Groundbreaking progress and political challenges for SDG localization after LDA-SI grant program

Written by TReNDS Staff

In 2018 and early 2019, SDSN’s Local Data Action Solutions Initiative (LDA-SI) supported organizations around the world in localizing the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework to their regions. The participants used microgrants awarded by SDSN to align existing sustainability plans and local monitoring with the SDGs’ targets and indicators, and vice versa.

Since the conclusion of the grant period, some participants have seen their work take on new heights and dovetail with other efforts to localize the SDGs, while other participants have been challenged by difficult political climates and other factors. Read on for updates from the grantees. 

In Aruba, the Aruba Data Index (featuring TEEB localized indicators) has been approved by the Department of Nature and Environment and is in the process of being incorporated within the National Strategic Plan 2022 (NSP). The National Strategic Plan is being developed by the Department of Economic Affairs, with the indicators being incorporated through expert working groups and with support from the Aruba National SDG indicators working group (guided by the Central Bureau of Statistics). Additionally, the Aruba Online Dashboard – which is being managed by the Department of Nature and Environment – is in its last stage of development and will be embedded in that department’s website.

In Brazil, the LDA-SI program lead reports that the national political stage has challenged progress in further sponsorship for the localization program, and resulted in most NGOs are struggling to find resources to continue their own work. Thankfully, conversations to expand this work to other regions besides Belo Horizonte have continued, though nothing is confirmed yet. In the future, the program plans to engage with local hubs that are furthering research and solutions in sustainable development, notably through the SDG Center in Bogotá, Colombia.

The past year and a half of Red de Ciudades Comó Vamos’s work in Colombia is culminating in an event slated for October 2019, overviewing the network’s efforts and launching its dashboard. Additionally, the network’s programs across the country are currently undertaking a strong push advocating for the SDGs to be included in their cities or municipalities four-year development plans. These will be put together from October through February and approved by May 2020.

In England, the Bristol team’s has seen massive success, contributing significantly to the city’s July 2019 Voluntary Local Review – the UK’s very first. It includes analysis of over 140 indicators. You can read much more about their efforts here and via the University of Bristol.

In India, the grant provided to the Community Systems Foundation (CSF) gave that team the opportunity to engage in dialogue with the city of Patiala on the localization of SDGs and, in the words of the project team, was “a huge learning opportunity.” They have seen interest from other countries and states of India in this type of work, though CSF has not yet engaged in a new project leveraging the learnings of Patiala.

In the USA, the City of Los Angeles joined Bristol, England in producing a Voluntary Local Report in July 2019. It also has launched a Data Reporting Platform, built with the open source code forked from the USG platform with assistance from Center for Open Data Enterprise, which has so far reported data on over 41 indicators. This represents coverage of 52% of the 78 indicators in the city’s top 5 priority goals (5,8,11,13, and 16). According to the Center for Open Data Enterprise, this makes Los Angeles the first city/local government to use the open-sdg code to report SDG data at the indicator level.

The Aruba, Brazil, and India teams also presented on their work to the SDSN Sahel network in Dakar, Senegal in April 2019. Jeeveeta S. Agnihotri of CSF writes of the experience, “When we presented this approach in Dakar, it generated huge interest from [the network], as this was seen as a great way to initiate SDG-related discussions from the lowest geographical level, hence strengthening the bottom to top approach.”

For more on the work of the Local Data Action Solutions Initiative, visit