UCLG ASPAC LOCALISE SDGs Programme has seen the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic not only poses great challenges in terms of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) attainment, but also presents opportunities to build back better. This is reflected in all of its activities throughout 2020, the third year of programme implementation. LOCALISE SDGs programme recorded a set of achievements in strengthening target local governments (LGs) in Indonesia to incorporate SDGs into their policy and planning.

Training Modules Update

LOCALISE SDGs programme successfully adapt to the needs of local governments in addressing COVID-19 and localising SDGs at the same time. It has updated its training modules related to city diplomacy and SDGs localisation, which will be delivered online in 2021 to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmissions.

Virtual Events

On the second half of 2020, LOCALISE SDGs programme conducted regular biweekly webinar targeting Indonesian audience. To strengthen the capacity of local governments, LOCALISE SDGs delivered a total of 25 virtual events for sharing knowledge and disseminating good practice in addressing the pandemic that also contributed to SDGs attainment. Included were 13 biweekly Webinar Series on Building Back Better and Stronger – Transitions to the New Normal called On-line Discussion or Diskusi Daring, six match-making events and six coaching clinics. These virtual events served to further strengthen collaboration and stimulate change and innovative solutions in achieving SDGs by Local Governments, particularly in these unprecedented times.

Following the virtual events, LOCALISE SDGs coordinated needs of local governments as well as associations in Indonesia. Pangkalpinang City and Padang City, for example, and the five target Local Governments Associations (APEKSI, APKASI, APPSI, ADEKSI, ADKASI), as well as several other Indonesian local governments received mask donations from UCLG ASPAC’s members. LOCALISE SDGs also successfully facilitated the initial stage of international cooperation between Jambi City and Guangzhou City to strengthen the role of health facilities and services through teleconsultation. This programme is implemented as part of the UCLG ASPAC Women in Local Governments Committee’s activities led by Guangzhou.

Virtual events conducted, the On-line Discussion or Diskusi Daring, also triggered peer-learning among Local Governments beyond the target of LOCALISE SDGs. City of Pagaralam, for example, got the opportunity to explore and learn further from city of Bengkulu on SDGs localisation and its implementation.

Technical Assistance on Tourism Recovery

LOCALISE SDGs programme provided technical assistance to five selected Local Governments: East Kalimantan Province, South Sulawesi Province, Sawahlunto City, Gorontalo City, and Padang City, based on cities’ priorities and needs in tourism field. City of Gorontalo and South Sulawesi, for instance, received a virtual tour and digital marketing training, while City of Sawahlunto received assistance to promote their Ombilin Geopark towards UNESCO World Heritage destination.

Five Cross-Sectoral Research and Policy Recommendations

LOCALISE SDGs completed five cross-sectoral research and policy recommendations to reveal the extent of how COVID-19 affected various sectors, its impact on policies, and how Local Governments can adapt and build back better from the situation.

Finding on Research of Effective Budget Management in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Result: In general, both central and local governments should note that a proper pandemic response is a prerequisite to economic recovery, and should exercise the decentralisation of COVID-19 management as well as the integration of surveillance protocols.

Finding on Research of Tourism Economic Recovery in Indonesia amidst the COVID-19

Result: Highlighting the partnerships model and rethinking the tourism priorities and policies, result shows that the tourism sector must co-exist with other sectors, consider the welfare of its workers, and adjust their target market, success indicators and types of tourism. From the policy perspective, the research discovers that the varying policymaking levels produced different kinds of tourism recovery. Research also proposes implementation of permanent health protocols for the recovery, while emphasising the importance of a bottom-up approach in policymaking.

Finding on Research of Effective Awareness-Raising Policy of Citizens during the Pandemic

Result: Putting emphasis on the importance of Adaptations to New Habits in the New Normal or Adaptive era, the research highlighted the importance of balance between the health protocol compliance and the policy implementation which requires a more systemic approach rather than just focusing on the communication strategy to enforce health protocol.

Suggestion: Combined with the research on how Local Governments can effectively address the social impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, the research suggests the need for more informative and inclusive policies for a recovery, taking account areas that are also affected by natural disasters during the pandemic, to reduce the risk of future crisis.

Finding on Research of Quality Data Synchronisation

Result: Quality data synchronisation for effective implementation of social safety net remains an essential topic for Local Governments in Indonesia. The rapidly changing policies on data management at the ministerial level require local governments to quickly adapt, yet there is a clear gap of human resources capacity, database quality and integration. LOCALISE SDGs research findings strongly recommends human resource training for data collection to maximise the performance of the existing team, as well as bureaucracy reform.

Digital and printed publications of the research are scheduled to be accessible by the end of the first quarter of 2021.