Supporting the Sustainable Agenda at the Local Level with Data
In Indonesia, a university in Lampung is building an SDGs monitoring dashboard to improve data management and visualization for local governments.
Indonesia is accelerating its action plan to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 Agenda, a global blueprint for a sustainable future that leaves no one behind. In 2017, it enacted Presidential Decree No. 59, which integrates the 17 goals that comprise the SDGs in provincial government workplans (also known as RPJMD).
A few months after the announcement of the Presidential Decree, Lampung became the first province to launch a sub-national SDG action plan. Sub-national governments play a key role in ensuring the effective implementation of the SDGs by defining, implementing, and monitoring the goals within the local context—without which building solutions that effectively target local communities’ realities is challenging.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) supports efforts toward achieving the SDGs, not only at the national level through its assistance with the country roadmaps, but also in SDG localization efforts through engagement with higher education institutions.
Taking the SDGs to Lampung
Located on the southern tip of the island of Sumatra, the province of Lampung consists of thirteen regencies and two autonomous cities. In 2017, Lampung provincial government initiated its process of achieving the SDGs through the drafting of its Regional Action Plan.
According to data from Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas) and numbers from the Regional Action Plan, certain cities and regencies within Lampung have made considerable improvement across various SDG indicators, which serve as guidelines to implement and monitor national development agendas.
For example, under the ambit of SDG 3 (Good Health and Well Being), East Lampung witnessed an increase in the percentage pf population which used health insurance (Jaminan Kesehatan) to avail of health services from 36.66% in 2017 to 47.79% in 2019. Similarly, for indicators under SDG 4 (Quality Education), Bandar Lampung saw an increase in the literacy amongst the population (aged 15 and above) from 98.32% in 2017 to 99.36% in 2019.
While it is heartening to see progress in various regencies and cities in the Lampung, there remains some challenges in data management and data analysis across the different regency and city development agencies (Bappeda)—thus making it difficult to identify gaps in the province.
Building an SDG Dashboard Prototype
To find innovative solutions to the challenge at hand, the University of Lampung (UNILA) has recently set up an SDG Centre within the university. Recently, the Centre has been developing an SDG dashboard prototype to aid in the data analysis and data visualisation of the SDGs.
The prototype aims to map the achievement of the SDGs both at the university level as well as at the provincial level. At the university level, the dashboard tracks the university’s performance based on the 2019 Times Higher Education (THE) SDG indicators. The recent THE University Impact Rankings initiative uses indicators from 11 SDGs specifically tailored to gauge various universities’ SDG performance along three metrics: research, outreach, and stewardship. The dashboard has also been scaled up to the provincial level, with a prototype being developed for Bandar Lampung City, Lampung Timur Regency, and Kota Metro in the pilot phase.
At both the university and province sections, the UNILA SDG dashboard prototype provides tabular as well as visual representation of corresponding data from each indicator, showcasing the progress toward the achievement of the SDGs. Visualizing movements of trends at different time intervals is crucial for researchers and policy makers to identify gaps, paving the way for more evidence-based policy making.
The Road Ahead
The formulation of a Regional Action Plan is a step forward in achieving the SDGs. However, some key challenges still lie ahead for universities and for Indonesia in their quest to achieve the SDGs by 2030. First, the government has prepared a roadmap for achieving the SDGs, which highlights that funding remains a key issue. Implementing the SDG agenda requires significant resources and investment, which is often challenging for governments to singlehandedly fulfil. According to estimates by the United Nations, achieving the SDGs in developing countries faces financing gaps of nearly $2.5 trillion per year. This calls for higher involvement of private and nongovernment actors to help finance SDG efforts. As such, ADB has continuously reaffirmed its support to SDG-related projects in the region.
Second, there remains variability in local approaches to data collection and management. While some regencies, such as East Lampung, have collected data and prepared local-level SDG action plans, other regencies and cities are still gearing up to begin data collection. There is also lack of a uniform structure with respect to data collection and processing. Initiatives such as the SDG dashboard could aid in bringing structure and uniformity to data collection and management processes, acting as a guiding template for local governments embarking on their data journey.
Third, the SDG goals are highly interdependent. These 17 goals and their respective indicators (232 in total) cannot be looked at individually but must be seen through the lens of an integrated framework. The complex linkages between different indicators in the Indonesian context need to be researched and analyzed in order to build comprehensive and robust policy frameworks through the joint effort and collaboration of the government, the academe, and other nongovernment entities. This also requires fostering knowledge partnerships between universities and industries in order to catalyze innovation, an initiative that ADB, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and other development partners have been actively supporting in Indonesia.
The establishment of the UNILA SDG Centre serves to address a common concern in the realization of the SDG 2030 Action Plan: collaboration between stakeholders. The academe could play a key role as a facilitator between different stakeholders, as well as in leading the way for data-led analysis of the interdependencies of the individual goals and setting the foundation for designing efficient and better targeted policies.
P.D. Osterhof. 2018. Localizing the Sustainable Development Goals to Accelerate Implementation of the 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development. Governance Briefs. 33. Manila: Asian Development Bank.
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