Leveraging Geospatial Data for the 2030 Agenda

The data needs for the 2030 Agenda are great. Geospatial data provide insights for decision-making. And it presents an opportunity to represent the world and its challenges. The rapid pace of geospatial technology advancements, such as increased automation, the internet of things, big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, improves our knowledge of those challenges.

To achieve the SDGs, we need to understand each Goal and monitor progress toward reaching it.

Geospatial data and visualization through well-designed maps and diagrams can support this process by effectively illustrating where we are in achieving the SDGs and providing a global overview.

The United Nations Geospatial Team has created maps on each of the 17 Goals, showcasing the use of reliable data for understanding global and regional trends.

They have published several maps each week on the UN Geospatial website, including the below on SDG 4: Quality Education  and SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.


The project is a collaboration of geospatial professionals in the Office of Information and Communications Technology in New York, the Global Service Centre in Brindisi, and field missions.

Challenges include:

  • limitations in data availability, spatial, and time coverage

  • format, data availability, and constraints of mapping software

  • the complexity of data analysis

“Sometimes the available indicators only show tangentially current socio-economic trends or are older than we would like them to be, so we have to find alternate data sources while ensuring it comes from reputable sources,” said Kyoung-Soo Eom, Chief, Geospatial Information Section, Operations Support Division, OICT. “This year, for example, in addition to the SDG indicators database, we used data from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics and from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, which was recently secured as a common good by the Complex Risk Analytics Fund.”

Mapping the SDGs is a continuation of the work started by the UN and the International Cartographic Association with the joint publication of Mapping for a Sustainable World in 2020.