Transforming Policy Approaches & Strengthening Partnerships: Highlights from Our 2022 Annual Report

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The last three years of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in profound and unprecedented socioeconomic effects globally. The inequalities that were revealed during the pandemic require concerted efforts to be effectively tackled and bearing this in mind, in 2022, PLJ responded by supporting the government build back better by employing our capabilities in data innovation and digital transformation through various collaborations in health and encouraging the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Through all our activities, our intent is to extend learning beyond a project cycle and to understand the impact of our work we reflected on our results framework, which identifies three main impact spaces: methodological impact, systemic impact, and operational impact. While these remain the core pillars for how we evaluate our work, our 2022 annual report took a slightly different approach to how we shared our contributions to change by taking audiences on a reflective journey and illustrating the ways our work resulted in impacts that shape a more inclusive future. We specifically looked at how our work contributes to transformative approaches to policy making and strategic partnerships.

Illustration by Swastika Exodian

Transforming approaches to policy making

Through new and existing partnerships with counterparts, PLJ applied its growing capabilities for data innovation, strategic foresight, behavioral science and results to effect changes in the Indonesian policy making sphere. Driven by the UN Secretary-General’s ‘Common Agenda’, our application of this ‘Quintet of Change’ contributes to the UN 2.0 transformation to offer more relevant and systems-wide solutions that address the challenges of our modern world. Some of the more tangible impacts of the Lab’s work are most evident in our contributions to transforming policy making approaches in three areas: systematic approaches to data analytics, anticipatory/futures-thinking, and tailored design and service delivery.

Illustration by Swastika Exodian

Systematic approaches to data analytics

With so much data readily available at our fingertips, it is more important than ever to understand how to make better use of it. Employing our knowledge on data analysis and innovation, we introduced our counterparts to new methodologies that enhanced their data systems and illustrated how they can engage in the art of the possible. PLJ collaborated with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF to assess the implementation of the Ministry’s nutrition information system, the e-PPGBM. We produced insights to help improve the functionalities of the service and the user experience to support policy makers develop better interventions. We also supported the Ministry of Health’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO) in building their knowledge and capacity on mixed-methods and jointly conducted a research dive highlighting the ways the DTO can effectively use data analytics to create system-wide impact. Significantly, several of the findings from the partnership have already influenced DTO’s operations, particularly on data governance and sharing protocols.

Furthermore, we introduced our mixed-methods approach in a collaboration with the Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas) to develop MEDIAN, an information data analytics dashboard to inform policy making. This approach showed them the ‘art of the possible’ and altered the way they conduct research, work with data, and manage their information. Bappenas has accommodated the learnings from the partnership by allocating resources to hire a data scientist and programmer to support better data analytics processes.

Tailored policy design

When designing policies and interventions, it is critical that the process is inclusive to generate effective solutions that address the actual needs of intended beneficiaries. The Lab leveraged its capabilities in data innovation and behavioral science by teaming up with UN Women Indonesia to conduct a joint study on Breaking Growth Barriers for Women Impact Entrepreneurs to better understand the interrelatedness of systemic barriers that act as impediments to the growth of women-led businesses. Our approach has influenced our partners and other ecosystem enablers, including government agencies, to broaden their perspective when assessing and designing programs to support women entrepreneurs.

Anticipatory policy making

The context of our current world challenges and rate of change are complex and with so much uncertainty, there is a need to adopt anticipatory measures that allow actors to imagine different potential scenarios in a structured way. PLJ looked at how Strategic Foresight can be applied to better understand the futures of the MSME sector. With technical support from our team in Finland, we introduced Strategic Foresight to Bappenas to help them gain a deeper understanding of the drivers and signals of change that could impact the futures of MSMEs. As a result of this collaboration, Bappenas has considered adopting the foresight and horizon scanning methodology to complement their ongoing national long-term development planning (RPJPN) process, which will embed the concept of anticipatory and futures-thinking in the government agenda.

Strategic Partnerships for Inclusive Development

Illustration by Swastika Exodian

Much of the Lab’s work would not be possible without the support of our strategic partners, and in the last few years, our role has evolved from a ‘big data innovation lab’ to an ‘analytical partnership accelerator’. Recognizing this important shift, we sought to strengthen our partnerships for inclusive development and acknowledged the importance of investing in partner capabilities to generate better impact. This is evidenced by our collaborations bolstering the internal UN ecosystem, as well as further afield in our contributions to regional and global discourse through knowledge sharing initiatives.

Strengthening the UN Ecosystem

As the UN family endeavors to become more agile and effective, there is a need to scale our capabilities for more cohesive actions. The Lab provided advisory support to the UN Country Team in Indonesia to gain a better overview of the UN members’ work on data to promote coherent and collaborative approaches focusing on the use case of data on persons with disabilities. This collaboration translated into a new partnership to Leave No One Behind (LNOB), which is still ongoing and observes two streams of disability data: data on disability and data for disability. At the request of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office (RCO) the previous year, PLJ also developed a UN Perception Survey to understand how the UN in Indonesia is viewed by our counterparts and the public. The findings were adopted to inform the new Communication Strategy for the UN in Indonesia and will serve to strengthen the inter-agency collaboration for more effective messaging in the future.

Contributing to Global and Regional Discourse

PLJ collaborated with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) on the ongoing Global South AI4COVID Program to support multidisciplinary research focused on evidence-based artificial intelligence (AI) and data science approaches to aid COVID-19 response and recovery. We leverage our capabilities on data, analysis and communication to aid the project’s eight research grantees spread across the Global South in Asia, Africa and South America, ensuring timely flow of knowledge and expertise and developing a data visualization tool to provide a better understanding of the research partners engage in. ​​The rapid digitization of services during the pandemic has emphasized its importance as a driver of economic growth, but also requires new ways of working to ensure growth is accessible and inclusive to all. This was an important component of the 2022 G20 Summit where Indonesia held the presidency. Members of our team were invited to share PLJ’s experiences and insights at various events throughout the year including the Digital Economy Working Group G20, Women 20 (W20) and Youth 20 (Y20), where we shared our wealth of knowledge and experiences on undertaking inclusive digital transformation, support on women’s economic empowerment, and digital governance related to digital finance.

Expanding Our Horizons

Since its inception in 2012, PLJ has had a steadily growing presence not only in Indonesia but also the Asia Pacific region. Alongside the ever-changing nature of the development context, the Lab has progressed to a natural evolution point which brings us to the next phase of our journey: a transformation into a regional hub. This transformation was further cemented when one of the concrete actions cited in the 2022 G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration included the establishment of the United Nations Global Pulse Asia Pacific facility.

Photo: Side Event of The 3rd Development Working Group Meeting G20

The scaling-up of PLJ into this regional hub enables us to widen our scale of impact by shifting the focus from the country level to a more regional role that supports sharing information, knowledge management, building linkages and capacity building. We are eager to continue building upon the partnerships, innovations and experiences we have cultivated in Indonesia and we are equally as eager to continue expanding our support to strengthen other countries within the Asia Pacific region.

To read our full report visit our website: https://pulselabjakarta.org/ourwork/annual-report-2022

Author: Andini Kamayana (Communication Manager)

Pulse Lab Jakarta is grateful for the generous support from the Government of Australia

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UN Global Pulse Asia Pacific
United Nations Global Pulse Asia Pacific

UN Global Pulse Asia Pacific is a regional hub that aims to drive data innovation and sustainable development to ensure that no one is left behind.