Global Goals - An Interconnected Agenda
To succeed in reaching the Global Goals by 2030, all Goals must be achieved together. The Goals are indivisible, highly integrated and entangled in each other. To put it simply: it’s all connected.
The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) wanted to address the questions of how the Global Goals relate to each other and how we can work to reach them in the most effective way by investigating the connections and interactions between the Goals and the 169 targets. This study could make it easier for governments, organizations, businesses and citizens to understand how the targets work together and help different stakeholders prioritize their actions and contribute to reaching the Goals in the best possible way.
In 2018 the SEI approached us and asked, how do we articulate these interactions so that they can be easier to understand and engage in? Together, we decided to develop a visual language that elegantly and effectively clarifies these interactions.
During the course of 2018, we worked closely with SEI to create a visual language that can show the connections and interactions between the 169 targets. To say the least, this proved a far from straight-forward design process.
The project started with illustrating the fundamental functions of an interaction. The illustrations were then tested in different contexts to see if they could be easily read in black/ white and in color, if they worked in larger scales and what types of matrices and shapes were most suitable. We explored with squares and circles, with slices, arrows and colors before deciding upon a visual manner that could be communicated to a relatively wide target group. The outcomes were presented in a number of elaborate yet clear and attractive illustrations. In this project, only two targets per Goal were selected to make the system somewhat tangible.
The interactions in this study make up more than just a quantitative result. Knowledge of how the targets impact and interact with each other is key to understanding how we can reach them together. This project brings clarity and life to the study and makes it easier to act to reach the Goals by 2030.
The project can support the work of governments and organizations in terms of how - and in what order - to best prioritize the allocation of funds and resources. It enables businesses to find partnerships and co-operations and it makes it easier for everyone to understand how the Global Goals are integrated and indivisible.
To find a way to visualize the connections in a clear and logical way was challenging but at the same time an extremely fun collaboration, driving us to try new ways of thinking and find new solutions together with SEI. We believe that further efforts and explorations should be put into this project in terms of how the framework could be communicated. To make it easy to use and interact with, we would love to see this turned into a digital tool that could potentially be customized to fit different users and local contexts. If not by us, we still hope that such a tool will be created soon!
In the circular visualization above, each slice contains how the respective targets are INFLUENCED, while the rings in the circle displays how each target INFLUENCE the slices. The number of negative and positive interactions for each target are displayed in the bar chart in the top left, with the total SUM highlighted in the center.
For example, actions to achieve target 3.4 has a relatively small impact on other targets, influencing only four other targets +1. At the same time, achieving target 17.11 would influence a few other targets positively, but has a negative impact on the system as a whole (-9).
The matrix below works by the same logic. The horizontal rows display how the targets INFLUENCE the other targets (read from left to right), while the vertical columns display how the targets are INFLUENCED (read from top to bottom).
The illustrations below show the 7-point scale as well as two individual target interactions (Achieving target 12.5, Substantially Reduce Waste Generation, is indivisible from achieving target 15.5, Protect Biodiversity and Natural Habitats. And achieving target 7.2, Increase Global Percentage of Renewable Energy will limit the progress of achieving target 6.6, Protect and Restore Water-Related Ecosystems).
The complex nature of the framework may have made it hard to visualize it in a small and simple illustration. But at the same time it works wonderfully as an interactive and imaginative visual poster. Below are two versions of it.
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