SDSN Malaysia Launches SDG Monitor: Malaysia’s first state-level SDG Dashboard

On May 26th, 2022, SDSN Malaysia convened a virtual meeting to launch its state-level SDG Dashboard, called SDG Monitor, bringing together expert contributors from seven SDSN Malaysia member institutions.

Hosted on the Esri ArcGIS platform, SDSN Malaysia’s SDG Monitor is a state-level dashboard for SDG performance. The platform’s interactive maps utilizes data from the Malaysian Department of Statistics.  

This launch enables the Malaysian public, students, academics and policymakers to access localized SDG performance. Supplementing the existing data are over 40 expert commentary write-ups on goal level assessments for the country. References in academic and multimedia format are provided to spur in-depth learning on SDG issues.

Led by Danesh Prakash Chacko of the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development at Sunway University, the SDG Monitor utilizes the same methodology as SDSN’s global Sustainable Development Report. Formulation of the Monitor was possible with guidance from the SDSN SDG Index team in Paris. A total of 26 expert commentators from the following institutions contributed to the selection of indicators: Sunway University, Monash University Malaysia, Universiti Malaya, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and the Penang Institute.

The SDG Monitor serves the following purposes:

  • Public engagement to understand the SDGs
  • To know which states are performing well or poorly for overall and specific SDGs
  • To lay the basis for more policy briefs and working papers
  • To lay the foundations of an ASEAN-level SDG Dashboard
  • For educators and learners to engage with the SDGs at a local level

 SDSN Malaysia Network Manager, Kong Phui Yi welcomed the participants and gave the floor to Prakash who conducted a tutorial on the Monitor’s layout, navigation and contents. This included providing an overview of the methodology and the hybrid approach to its data collection process. One of the major challenges highlighted was finding local thresholds based on government document aspirations. Currently, the threshold used for the Malaysian states is the global benchmark.

“We want this website to be a launchpad for researchers and academics to study the gaps and progress on the SDGs at the state-level and to launch their next research.” – Danesh Prakash Chacko, SDG Monitor Project Lead.

Danesh Prakash Chacko walking through the state-level SDG Monitor.

During the Q&A session, participants enquired about how often the data would be updated, whether there are any plans to develop a local benchmark and the purpose of story maps. More than one participant suggested making this an interactive and open-sourced dashboard where members of the public can also contribute.

The SDG Monitor team is currently working on a second round of updates to add more commentary with one of the long-term goals being to develop state-level thresholds for the relevant SDG indicators. The team is also interested in documenting and featuring on the website, how people are using this tool. Viewers interested in learning about the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on selected SDG indicators on the state-level in Malaysia can explore the dashboard online.

SDSN Malaysia has plans to conduct an iteration of this SDG Monitor presentation for interested SDSN members in the Asia-Pacific region in the future.

“I hope that everyone understands that we really want this (dashboard) to be used and help to inform research gaps and opportunities. Please reach out to us to get linked to people in other disciplines because we know that impactful research cannot be done without a multidisciplinary team.” – Kong Phui Yi, SDSN Malaysia Network Manager.