visualizing change: IDB Group and sustainable development goals
“Join with good people and you will be one of them.” -Venezuelan proverb
Show Your Work
If you do something that makes the lives of thousands- or even millions- better, and no one notices, did it really happen? Of course, it did- but if you can’t show positive change, it never becomes any easier to get the kind of cooperation, support, and funding needed to implement life-improving policy. The Inter-American Development Bank finances a hugely diverse portfolio of civil development projects across Central and South America and the Caribbean. With a focus on government-intersector public works, IDB generally pursues a strategy of “regional integration,” fuelling projects likely to provide broad benefits and spur cooperation in neighboring states. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are a series of 17 categories of civil development conceptualized by the United Nations as part of its “2030 Agenda.” Ranging from poverty to gender equality to climate change, the SDG is an attempt to capture the full range of issues essential to promoting healthy and just nations and a global community. The SDG goals are central to IDB’s mission and operations. We had the privilege of partnering with them to create an experience that will showcase the results of its many and varied projects across Latin America through the lens of advancing all 17 of the SDGs stated areas. The IDB is the single largest source of development financing in the region, consist of a multilateral board of 48 member-states with a total of close to $130B US in subscribed capital- and distribute their credit across thousands of individual projects every year.
Data As Storytelling
A data visualization effort to translate this amount of information into meaningful and inspiring reporting of results required a very particular focus: to use the data to tell a compelling story that ultimately included all of IDB’s efforts. It was our great pleasure to collaborate with IDB in this vital storytelling effort: to illustrate to stakeholders and the broader public that every IDB investment begins and ends with a story about real people, real lives, and tangible outcomes. As always, for us, this kind of collaboration begins with an Action Lab. With the ambitious goal of ultimately capturing ALL of IDB’s results along the SDG categories, all while telling human stories, our labs brought together the team’s best ideas for how best to organize, visualize, translate, and include the data behind every success story. We ultimately developed a visualization hierarchy from the most “zoomed out” indicators of overall progress within SDGs to, further in, the precise count of projects within an individual region and specific, iconic stories of project outcomes, complete with imagery of the people and communities involved. This framework- beginning at the bird’s-eye view of all of IDB’s results, organizing into SDGs, and drilling down into the regional and personal stories reflected in each one- informed the process of our 3-part Action Lab as well: we distilled team “wish lists” and must-haves of data readability, transparency, and comprehensiveness into feasible design challenges. We also explored various ways of presenting the same data sets- not simply selecting one “ideal” visualization in the form of a chart or graph, but allowing the data’s story to unfold through multiple representations cross-referenced with the relevant SDGs.
The Story Continues
IDB regularly reviews and reports on the progress of all its contributions- together, we’ve created a framework for ongoing presentations of their emergent stories through the lens of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Our design for IDB’s Corporate Results Framework site allows for new stories and imagery to be regularly introduced, allowing every narrative behind the data to be seen and heard. Do you have a success- or a vision- to share with the world? We want to help bring it to life. Contact us, and let’s begin telling your story.