issues. Furthermore, we have agreed scripts on cross-cutting issues like human rights, gender empowerment and youth. 3. Celebrate UN Days ― last year we celebrated around 30. We select those ‘International Days’ which connect with our ongoing development and humanitarian work. And we celebrate them. This allows us to hook onto a globally-celebrated day and then point to what the UN is doing on the ground in Iran. At the beginning of the year, the agencies plan to take the lead in organizing an activity for a specific day. 4. Give media interviews – frequently As the Resident Coordinator, I am often joined by agency heads who feel comfortable speaking with the press. We give frequent interviews with local and international media. Press releases and press briefing are structured media interactions that are used less frequently, e.g. when high-profile UN visitors come to Iran or when we have a report to launch. 5. Make the most of websites Almost every one of our 18 UN agencies runs their own website. Material from each of these sites is cross-linked to the UN Iran site. We average 70 stories each month on the UN Iran site. 6. Broadcast a regular E-Burst to friends worldwide At the end of each month we send out an e-mail with photos and links to stories to 1,500 recipients, including government officials, development partners, the private sector, media and civil society. Each issue begins with a brief overview of the preceding month’s events: one column in English; one column in Farsi. Readers can skim down the list of stories and open the links to the stories that interest them. 7. Use social media to greatly magnify messages If the UN is not visible through social media channels, no one will know about the great work we are doing. This will hurt our ability to share good practices, and it will hurt our ability to raise funds to expand the great work. The material that goes onto the website is also broadcast our other social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 8. Pay attention to quality control and speed Originally, I used to review all stories going up on the website before posting. But as time passed, others have assumed the quality control role with excellent results. As a rule we try to get up a story on any event within 24 hours. Speed is of the essence in conveying freshness and relevance. We have an enthusiastic and energetic UN communications team drawn from the UN agencies, which drives the process. 9. Try to use multiple languages In Iran, we try to run as many stories as possible in both English and Farsi. We are getting better at writing and Tweeting in both languages. 10. Monitor the results of public communications activities We are planning a Client Satisfaction Survey for our key audiences, using our 1,500 member E-Burst mailing list database. Proxy indicators can speak to scope and impact. The number of website hits is one example, along with data on the hit’s country of origin, length of time the visitor stayed, number of pages visited. We also track the number of stories we manage to place in the media. What do you think? How is Communicating as One being applied in your country?

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Country Stories

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?

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