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Challenges of mapping sustainable goals indicators data

Menno Jan Kraak, Britta Ricker and Yuri Engelhardt


Foundational text

The global population is growing at an incomprehensible rate and with it come complex environmental consequences that often result in social injustices. The United Nations has established a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in an attempt to ameliorate inequality and promise safety for the masses. To reach these goals, a set of indicators have been identified and their associated data for each country are publicly available to measure how close each country is to each goal. Multifaceted social and environmental processes that are difficult to understand are causing threats to these goals. Maps help reduce complexity. Now, arguably anyone with access to the Internet and time can make a map. However, not all maps are effective accurate communication vessels. Well-designed maps tell a story that truthfully represents the data available. Here we present a synthesis of the cartographic workflow pointing out specific considerations necessary when mapping SDG indicators. Along the way we illustrate the cartographic workflow as it relates to visualizing SDG indicators. Common mapping pitfalls are described and a range of suggestions to avoid them are also offered. Map makers have a unique opportunity to use these data to illuminate and communicate injustices that are documented therein to inspire creative localized solutions to eradicate inequality.

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