Dr. Orville Disdier

Dr. Orville Disdier, SI interim executive director, explained that the portal will measure Puerto Rico's status towards achieving the UN's 2030 goals. >Josian E. Bruno Gómez

The Puerto Rico Statistics Institute (SI) and the United Nations Association of the United States of America, Puerto Rico Chapter (UNA-US Puerto Rico), announced an alliance to create a digital portal that includes all available information regarding the island’s progress toward achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN).

The website contains information about the UN 2030 Agenda, which represents a framework of global action with specific, measurable goals to improve the quality of life for all individuals.

The portal primarily seeks to provide the greatest amount of data to measure Puerto Rico’s development in each respective area and to generate affirmative action in order to accomplish these goals by the established year.

“The collaboration that we are doing with UNA-USA Puerto Rico is to share efforts and resources to set the SDGs in motion; to look at these goals with a vision toward 2030,” Dr. Orville M. Disdier, interim executive director of the SI, stated.

In Sept. 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 SDGs with a total of 169 targets or indicators with the goal to create a fully inclusive space where all peoples can enjoy peace and prosperity, as well as to protect the planet’s ecosystems.

These SDGs are no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation, and infrastructure; reduced inequality; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; life below water, as in, protecting marine life; life on land (safeguarding terrestrial ecosystems); peace, justice, and strong institutions; and partnerships to achieve the goal.

The latter refers to the importance of revitalizing global partnerships in order to strengthen the means of implementing measures to achieve the SDGs. On this, Ana G. Jara, project manager for the SI, stressed that the institute’s efforts rely on partnerships with organizations and agencies to provide data so that the institute can include the highest possible number of indicators in its portal.

“Part of the effort that we are performing are alliances and the most important aspect and our primary focus are indicators; to have the greatest number of indicators for Puerto Rico and for us to compare ourselves with other jurisdictions and the other indicators worldwide,” Jara said.

On the website’s menu there is a link to the partners involved in compiling the information, which currently include the SI, the P.R. Department of Education, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. National Park Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health, the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association, the Puerto Rico Psychology Association, the Puerto Rico Bar Association, University of the Sacred Heart (Sagrado Corazón), and the University of Puerto Rico.

“It is very important to maintain partnerships with those organizations because the thing we need the most is data. We (the SI) are a secondary source; we are the ones who provide access to that data, but we need them from other agencies or from investigations of other agencies... They are the ones who will help us achieve the greatest number of indicators,” Jara added.

THE WEEKLY JOURNAL asked if it is feasible for Puerto Rico to accomplish the SDGs by 2030, considering the island’s socioeconomic and political climates, as well as the infrastructural challenges.

To this, Disdier affirmed that the portal aims to set forth discussions and actions to improve Puerto Rico’s standing.

“Undoubtedly. All countries face major challenges and Puerto Rico is not the exception. That is why we aim... for public policy on how we can achieve this. But the important thing is to include the SDGs in the framework because that will allow us to have a clear north,” the SI official said.

He added, “it would be ideal for Puerto Rico to have a vision toward the future and to know what it hopes to accomplish by 2030 in each of the SDGs. Therefore, for governments to be facilitators in that process or in that vision of the future instead of losing focus and not paying attention to that highly important framework.”

Moreover, Disdier acknowledged that the SI’s greatest obstacles are scarce economic and human resources. According to the interim executive director, the SI has held talks with the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) so that this fiscal entity can redistribute the budget in order for the SI to be able to retain its staff.

“In order to achieve all this, we need... enough resources to set the process in motion and for those collaborations to begin to move the wheel. The institute is doing that, and we will continue to do so, and we will go on with the project until accomplishing the necessary goals,” he said.

Disdier stressed that the SDGs will entail “additional but necessary” tasks that will require collaboration from the public and private sectors, as well as from residents.

“With the collaboration of the people and with us, along with other entities... it will be possible to do that. So, it is a commitment. We are introducing a product that is not final, that is in process and that is tied to a commitment. We want every one of you... to help us do it,” Disdier stated.

The portal includes a section called ‘Exemplary Projects,’ whose purpose is to highlight those organizations or individuals who are working directly or indirectly toward achieving SDGs in Puerto Rico.

One of these projects is related to the SDG for quality education, created by a special education teacher, Bryan M. Rivera Medina. The goal of this project, called ‘Reading Faces,’ is to ensure that students have an emotional education for socio-emotional bonding and to ensure access to functional and academic skills; this, by means of artificial intelligence (AI).

To learn more about this and other projects and the program’s goals, visit www.ods.estadisticas.pr.


Editor's note: This story was published on the October 9 print edition of The Weekly Journal. A shorter version of this story was published on October 2 on www.theweeklyjournal.com

Reporter for The Weekly Journal. She is a journalist with experience in social media management and digital marketing. Giovanna is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Digital Narratives at Sacred Heart University in San Juan.

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