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The SDG Local Data Action Solutions Initiative (SI) is a crossover project between the USA-Sustainable Cities Initiative (USA-SCI) and the Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (TReNDS).Upon the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by 193 countries in September 2015, a clear consensus emerged that data would play a key role in measuring- and achieving – progress towards the goals. Stakeholders from across national governments, private sector corporations, and civil society groups have mobilized to this effect. And now, almost two years into the agenda, the importance of supporting local action in this global data effort is becoming even more apparent.  And experience is showing that local SDG data and monitoring initiatives provide a platform for broad stakeholder engagement that, in effect, promotes more relevant, effective and inclusive SDG implementation.

Participatory indicator assessments in Baltimore, Maryland

In SDSN’s city-level SDG implementation efforts, including USA-SCI, experience has proven the importance of data and monitoring activities for providing structure to city strategies for target achievement. Experience has also shown that these data and monitoring activities need to consider stakeholders – both as data providers and as data users – to ensure these tools are locally relevant, and useful in the quest to achieve SDG targets. As momentum for city-level SDG implementation increases, new cities joining the global effort are seeking guidance on how to build locally-appropriate, effective data solutions. A few cities are breaking new ground in this area, and their examples can provide real-life lessons and guidance for others.

Straddling two work streams at SDSN, SDG Local Data Action documents local-level SDG data efforts to provide “blueprints” for other cities to apply. These “blueprints” document methodological lessons and innovative data tools drawn from city-level SDG initiatives so that these can be transferred and adapted to other city contexts and utilized to support their SDG achievement strategies. They also include information on ways that stakeholders engage in SDG city initiatives through those local data activities.  

SDG Local Data Action takes advantage of SDSN’s role as a convener of knowledge, methods, and best practices in localized SDG measurement. It captures practical guidance for critical questions as it convenes a community of practice that will provide the foundation of a new hub for problem-solving on SDG city data localization, which also demonstrate different modalities for stakeholder engagement and participation, and the SI will champion and disseminate innovative lessons from these experiences.

Subnational SDG Strategies briefing series

As momentum for new local efforts expands, actors are seeking more guidance on the “how to” of SDG localization, and a growing array of city-level data localization efforts get underway their methods and means for stakeholder involvement are providing critical lessons in real time.  With this in mind, SDG Local Data Action is documenting city-level SDG data and monitoring efforts in order to provide transferable “blue prints” for other cities to use in their own local SDG initiatives.

United States of America

Bay Area/ San Jose, California:
Data Tools for the California Bay Area: Actionable Intelligence for Cities to Support SDG Achievement 

Baltimore, Maryland:
Finding Sustainable Data Sources to Track Evictions to Monitor Progress for Achieving SDG16


Rio de Janeiro metro region:
Metropolitan Planning and Governance in Brazil: How the use of SDG data can help to deliver better results in public administration

Other Solutions Initiatives

  • Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project

    The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) is an SDSN Solution Initiative co-founded with the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) to prepare national low-emission development pathways to 2050, consistent with limiting the rise in global temperatures to well below 2°C, as agreed in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

  • Agricultural Transformation Pathways initiative

    This SDSN Solution Initiative aims to provide support to countries in choosing realistic targets that are congruent with the new SDGs and developing technology and socio-economic roadmaps for meeting selected targets.

  • USA Sustainable Cities Initiative (USA-SCI)

    Building on ongoing municipal sustainable development planning efforts, the USA Sustainable Cities Initiative (USA-SCI) is supporting SDG achievement strategies in three pilot US cities: New York (New York), Baltimore (Maryland), and San Jose (California).

  • Reconciling Development Data

    The process of data reconciliation, which stitches together multiple related datasets, can increase the efficiency and achieve a level of specificity hitherto unavailable to most statistics offices.

  • Rio Sustainable Cities Initiative: SDG Implementation in a Metropolitan Context

    The Rio Sustainable Cities Initiative recognizes that comprehensive sustainable urban development necessitates local and national cooperation. Holistic planning cannot be confined to local boundaries. This is particularly important as cities strive to achieve the urban sustainable development goal (SDG 11), to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

  • The World in 2050

    The World in 2050 (TWI2050) is a global research initiative in support of a successful implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda. The goal of TWI2050 is to provide the fact-based knowledge to support the policy process and implementation of the SDGs.

  • Open Algorithms Project

    The Open Algorithms project (OPAL) is led by the DataPop Alliance with partners Orange, World Economic Forum, Agence France du Developpement, PARIS21, and SDSN. OPAL demonstrates a pathway to harness private data for the public good while maintaining the datasets’ privacy, security, and proprietary value. By developing a mechanism for querying telecommunications data behind the […]

  • Virtual Open Schools

    The Virtual Open School project aims to identify and test a model for large-scale, online provision of quality secondary level education in rural areas in an economically sustainable way.