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Purpose

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets which we are announcing today demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal Agenda….They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.”

“The SDGs and targets are integrated and indivisible, global in nature and universally applicable, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities. Targets are defined as aspirational and global, with each government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances. Each government will also decide how these aspirational and global targets should be incorporated in national planning processes, policies and strategies. It is important to recognize the link between sustainable development and other relevant ongoing processes in the economic, social and environmental fields.”

“We will implement the Agenda for the full benefit of all, for today’s generation and for future generations. In doing so, we reaffirm our commitment to international law and emphasize that the Agenda is to be implemented in a manner that is consistent with the rights and obligations of states under international law.”  

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UN 2015)

As the excerpt from The 2030 Agenda describes, the SDGs and targets are aspirational and global with each government called to: (a) decide how the SDGs should be incorporated into national planning processes, policies and strategies; (b) set their own national targets guided by the global level of ambition, but taking into account national circumstances; and (c) in the implementation of the Agenda build on existing commitments and in accordance with international human rights standards for the full benefit of all. Appropriate tools will need to be developed to translate the international normative framework into practical instruments to support operations at the national level.

The purpose of this section is to provide guidance to UNCTs for assisting Member States in taking stock of how The 2030 Agenda and SDGs are currently reflected in the national development strategy and planning processes and to identify potential areas for change. It is important at this stage to help create a common understanding of how well existing national, sub-national and local development plans and sectoral strategies align – in content and ambition – against the comprehensive scope of The 2030 Agenda and SDGs. This will provide the basis for establishing criteria for enhancing national plans whilst avoiding an à la carte approach. It will also be critical throughout the tailoring process to ensure that implementation targets do not fall below existing international standards, including legally-binding human rights obligations (OHCHR 2006).

This guidance builds on Section B2 which deals with multi-stakeholder processes because adapting SDGs to national contexts is inherently a complex task, and as such, necessitates that multiple perspective are brought to bear in the process of doing so.

Guidance

Member States can undertake a process for comparing the content of existing national, sub-national and local development strategies and plans with the SDGs outlined in The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Doing so at all levels of government is important at this stage as it provides a map of the existing landscape of development strategies and plans across the country and creates a knowledge base for providing guidance with regard to both vertical and horizontal policy integration and coherence (sections B4 and B5, respectively).

Adapting the SDGs to national contexts involves a multi-stage process whereby initial recommendations are made for addressing gaps and then undertaking a more in-depth systems analysis to prepare the foundation for creating policy coherence, identifying synergies and translating intermediate targets into national policy frameworks, including recognition of the interconnectedness of national, transnational, regional and global policy frameworks (by the country and on the country).

Specifically, the guidance offered in this section for UNCTs and Member States is four-fold:

  1. Reviewing existing strategies and plans and identifying areas for change: to scan and detail the landscape of existing strategies and plans at the national, sub-national and local levels and then compare against the global SDGs and targets to identify gaps and provide the basis for recommending areas for change;
  2. Making initial recommendations to the leadership of the national government: for addressing SDG gaps in existing strategies and plans whilst recognizing that the SDGs “…are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.”
  3. Setting nationally-relevant targets: for nationally-adapted and inclusive SDGs that are achievable, yet ambitious; and
  4. Formulating strategy and plans using systems thinking: to incorporate the recommendations and the insights from the above steps into strategies and plans and matching ambition and commitments with resources and capacities.

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MDG Lessons – The Experience in Mainstreaming the MDGs

By 2008, UNDP had helped 73 countries to align their National Development Strategies or PRSPs with the MDGs. PRSPs were a key entry point for MDG mainstreaming, as the MDG targets and indicators were translated into national targets and provided a framework to make national development strategies MDG-based.

Heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) candidate countries needed to outline the investments they would make with the funds released from debt relief in the PRSP; this was a natural entry point for a comprehensive MDG approach to national planning. The UN Millennium Project and UNDP developed Handbooks for Mainstreaming the MDGs into National Planning (UNMP, 2005; UNDP, 2005). MDG needs assessment tools were developed to acquaint country-level planners with the human resource, infrastructure, and financial needs of key MDG-related interventions. Complementary policy guidelines and tools for developing a sustainable fiscal space for MDG-related investments were developed.

Source: Pizarro (2013).

Reviewing Existing Strategies and Plans and Identifying Areas for Change

The task of reviewing existing strategies and plans and identifying areas for change can be viewed as a two-step process involving: (a) scanning and detailing the landscape of existing strategies and plans; and (b) comparing existing goals and targets with the global SDGs and targets.

A) Scanning and Detailing the Landscape of Existing Strategies and Plans: Most countries today have some form of national strategy or plan. The common types of plans are:

  • National Level: Long-term national vision  / national development plan or strategy / Medium-term development plan / National strategy for sustainable development (NSDS) / National economic plan or green economy plan / National human rights action plan (NHRAP) / Poverty reduction strategy (PRSP) / Annual budget plan / Sector strategies / Regional strategies / Medium Term Expenditure and Financing Frameworks (MTEFFs) / International and regional commitments;
  • Sub-national Level: Development plan / Sustainable development strategy / Economic plan or green economy plan; and
  • Local Level: Municipal plan / Local Agenda 21 or sustainable development strategy / Community quality of life, wellbeing, or sustainability indicators.

UNCTs could work with Member States to review existing strategies and plans to help identify where multiple strategies could be merged into one integrated plan, as in the case of Belize (see Innovative Case Example below); to explore how existing environmentally-focused sustainable development strategies could be broadened to also cover social and economic dimensions; to identify and eliminate implementation bottlenecks, to look at ways to ensure that no group is “left behind”, and illuminate key synergies between national and sub-national goals.

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Innovative Case Example: Merger of Development Plans in Belize

In the process of considering future SDG implementation in Belize through a collaboration among the Government of Belize and UNDESA & UNDP, the country’s Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy was merged with the National Sustainable Development Strategy into one unified and coherent strategy and planning process now called the Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy.

Source: UNDESA & UNDP (in UNDESA-DSD 2015a)

UNCTs and Member States can undertake, ideally as part of the Introductory Workshop Series introduced in Section B1, a scan of existing plans and strategies. This provides a hands on participatory exercise that stakeholders at the national, sub-national and local levels can do as a way to better understand the content and level of inclusion of the SDGs as well as their own plans. Section B3 on Applying Multi-stakeholder Approaches provides guidance on the identification and engagement of stakeholder groups.

Recommendations made to the country by UN human rights mechanisms (such as the UPR) are a valuable sources of information on the existing commitments made by the country in different areas, including in relation to specific groups (such as women, children, and persons with disabilities) and specific issues (such as education, health, access to justice), which could contribute to this analysis. Human rights recommendations can also help identify which groups are “being left behind” (OHCHR, Universal Human Rights Index).

The UNITAR Post-2015 National Briefing Package (module 6, slides 55-60) provides a rough guide and template for doing such a scan of existing plans and strategies.

B) Comparing Existing Goals and Targets with the Global SDGs and Targets: Using multi-stakeholder approaches (Section B3), Governments can undertake an analysis comparing the goals and targets and their outreach contained in existing development plans to those in the SDGs in order to assess areas of compatibility or conflict as well as any gaps in content as well as outreach to vulnerable groups. This could be done at both the goal level (17 goals), and the target level (169 targets).

Comparisons at the goal level can ideally be accomplished as part of the Introductory Workshop Series introduced in Section B1, as an extension to the participatory scanning exercise described above. Such an exercise not only sensitizes stakeholders at the national, sub-national and local levels to the content and coverage of the SDGs, but also amplifies the content of their own plans.

UNITAR’s National Briefings Package provides a simple tabular tool that stakeholders in a workshop setting can apply to make comparisons at the goal level between SDGs and existing plans (see slide 64 of module 6; Note that this requires participants to have access to a copy of their own plan during the workshop to use as a basis for the exercise).

A comparative analysis can also be undertaken at the target level. This is perhaps the most important aspect for policymaking. Given the large number of targets (169) supporting the 17 SDGs this analysis is best done at an expert working group level, rather than as part of a general participatory workshop setting described previously for the goal level.

A computer spreadsheet and workbook is well suited for such an analysis. A spreadsheet can be generated starting with an inventory of all 169 targets organized under the 17 goals in one column and adjacent columns used to identify the related target(s) from the existing plan and to provide a relative scoring as to how closely the targets are aligned. For instance, see the innovative case examples below of Germany and UNDP’s new Rapid Integrated Assessment tool that was applied in Bhutan, Cabo Verde, Namibia and Tonga.

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Innovative Case Example: Germany’s SDG Analysis Process

In 2015 the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) submitted its statement on ‘Germany’s Sustainability Architecture and the SDGs’ to the federal government. The comments contained in the statement were the result of two work phases.

In the first phase the present state of affairs was explored with over 80 experts and an interim report was drafted. To do so, RNE created an analysis spreadsheet for each SDG and used the services of a consultant to engage with experts to explore the analysis questions in the spreadsheet (e.g., does the SDG address a topic that Germany is dealing with domestically; Is Germany a type of provider of solutions in this regard).

In the second phase the RNE drafted a detailed set of recommendations with the involvement of the staff level of the federal ministries.

Source: RNE (2015) and personal communication with the RNE Secretary General.

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Innovative Case Example: Rapid Integrated Assessment Policy Tool in Bhutan, Cabo Verde, Namibia and Tonga.

Bhutan, Cabo Verde, Namibia and Tonga have recently piloted a prototype tool developed by UNDP – a Rapid Integrated Policy Assessment that helps countries to gauge their readiness for SDG implementation. This assessment tool provides an indicative overview of a country’s level of alignment with the 2030 Agenda through a gap analysis of SDG targets that are not prioritised in the current national development plans and strategies, and relevant sector strategies. It also identifies inter-linkages across targets, including targets that are prioritised by multiple sectors, and sectors where actions can impact multiple SDGs.

In Bhutan, the assessment found a high level of integration of the SDG targets into the 11th national plan. 93 SDG targets have been prioritised out of 102 targets. The targets under SDG 14 on Oceans (as Bhutan is a landlocked country) and SDG 17 on Means of Implementation were excluded from the analysis. The results illustrate the philosophical alignment between Bhutan’s National Vision 2020 and the principles expressed in the 2030 Agenda. Identified gaps and possible cross-sectoral linkages could be considered useful entry points for discussions on the further elaboration of plans to implement the 2030 Agenda.

Source: UNDP, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support.

Specific tools have also been created recently that can take the comparative analysis even further. For example, the U.K.-based Stakeholder Forum developed an SDG Scorecard that can serve as a tool “to illuminate a national conversation or consultation with stakeholders about the relative applicability of the different goals and targets in that country, so as to focus implementation strategies and action plans around the highest priority elements.” The scorecard enables an expert to assess each global SDG target against each of the three following categories:

  • Applicability: Is it relevant to domestic challenges and related public policy? Is it there already domestic action or policy relevant to the goal/target?
  • Implementability: Is the goal/target realistically achievable within the timeframe outlined?  Can the goal/target be easily translated into action at the national level? Is the necessary data currently available? and
  • Transformationalism: Is the framework more ambitious than the mere continuation of current trends? Will the achievement of the goal/target result in more sustainable outcomes both domestically and globally? Does the goal/target address the root causes and drivers of the identified challenges?

The Sustainability Analysis Grid Tool developed by the éco-conseil de l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi is another such tool that can be used to assess SDGs in a national context (éco-conseil 2015).

A clear understanding of the SDGs and their associated targets is necessary for any comparative analysis. Efforts are underway in the context of many of the goals to help provide a common understanding of specific goals and targets. The climate agreement reached at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the Framework Convention on Climate Change is one notable example. Other examples include the Education 2030 Framework for Action and the Cairo Declaration on Gender Equality. See the Innovative Case Examples below for more information.

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Innovative Case Example: The Cairo Declaration – A Regional Commitment to Gender Equality

In a region where many countries have reservations to The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), brokering government commitment to the gender equality agenda – and doing this through a consultative process with input from civil society – is a success that resulted in the Cairo Declaration by the Arab League. The Declaration is the single most comprehensive document on gender equality in the Arab region, and was followed up with an action plan to guide implementation, calling for empowered Arab states to achieve and guarantee all women’s rights at all levels and during all stages of life by 2030.  Equality will be established between men and women within the context of achieving the goals of the post-2015 development agenda.

The action plan, adopted by the League of Arab States, has eight key outcome areas committing member states to: 1) create a more gender sensitive legislative environment; 2) mainstreaming gender in all planning, policies and budgets; 3) increase women´s participation in decision making by 30%; 4) a 50% increase in women´s participation in the labor market; 5) access to social protection and services, including health, education and legal aid; 6) free women and girls from violence, while ensuring access to services for those who are affected by violence; 7) establishing national frameworks for women, peace and security, and; 8) establishing national frameworks to protect women and girls in humanitarian emergencies, and to address terrorism and insecurities.

Source : UN Women

Making Initial SDG Recommendations to Leadership of the National Government

With a review in hand of how the goals of existing national strategies and plans already support the SDGs as well as any gap, government officials and stakeholders can explore initial recommendations to be delivered to the leadership of their national government relating to how the comprehensive scope of the SDGs across economic, social and environmental dimensions can help reach long-term national development objectives and how existing national plans could be augmented to support the SDGs and targets. This requires a good understanding of the current and evolving political process in respective countries by all stakeholders.

The kind of recommendations that are referred to here are about suggesting ways forward that help ensure that the integrity of the 2030 Agenda is maintained at national level in that the SDGs “…are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental” (2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development). While it will most likely be the case that governments will need to set priorities to achieve their nationally adapted targets over time, the recommendations that emerge out of a comparison of existing national plans and the SDGs (including all their targets) should aim at providing a foundation for both medium and long-term plans that are dedicated to unlocking the synergies of progress across all three dimensions of sustainable development, with a particular eye to leaving no one behind.

The exploration and formulation of recommendations delivered to leadership should address not only the substantive issues relating to the need for new or revised goals and targets, but also issues related to the means of implementation. This could include recommendations such as the integration of two separate planning tracks, as in the case of Belize (see previous Innovative Case Example), or how to bring the SDGs directly into the next national planning cycle, as in the case of Uganda (see Innovative Case Example Below).

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Innovative Case Example: SDG Integration in Uganda’s Second National Development Plan

In its 2nd National Development Planning process in support of the country’s Vision 2040, the Government of Uganda discovered that the SDGs “offered an initial framework through which different sectors could trace their linkages to the national priority areas (in UNDESA-DSD 2015a).”

“SDGs were included directly in Chapter 3 of the NDPII that sets out the broader context for Ugandan development strategies. An important share of SDG targets was adjusted to national circumstances and included in the NDPII results framework. The Government is planning to further incorporate SDG targets and indicators in a more detailed results framework and refine it using the SDGs structure (in UNITAR 2015a).”

Source: in UNITAR (2015a)

Given the complexity inherent in the task of making recommendations for SDG integration, a multi-stakeholder body or forum is uniquely able to deliver both the credibility and legitimacy of a diverse set of views in a timely and cost-effective manner.

The case of Germany, featured below, illustrates how recommendations for adapting The 2030 Agenda and SDGs to the national context were explored, formulated and delivered by the independent German National Council for Sustainable Development (RNE). These recommendations addressed both means of implementation as well as specific recommendations to change their National Sustainable Development Strategy to revise existing goals and create new ones to help deliver the SDGs nationally and globally.

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Innovative Case Example: SDG Recommendations to the German Government

In 2015 the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) submitted its statement on ‘Germany’s Sustainability Architecture and the SDGs’ to the federal government. The content of the recommendation report included the following areas:

  • General: 2 recommendations dealing with the publishing of the recommendations and broadening the public debate on sustainable development
  • Sustainability as a principle of action: 3 recommendations identifying the existing national SD strategy as the appropriate instrument for implementing the SDGs, and addressing monitoring and review and global financial assistance.
  • Global partnerships: 4 recommendations for advancing the use of national SD strategies around the world, including in the EU.
  • Germany’s responsibility: 12 recommendations relating to new perspectives for a ‘German SD Strategy’, including a proposal for all goals to relate to 2030 as a rule, and for broad participation and involvement in implementing the strategy.
  • Redefinition of Germany’s sustainability architecture: 8 recommendations relating to sustainability as a law-shaping principle and institutional interfaces between global and national.
  • Structure of the 2016 German Sustainability Strategy: 8 recommendations relating to monitoring and peer review.
  • Germany’s 2016 goals for sustainable development: 4 recommendations relating to the integration of SDGs in the national SD strategy.
  • Detailed proposals: Recommendations providing more in-depth discussion across 29 sustainable development issue areas.

Source: RNE (2015).

Setting Nationally-Relevant Targets

Adapting the SDGs to national contexts inherently involves Member States setting their own targets guided by the level of ambition of the global SDGs and targets, but taking into account national circumstances. UNCTs can assist Member States with general guidance for target setting in relation to the guidance offered below.

Setting time-bound targets requires the identification of specific indicators and an understanding of the level and disaggregation of measurement for those indicators. At the global level, the SDGs and targets will be followed-up and reviewed using a set of global indicators. The global indicator framework will be developed by the UN Statistical Commission’s Inter Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators by March 2016 and adopted thereafter by the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly. Therefore target setting efforts by countries in the tailoring of SDGS to national contexts would most effectively work in step with this timeline.

Additionally, The 2030 Agenda recognizes “that baseline data for several of the targets remain unavailable” and calls for “increased support for strengthening data collection and capacity building in Member States, to develop national and global baselines where they do not yet exist.” And through The 2030 Agenda, Member States “commit to addressing this gap in data collection so as to better inform the measurement of progress, in particular for those targets below which do not have clear numerical targets.”

The setting of targets for any specific indicator can be informed by several different types of criteria, for example (UNEP 2007):

  • Benchmarks: Comparison with a documented best-case performance related to the same variable within another entity or jurisdiction;
  • Thresholds: The value of a key variable that will elicit a fundamental and irreversible change in the behaviour of the system;
  • Principles: A broadly defined and often formally accepted rule;
  • Standards: Nationally and/or internationally accepted value (i.e., a water quality standard); and
  • Policy-specified: Determined in a political and/or technical process taking past performance and desirable outcomes into account.

In most situations, target setting is an involved process that is both deliberative and analytical. For example, consider the logical framework for the process of setting targets used by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the World Health Organization in the context of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Trans-boundary Watercourses and International Lakes. In this case, the process of setting targets begins with the identification of key stakeholders and proceeds with baseline analyses to inform the agreement of broad-based targets and further consultation to agree on specific targets.

Recognizing that threats to people’s survival, livelihood and dignity can vary considerably within countries and at different points in time, the human security approach can assist UNCTs and Member States to adapt national SDG implementation plans to specific sub-national and local contexts (UNTFHS 2015). While national-level indicators can overlook variance at the sub-national and local levels, based on people-centred and context-specific, comprehensive and prevention-oriented principles, the human security approach provides a set of tools to gather data on people’s actual needs, vulnerabilities and capacities that is disaggregated by region, gender, ethnic identity and religion, among others. The approach has led to inclusive and participatory processes which have revealed gaps in existing strategies and mismatches between local realities and national policies and programmes (see Innovative Case Example below).  The approach works to strengthen synergies between national goals and actions at sub-national and local levels to ensure that nobody is left behind.

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Innovative Case Example: Human Security in Theory and Practice

The national human development report in Benin, titled “Human Security and Human Development in Benin”, provides a practical example of the Human Security approach in action. Using the human security tools, a household survey greatly expanded the understanding of the challenges faced by communities in different regions to compliment the quantitative data gathered through the national Human Development Index. It provided additional information on the inter-related challenges people face in their daily lives and highlighted their uneven distribution across the country and between the different segments of the population. Subsequently, the report laid out a human security-based national development plan that enabled the Government and the UNCT to tailor national development priorities to diverse local contexts.

Furthermore, in support of national development and stabilization efforts in Egypt, UNIDO, UN Women, UN-HABITAT, ILO and IOM, in close partnership with the local Government, are applying the human security approach through a joint programme in the Minya Governate, a region often over-looked by national development initiatives. Local “Human Security Forums” have been established as means to integrate national development strategies and tailor their implementation to the local context. These inclusive Forums provide a unique opportunity for communities to participate in setting local priorities and defining local development strategies as well as a conduit to link local and sub-national agendas with national development plans.

Source: United Nations Human Security Unit

Formulating Strategies and Plans Using Systems Thinking

This step involves the obvious, yet challenging task of incorporating the relevant SDG gap recommendations into the national development plan and supporting sector plans.  Every Member State has in place their own procedures for creating a national strategy or plan, and these should be the focus for implementing SDG recommendations. UNCTs could begin discussing with Member States how to incorporate systems thinking approaches and tools to help prioritize key policies, programmes and projects that have the greatest potential for systems-level change and realizing co-benefits across multiple issue areas.

The case of Belize is a good example of the incorporation of systems thinking in the formulation of their national development plan (see Innovative Case Example below).

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Innovative Case Example: Systems Thinking and Strategy Formulation in Belize

UNDESA-DSD jointly with UNDP provided technical assistance to the Belize government in 2014-15 in relation to SDG integration. The VISIS methodology was used to guide the assistance (Vision > Indicators > Systems > Innovation > Strategy; Atkisson 2010) and as part of this process insights on key cause-and-effect linkages emerged yielding important policy linkages across immigration, health and environmental issues (Atkisson 2015).

Additionally, the Belize government created a multi-factor analysis tool to help prioritize actions that have the greatest potential for system-level change (see below).

Source: in UNITAR (2015a)

The importance of implementing cross-cutting programmes and policies was emphasized at the 2014 Sustainable Development Transition Forum hosted by the UN Office for Sustainable Development. Participants at this global forum agreed that “anticipating the very real challenges that all countries will face in securing adequate financing for sustainable development and the future fiscal pressures posed by climate change adaptation and recovery from economic shocks, doing more with less will become a basic operating principle in the decades ahead (UNOSD 2014).”

Toolkit

UNITAR National Briefing Package

  • Scanning the landscape of existing strategies and plans: UNITAR Module 6, slides 55-60.
  • Comparative analysis of SDGs and existing goals (goal level): UNITAR Module 6, slide 64.

UNDP Rapid Integrated Assessment Policy Tool

This spreadsheet-based assessment tool provides an indicative overview of a country’s level of alignment with the 2030 Agenda through a gap analysis of SDG targets that are not prioritised in the current national development plans and strategies, and relevant sector strategies (UNDP, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support).

SDG Scorecard

Created by the U.K.-based Stakeholder Forum, the SDG Scorecard enables an assessment of each global SDG target in relation to its applicability, implementability and transformative potential in a national context (Stakeholder Forum 2015).

Sustainability Analysis Grid Tool

Advanced tools have been developed over the years for analysing existing plans and projects for their alignment with sustainability principles, and some of these have already been customized to work with the SDGs. For example, éco-conseil de l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, has developed the Sustainability Analysis Grid tool (éco-conseil 2015). This tool was featured at the 2015 UNDESA Workshop on Integrated Approaches to Sustainable Development (UNDESA-DSD 2015a) and is being adapted for application to SDGs at the national level (Villeneuve 2015).

Logical Framework for the Process of Setting Targets

Used by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the World Health Organization in the context of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Trans-boundary Watercourses and International Lakes (UNECE & WHO 2010).

Human Security Analysis Guidance

Systems Thinking and Strategy Formulation

Human Rights Guidance

Gender Mainstreaming Guidance

Decent Work Guidance

Education Guidance

References and Links

Atkisson (2015). Introduction to the VISIS Method: Vision > Indicators > Systems > Innovation > Strategy. Presented at the UNDESA Workshop on Integrated Approaches for Sustainable Development, New York, May 27-292015. 

Atkisson (2010). The Sustainability Transformation: How to Accelerate Positive Change in Challenging Times. Earthscan: London.

Crawford, J. (2015). Sustainable Development Planning and Strategy Formulation: An Integrated Systems Approach. Presentation delivered at the UNDESA Workshop on Integrated Approaches to Sustainable Development.

Eco-conseil (2015). Guide d’analyse de DD: version longue (2014 v). éco-conseil de l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi.

FMS-ASG (2015). Sentinel Visualizer: Advanced Link Analysis, Data Visualization, Geospatial Mapping, and Social Network Analysis. FMS Advanced Systems Group.

Howells, et al. (2013). Integrated analysis of climate change, land-use, energy and water strategies. Nature Climate Change 3, 621–626. 

Huisman, Mark and van Duijn, Marijtje A.J. (2011). A reader’s guide to SNA software. In J. Scott and P.J. Carrington (Eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Social Network Analysis (pp. 578-600). London: SAGE. Listing of software for social network analysis supporting the chapter

ILO (2013) Social protection assessment based national dialogue: A good practices guide. International Labour Organization. 

MI (2011). Strengthening Institutional Capacity for Integrated Climate Change Adaptation & Comprehensive National Development Planning in Kenya – Final Report. Millennium Institute. 

MI (2015). Historical Development and Applications of the T21 Model. Millennium Institute. 

Mrvar, A. and V. Batagelj (2015). Pajek, version 3 and 4: Programs for Analysis and Visualization of Very Large Networks – Reference Manual.

OHCHR. Universal human rights index – for specific recommendations on each country

OHCHR (2006). Frequently Asked Questions on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Development Cooperation.

Otte, E and R. Ronald (2002). “Social network analysis: a powerful strategy, also for the information sciences”. Journal of Information Science 28: 441–453.

Pizarro, G. (2013). Lessons From the Operationalization of the MDGs. 2013 Global MDG Conference, UNDP Working Paper. No. 10, UNDP Publishing.

RNE (2015). Germany’s Sustainability Architecture and the SDGs: Statement provided by the German Council for Sustainable Development to Federal Minister Peter Altmaier in accordance with Sect 1 (2)b RNE Rules of Procedure. 26 May 2015. 

Sánchez, M. (2015).  Modelling tools to support evidence-based policy decision making for sustainable development. Presentation delivered at the Workshop on Integrated Approaches to Sustainable Development, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development, New York, May 27-29.

UNDESA-DSD (2015a). Report of the Workshop on Integrated Approaches to Sustainable Development, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. New York, 27-29 May 2015. Available at: 

UNDESA-DSD (2015b). Towards integration at last? The sustainable development goals as a network of targets. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  DESA Working Paper No. 141. Available at: 

UNDG (2011). The UN Common Learning Package on HRBA to Programming.

UNDG. The UN Practitioners’ Portal on Human Rights Based Approaches to Programming.

UNDP (2012). Kenya Threshold 21 Dynamic Model Report. United Nations Development Program – Africa Adaptation Program.

UNEP (2007). Integrated Environmental Assessment Training Manual – Module 5: Integrated Analysis of Environmental Trends and Policies, p 54. United Nations Environment Program, Division of Early Warning and Assessment. 

UNOSD (2014).  Incheon Communique – 2014 Sustainable Development Transition Forum. 9-11 April, Incheon, Republic of Korea. United Nations Office for Sustainable Development.

World Bank (2015). Maquette for MDG Simulations – MAMS. World Bank.

Villeneuve, C. (2015). A Sustainability Analysis Tool for SDG’s. Presentation at UNDESA’s Workshop on Integrated Approaches to Sustainable Development, New York, 27-29 May. 

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Silo Fighters Blog

We want to hear from you: digital forums and community trust in local government in Somalia

BY Isatou Batonon, Liam Perret | April 5, 2018

Good news and Somalia are words that rarely appear in the same sentence. The country is slowly emerging from decades of conflict and recurrent drought, and continues to be the victim of tragic terrorist attacks, the most recent and deadliest of which occurred in October 2017. And yet, there is positive news to report. Somalia successfully organized presidential elections in February 2017, a major milestone for a country that has long been plagued by political instability. Other signs of progress include the formation of new federal member states and, most recently, of district councils. It is the establishment of these local governance structures, which are closest to the population and best placed to respond to local needs, which offer the most promising opportunities for successful state-building in Somalia. Seizing opportunities and addressing gaps As the district council formation and local governance process extends to new member states over the coming months, the quality of relationships between local government and citizens will become increasingly important. A local governance foundation based on trust, cooperation and legitimacy is critical to realizing greater stability and security in the country. It is in this context that we, the Somalia Resident Coordinator’s Office/Peace-building Fund Secretariat and UNICEF Somalia, developed a joint initiative aimed at giving voice to community priorities and concerns, and stimulating dialogue between local government officials and their constituents in two key districts: Baidoa and Kismayo. Our Daldhis project is funded under the Voice pillar of the UN DOCO Delivering Together for Sustainable Development Facility and implemented through the Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery, a multi-agency UN programme which supports the establishment of legitimate and functional local government across Somalia. We want to hear from you The in-depth consultations we held with federal, state and district officials at the start of the initiative revealed that, not only were these stakeholders wanting to hear from their constituents, but they were also eager to interact directly with them on the issues that citizens care about. District and state officials have generally been confined to the capital cities and been unable to conduct any outreach in the community. Drought-related population movements and low levels of access due to chronic insecurity, both of which have disproportionately affected this part of the country, have all posed challenges to stronger engagement between local authorities and their constituents. There is subsequently a real demand for cost-effective, accessible and open spaces for public engagement and dialogue. Public officials expressed to us their eagerness to hear from citizens about the quality of service delivery, security and public participation in decision-making. There was also interest in understanding the public’s perception of government efforts to integrate the large numbers of IDPs and former refugees who have arrived in Kismayo district in particular. While government authorities are the primary beneficiaries of this initiative, we and other implementing partners also lack the means to conduct real time community level surveys that can serve programme implementation and the needs of their government partners. Nuanced feedback gathered from citizens in pre-existing and valued social spaces can be useful in making the policies and services delivered by government and implementing partners more responsive to the needs of citizens. Establishing the interactive forum and building engagement As part of the UN Country Team, UNICEF, in partnership with Africa Voices Foundation, designed a research and citizen engagement initiative based on the community scorecard methodology. While this approach has been tried before in more stable parts of the country, the challenge in southern Somalia was to establish large-scale and inclusive forums for citizen-government dialogue that are unhindered by barriers of insecurity or access. Given the extent of mobile phone penetration and reach of radio in Somalia, it was decided to base the initiative around SMS messaging and interactive radio in Baidoa and Kismayo. Five radio stations were selected across the two districts – including a mixture of independent and government owned radio stations to ensure greater engagement public engagement and a diverse range of opinions in the radio discussions. Each week questions on service delivery, security, civic engagement and returnee integration are disseminated through radio broadcasts across the target districts. Citizens then respond via toll-free SMS messages with their opinion/perspective on the topic. These messages are analysed by Africa Voices Foundation to provide in-depth insight into citizen perceptions on priority topics, and how they vary by demographic group. In the first instance, this analysis provides the key talking points for monthly interactive radio consultations. Emerging themes, trends and illustrative messages are read out on air in conversation with policymakers and government officials who are given the opportunity to respond and interact with callers. The analysis also serves to amplify citizen voices as robust forms of evidence for decision-making. The first of two rounds of the scorecard exercise has recently been completed. The first set of questions have focused on citizen perceptions of service delivery, security and local government roles and priorities. 1,055 people engaged through SMS in the two districts over the first three weeks, with especially strong reach among youth (68% of respondents were under 24 years), IDPs, those in urban centres and those with secondary or higher levels of education. Key findings from analysis of citizen feedback show that: Men, older people and those with higher education and were all more likely to be dissatisfied with local government services than other audience members. The narratives used by citizens to proclaim satisfaction with service delivery often focused on perceptions of overall positive change in their environment, rather than predetermined notions of what government should deliver. Those dissatisfied with local government performance often discussed this in terms of government failing to live up to certain political values, whether they were transparency, fairness or abiding by Somali cultural and religious norms. They also mentioned a range of services that they perceived as lacking including education, healthcare, infrastructure and water and sanitation. There was a clear lack of consensus amongst radio audiences on which institution(s) should be responsible for security. Many voices pointed to the community and citizens themselves as being the primary arbiters of security, rather than any formal institution. We shared these findings in the form of reports produced in English and Somali with local authorities. We recently organized the first of two radio shows in Baidoa and Kismayo and included key representatives from local and state level government who were interviewed based on the concerns that citizens had raised. Radio and citizen feedback State and district authorities have reported being satisfied with the radio format as a way of disseminating their work to the public, and value it as a space to hear and respond to citizen perspectives on their work. They also see value in using citizen feedback to guide civic education efforts, particularly as the district council formation process intensifies in Jubbaland and Southwest states. Public engagement: A key lesson we learned is that an initiative such as this one should remain flexible and adapt to trending topics so as to remain relevant and build public engagement. Participation from the public and from local government officials has not been as strong in Kismayo as it has been in Baidoa. Kismayo district has been at the centre of ongoing political tensions between the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Member States, as each vies for their share of power and resources under the new federalism arrangements. Representatives of the Member States met in Kismayo recently to discuss their grievances with the Federal Government and this coincided with the first round of the scorecard. The airwaves were dominated by discussions about these tensions (and of the deadly terror attack that had just taken place), and this left little room for public engagement on the scorecard questions which focused on service delivery. While this can be difficult to achieve within the context of a small pilot project, a longer-term intervention should be able to tap into initiatives like the Somalia Big Data project implemented by the UN Global Pulse to identify and leverage trending topics. Technology: Using new technologies increases the reach and inclusivity of citizen engagement but it also comes with limitations: FM radio coverage is mainly focused on urban areas and use of SMS responses means that those with very low levels of literacy may be excluded. This is also reflected in the demographic breakdown of respondents, as described previously. However, the literacy barrier may be overcome in the future with the introduction of other technologies such as Interactive Voice Response (IVR). The reach of shortwave radio may also increase participation from rural areas. Findings: The nature of the SMS and radio-based scorecard means that it is not possible to gain a ‘representative’ sample of respondents from which to calculate statistics that can be generalised (e.g. x% of people believe that public services are of poor quality). However, this initiative seeks to unearth rich qualitative data that can provide the ‘why’ behind trends and public opinion that surveys fail to provide. Moreover by ensuring diversity in the discussions, and drawing comparisons between groups (e.g. men and women, IDPs and non-IDPs), it is possible to discuss how perception varies between them. The finding that women, younger and less educated respondents were perhaps less willing to criticize government performance than their male, older and more educated counterparts was of particular interest to government officials as it suggests the need for greater engagement with this segment of the population in order to solicit and respond to their feedback. Radio stations and citizen-state dialogue: This is the first time that government-run radio stations are engaging in an initiative such as this one in Somalia. The project is providing an opportunity to build the capacity of these radio stations and strengthen their role as facilitators of citizen-state dialogue and cooperation. The space we created through SMS and radio has also opened up opportunities for citizens to discuss issues that fall outside of the scope of the intervention. For example, a number of messages have focused on Somali values and government’s relationship with al-Shabaab. This suggests that there is real potential for such an initiative to promote broader debate and dialogue in Somali society. As we move  into the second and final round of questions and radio shows focusing on citizen engagement and reintegration issues, there will be more opportunities for the Somali government and its development partners to better understand how constructive relationships can be fostered and sustained between citizens and local governments, as they seek to build the foundations for inclusive, effective and accountable local governance in Somalia. PHOTO: Internews Europe  

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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