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World Bank releases detailed visual guide to global progress on Sustainable Development Goals

Image: Screenshot from interactive SDG dashboard

The World Bank has released the 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It tracks global progress towards the 17 SDGs and the associated 169 targets, through more than 150 maps and data visualisations.

The Atlas is based on a database of over 1400 World Development Indicators (WDI), for more than 220 economies, derived from the work of national and international statistical agencies around the world. Many of the indicators go back over 50 years.

The data can be accessed through: 1) The World Bank’s main multilingual data website, data.worldbank.org; 2) Interactive dashboard at data.worldbank.org/sdgs; 3) Bulk download files of the WDI dataset in CSV and XLS formats, direct access via API and via third party API wrappers for popular languages including Python, STATA and R; 4) the DataBank query tool which allows users to create, save, and share tables, charts and maps, and embed them on webpages: databank.worldbank.org; 5) Statistical tables and metadata for countries, geographic regions and income groups presented by WDI section at wdi.worldbank.org/tables

A complete list of tools to access the data is available at data.worldbank.org/products/wdi. As part of the World Bank’s Open Data Initiative, all the data is available completely free of charge. Interested users can submit questions about World Bank data at datahelpdesk.worldbank.org/.

Cross country comparisons

The Atlas enables easy, visual cross country comparisons on available data. However, sometimes inconsistencies in definitions and methods can hinder meaningful comparisons.

The report highlights the use of the terms “urban” and “rural” as an example. Around 100 countries use some form of minimum population threshold to define a settlement as “urban.” But these thresholds range from 200 people to 50,000.

It goes on to highlight technological advances in the form of higher frequency and resolution satellite data, which could help in standardising how urbanisation is defined and measure globally.

The German space agency DLR’s Global Urban Footprint, a map of built-up areas derived from radar data and the European Space Agency’s Urban Thematic Exploitation Program, which allows nontechnical users to customise results through supercomputing power and tools are mentioned.

Current data on Internet access

Information and communications technology (ICT) appears under targets in four of the SDGs: Goal 4- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all (4b), Goal 5- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (5b), Goal 9- Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation (9c) and Goal 17- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development (17.8).

Expanding access to the Internet is a basic requirement for realising the potential of digital transformation and enabling everyone to benefit from it.The proportion of the global population using the Internet stood at 44%. North America and Europe and Central Asia had the highest rate of users, of fixed broadband subscriptions and of secure Internet servers.

It is recognised under target 17.8 that enabling the use of ICT in the poorer countries of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa will bolster capacity building in science, innovation, and technology. Target 17.8 (‘Fully operationalize the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017 and enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology’) aims to increase access for people in the 48 Least Developed Countries, where on average, less than 13% of people have access to the Internet.

Image: World Bank report- Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2017 : From World Development Indicators

Technology can help women to overcome mobility constraints, access relevant information and new communication channels, and participate in existing networks. However, current data shows that there continue to be differences between men and women in terms of access to basic technology in most parts of the world and women are less likely to be Internet users, regardless of their region or income. The report notes that only one-fifth of countries with data do not show a difference.

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