The SDG Local Data Action Solutions Initiative (LDA-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 sub-national SDG implementation efforts, including USA-SCI, experience has proven the importance of data and monitoring activities for providing structure to local 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 sub-national SDG implementation increases, new local entities (cities, counties, states and provinces) are joining the global effort and are seeking guidance on how to build locally-appropriate, effective data solutions.

LDA-SI focuses in on a primary objective: promoting sound, replicable technical methods for sub-national SDG monitoring that facilitate local action in support of the “leave no one behind” principle (LNOB).  This objective will be achieved by harnessing knowledge from actual local experiences, and will use these to generate technical guidance and inform a learning exchange.  The SI convenes practical know-how of sound SDG data localization, beginning with a bedrock of technical and process-oriented learning from first-mover cities, metropolitan areas and regions as they adapt the SDG framework locally. It will serve as the living library for case studies and technical knowledge developed in consultation with implementing stakeholders, including city staff, stakeholders and their technical partners.  Through LDA-SI, SDSN aims to contribute to SDG data and localization communities as a learning partner on sub-national data and monitoring.

Building a Virtual Library of Sub-national SDG Data Tools and Guidance

As momentum for new local efforts expands, actors are seeking more guidance on the “how to” of SDG localization. Straddling two work streams at SDSN, LDA-SI documents and promotes sub-national SDG data models and methods to provide “blueprints” and case study lessons that can be applied in other sub-national initiatives. As part of this, LDA-SI is building a library of case studies, tools and technical guidance that document and support sub-national SDG data and monitoring efforts.

This LDA-SI library will feature a selection of LDA-SI knowledge briefs that document methodological lessons and innovative data tools so that these can be transferred and adapted to support local SDG achievement strategies around the world. New knowledge briefs, prepared in 2018, will also include information on how local data activities improve stakeholder representation and engagement, both in their outputs and in their process.  

A series of briefs that were prepared in Summer/Fall of 2017 are listed below.  In an endeavor to expand this online library resource, the LDA-SI team is looking for briefs and resources to add to the collection.  The team welcomes all suggestions and contributions – please email your ideas to:  LDA-SI will also provide a limited number of micro grants to promote knowledge on innovative sub-national SDG data solutions.  More information on the micro grant opportunity, which is currently accepting applications, can be found here.

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.