25 November 2020
World Bank Illustrates SDG Data Trends with Interactive Atlas
Image credit World Bank
story highlights

The third edition of the World Bank's SDG Atlas uses interactive graphics and storytelling to illustrate trends in the 17 SDGs and selected targets.

The Atlas draws from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators database and other data sources from scientists and researchers worldwide.

The World Bank has released the 2020 edition of its SDG Atlas. This resource uses interactive storytelling and innovative data visualizations to expand understanding about indicators and trends for the 17 SDGs and selected targets. The Atlas introduces concepts to inform readers about how some of the SDGs are measured, and where data are available, it highlights information on the emerging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the indicators and trends.

A short overview of indicators, data and stories included in the Atlas is as follows:

In the chapter on SDG 1 (no poverty), a series of charts and graphs reviews progress and challenges in addressing extreme poverty. The Atlas concludes that, if poverty reduction trends remain unchanged, “some countries will take decades to eliminate extreme poverty” and, for “countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where poverty is declining, the median year in which extreme poverty might be eliminated is 2040.” 

On SDG 2 (zero hunger), it indicates that, “after declining for a decade, the undernourished population is now rising. In 2019, more than 690 million people experienced hunger – an increase of nearly 60 million in 5 years.”

On SDG 3 (good health), in a discussion on Universal Health Coverage, the Atlas indicates that, according to estimates for 2015 (the most recent available), “90 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty (that is, below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day) because of spending on health.” 

On SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), the Atlas includes photos from Gapminder’s Dollar Street project to illustrate the handwashing facilities at different household income levels in different countries. The Atlas also indicates that, in 2017, “about half of countries lacked data on access to safely managed water services and nearly 60 percent lacked data on access to safely managed sanitation services.” 

On SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), the Atlas features nighttime satellite imagery to show artificial sources of light around the Earth and offers the user the ability to compare different locations with similar population densities, often illustrating striking inequality in access to electricity. Despite these dramatic inequalities, the Atlas highlights progress on this Goal, noting that “in 2018, 90 percent of the world’s population had access to electricity, up from 82 percent in 2008, and 63 percent had access to clean fuels and technology for cooking, up from 55 percent.”

On SDG 14 (life below water), for SDG indicator 14.5 (By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information), the Atlas notes that more than 16,000 marine protected areas have been established, covering 7.4 percent of the world’s ocean. An accompanying map identifies the distribution of these marine protected areas globally in 2020. 

Where data are available, the Atlas highlights the emerging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SDG. For example, on SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), the chapter includes a map of “stringency measures” around the world and a comparison of public spending on the economic crisis by rich countries and poor countries.

The Atlas draws from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators database and other data sources from scientists and researchers worldwide. It was released on 16 November 2020.

The 2018 edition of the World Bank SDG Atlas used over 1,400 World Development Indicators and data from up to 50 years ago. [Publication: Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020] [World Bank Data Blog post about Atlas

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