Spotlight on LDA-SI Grantee: Community Systems Foundation's OpenCities Institute, India (2018-2019 cohort)

Written by Jay Neuner with Sandra Ruckstuhl

In 2018, TReNDS launched a microgrant program through SDSN’s Local Data Action Solutions Initiative (LDA-SI). During this calendar year, the program is supporting five sub-national SDG data and monitoring efforts. Through real-world examples, these projects are generating a series of adaptable models that can be utilized in locations around the world to improve local SDG achievement. Learn more about the program here.

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are often framed in global terms–as the “Global Goals” or efforts to save our planet–or national terms–such as in the Voluntary National Review process, to which individual countries can commit. Community Systems Foundation is among those calling for a complementary approach–that of “listening to cities.”

The organization’s urban initiative OpenCities Institute (OCI), a 2018-2019 LDA-SI grantee, is using its micro-grant support to do just this in India. Much like LDA-SI does at a global scale, OCI is embedding know-how, tools, and capacity for the use of city-level data by sub-national governments in India, with the goal of facilitating evidence-based solutions for the SDGs.

Under the program, OCI will develop a proof-of-concept package for SDG localization that will demonstrate to cities the feasibility and the value of local SDG monitoring. It includes development of a model indicator framework for the city of Patiala in Punjab that reflects upon its municipal human development objectives across sectors. The development of this framework will not happen in a silo; rather, OCI aims to make this an inclusive process by conducting consultative workshops with local stakeholders and experts, as well as municipal officials.

The resulting framework will be illustrated in a prototype data dashboard that serves as a one-stop visual overview of the city’s development priorities, seen through the lens of the SDG indicators, thereby “valorizing the SDG localization process through data visualization.” In future stages, the results of this project may support a full-scale SDG observatory in the region.

This project hopes to showcase how SDG localization can evolve into a living reference dashboard and generate local action by adopting a data driven approach to sustainable urban development. In particular, OCI’s work in this grant program will aid a particular urban context–Indian cities such as Patiala, that have limited exposure to a global stage yet have initiated their commitment to harness datasets and drive effective actions.  

Learn more about the OpenCities Institute here.

Follow updates on the 2018-2019 microgrant cohort here.