Liz Hatherley
May 7, 2021
Reading time:
4 min

2015 saw 193 countries across the globe sign up to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs – ambitious but essential targets for achieving a fair, clean and healthy world by 2030.

But as a global community, how well are we doing towards hitting these goals?

Here are three of our favourite high-impact data visualisations revealing just that. 

1. The story of our SDG progress – so far

The World Bank

If you only click on one link on this page, make it this one. The 2020 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals is a beautiful scrollytelling experience that will take you on a journey showing the progress that has been made towards achieving the UN’s SDGs.

Drawing from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, each page is a true bonanza of charts and maps, carefully intertwined with smooth animation and short, snappy text.



Data visualisation is perhaps the best way to show how much progress has been made towards any goal, be it combating climate change or reaching business targets. Scrollable stories are universally accessible, while also allowing readers to pause and explore the data at their own pace.

2. How science unlocks progress towards SDGs

Elsevier SDGs dataviz progress science impactElsevier

Elsevier, one of the biggest brands in the scientific world, has released this impressively complex and important report highlighting the role of research in helping us meet SDGs.

Each page is full of insight into the world of science and details how research can help bridge the gap between academia, policy and society, all of it presented in simple and beautiful dataviz.


Elsevier’s paper shows that a
carefully-crafted report with clear, concise data visualisation is incredibly efficient at communicating information. Numbers talk and visualisations talk even more effectively, and the Elsevier report is a great example of that.

3. The ultimate accessible format for SDG dataviz

Our World in Data dataviz data SDGs goals mapsOur World in Data

Our World in Data is an open source repository of some of the world’s most important data on huge global issues. 

Their SDG Tracker contains impressively granular yet highly accessible map-based visualisations of the latest data for all the 232 SDG Indicators – the metrics that are used to assess progress towards each of the 17 Goals. Each one is presented with a short narrative. 



The SDG Tracker is entirely open access – so all data can be downloaded and used far and wide by academics, press and all organisations working towards hitting the Goals.

But it’s also a great way for anyone who’s ever seen a map – so, everyone – to quickly explore and understand the global status on these critical issues.