The Global Goals

In 2015, Jakob Trollbäck and Christina Rüegg-Grässli created the communication language for the Sustainable Development Goals. Today, their simple words and colorful symbols are used wherever sustainability is discussed. The pro-bono project for the UN inspired Trollbäck to start The New Division, a strategic communication agency 100% focused on sustainability.

The first project we tackled was extending the language to include the driving forces of the agenda—the 169 targets. Read the whole story below!

Project type
Design + Activation

Process & Strategy

To make sure that the work would be well anchored and widely used, we initiated conversations with the United Nations and Project Everyone who secured funding and hired us to develop an extended system for all 169 targets.

We studied all the 169 targets in-depth in order to capture the essence of each target in a short, understandable headline. Then came a lengthy process where we discussed the best way to capture each target in a powerful visual symbol. We used the bright colors and bold typography from the parent goal, thereby creating families that are easily associated with the main goal. The symbols express the determination and optimism at the core of the goals.

Lastly we initiated a unique collaboration with organizations around the world to fact-check the work and to secure a universal understanding of the language. We wanted it to be easy for everyone, including governments, companies, organizations, academia and civil society to better understand the targets in order to synchronize the work for long-term integrated solutions.

Our work is a substantial contribution to enhance global partnership for the goals. We have created a common language which visually tells the story of the Global Goals and how we can work together to realize these goals by 2030.

Our hope is to achieve a global movement, where people in different ages and roles, truly care about the future of our planet and understand which steps are needed in order to reach the goals. A decentralized, global and powerful effort is the only way forward in the right direction, and make it possible to reach the goals by 2030.

The Global Goals website

Once the work was finalized, it was launched on, created by our digital partner Code and Conspire. A website that is fast and accessible in every possible scenario, even offline, for a global audience, and it’s all open source.

The 17, backstory

The story of the Global Goals begins in the fall of 2014 with director Richard Curtis meeting with our founder Jakob Trollbäck to discuss how to best make the agenda famous.

Invaluable insights from UN ambassadors and NGOs along the journey pushed us to develop icons that could be universally understood. The designs and palette carefully consider cross-cultural relevance and symbolism. The circular logotype for the master brand is an expression of unity using the full palette from the icon system.

The result is a communication system, signed-off by all 193 member nations. It is today universally adopted and used - a hopeful language of change to inspire everyone, everywhere to act.

"Creating the beautiful icons for the Sustainable Development Goals was a simple idea that has delivered enormous impact. Without the icons and Trollbäck’s tremendous work on visually telling the story of the Sustainable Development Goals, we simply would not be where we are today."

Cathy Calvin
President and CEO of the UNF

"The genius of the work that Trollbäck did was to create for the Sustainable Development Goals a visual language which communicates with the greatest simplicity the plan for the planet. The beauty of the design belies the brilliance of the intelligence behind every choice of favellas, catwalks to conference rooms."

Corinne Woods
Director of Communications at World Food Programme

Ambassadors + UN building + Icons to outcomes

In partnership with Project Everyone and Numbers in Action, we evolved the language of the Global Goals system for print and motion. The infographics visualize projected outcomes for the Goals through 2030, communicating our progress towards eradicating poverty, reversing climate change, and achieving gender equality.

Our branding has been adapted for installations, events, conferences and social media around the world since the Fall 2015 launch. Nearly every event designed to propagate the message uses our design system in some capacity. Content has included Fifty Nine Productions’ building projections at the UN building; print and motion for the project Icons to Outcomes, as well as famous celebrities lending their support, voice, and image to their favorite causes.

Let's talk

Hannah Boman
Co-founder & Head of Operations
+46 733 88 99 15