Wolfs Company discussing Nature2SDGs at the UN SDSN workshop in Dakar, Senegal

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Tim Polaszek, from Wolfs Company, alongside representatives from METRODS, Brazil, and Open Cities Institute, India, presented case studies on the localization of data to achieve national SDG targets. On the 29th and 30th of April, 2019, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Sahel division held a workshop in Dakar, Senegal, to explore how data collection for national goals can be localised so that ‘No One is Left Behind’. Wolfs Company are among five organizations awarded grants by the UN SDSN Local Data Actions programme. They have developed a toolkit, Nature2SDGs, which aids countries with aligning their SDG strategy with local data collection initiatives. Tim presented a case on the island of Aruba, where international experts and local stakeholders were interviewed separately in order to analyse the links between ecosystem services and relevant SDG sub-targets on the island. This resulted in the uptake of natural capital indicators from a previously executed environmental study on the island to be fed into their ‘SDG-accelerator’ strategies.

Since 2016, over 100 countries have already published their Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) of progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With Senegal having already delivered, they are looking to further develop their data management strategies and make the pathway to 2030 more streamlined.

Senegal gives local authorities more power in managing their own affairs and this topic of decentralization surfaced during the conversations on data collection. How to make national goals relevant for local communities and individuals is a challenge not only in Senegal. Indicator selection and how these data are aggregated can support uptake and ownership of projects. It was stressed that the worst scenario would involve collection of data from communities without relevance or benefits for them at the local level. This top-down approach would not be acceptable for the Senegalese.

As we draw closer to 2020, SDG planning and strategization must transform into concrete action, where real development can occur. Data is essential to inform fact-based decision making. Localization of data collection initiatives is essential to ensure uptake by communities who are integral to the change that the global community requires. For more information on the SDSN initiative and the programme click here.