World Bank’s SDG Atlas Illustrates Trends in World Development Indicators
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The World Bank’s ‘Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2018’ presents data on the SDGs and targets by country, region and income classification.

The Atlas features over 180 graphics, showing trends since as early as the 1960s.

The graphics and findings draw on publicly available data, including over 1,400 World Development Indicators, and are intended to be reproducible.

24 May 2018: The World Bank has released the ‘Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2018,’ illustrating progress towards the SDGs in over 180 maps, charts and annotated data visualizations. It presents data by country, region and income classification. The Atlas confirms that there is progress to be made everywhere, not just in low-income countries.

The Atlas uses over 1,400 World Development Indicators, which include data from up to 50 years ago. The Atlas also leverages new and developing data, especially as the UN’s global SDG indicator framework continues to be refined.

Data discussions often highlight the need to move beyond national averages to identify groups “left behind.” The Atlas features local and disaggregated data, showing, for example, sub-national data on air quality in China. Where possible, it shows city-level variations in pollutants to paint a more detailed picture of progress towards SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG target 11.6 on air quality in cities.

The publication looks at each of the 17 SDGs to identify trends on progress to date and where efforts need to be focused. Much of the data analyzed is from before 2015, and the Atlas’s graphics show trends from as early as the 1960s. While the publication distills and visualizes economic, social and environmental progress mapped to the SDGs, targets and indicators, it is not necessarily intended to measure the extent to which each target has been achieved, the authors note; it is not a scorecard. In some cases, time series data shows historical trends, whereas in others, a more static picture is presented to reveal gaps and outstanding needs.

For example, in examining progress towards ending malnutrition (SDG target 2.2), the Atlas first visualizes data from 1990 to 2016 on overall numbers of stunted children under age five, divided by region. It then presents the types of malnutrition (stunting, wasting, overweight) and rates for each in children under age five using 2016 data, by region and income classification. The Atlas follows by highlighting – on a country-by-country basis – the differences in child stunting rates between rich and poor households within countries, using 2014-2016 data (Guatemala shows the highest difference). It does the same for discrepancies in stunting rates by gender, using 2012-2015 data, finding that boys are almost always stunted at higher rates than girls (Timor-Leste has the starkest contrast). The Atlas also summarizes the prevalence of wasting in a graphic that illustrates data by severity, gender and country, grouped by income classification.

The visualizations are produced using publicly available data from the World Bank’s Open Data platform. The findings are intended to be reproducible. The learnings gleaned from such internationally comparable statistics show where actions may need to be strengthened on the road to 2030, and can inform countries’ development priorities. [Publication: Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2018: From World Development Indicators] [World Bank Data Blog Article [World Development Indicators]

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