Visualizing Marathon: New York Challenge

How Might We Grow?

Twenty years ago, 178 nations came together in Rio at the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (or “Earth Summit”) to discuss the connection between economic growth, the environment, and social equity. Taken together, these are the three pillars of what is known as “sustainable development.” The Earth Summit resulted in three landmark international conventions – on climate change, desertification and biodiversity – that have helped shape global policy on these issues ever since.

Next year, the world will reconvene at Rio+20 to assess how far we have come – or not come – in the past twenty years in advancing sustainable development. Over the next 24 hours, you will have the opportunity to impact this discussion.

The experts from the UN Secretary-General’s Global Pulse initiative, and his High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, have assembled a unique data set to drive your thinking. Pulled from a variety of sources, the data presents development along the three pillars of sustainability: the economic, the social, and the environmental. You will find various individual signposts of a country’s progress, from access to clean water to primary school completion to forestation. The challenge is to use these indicators to illuminate the inter-linkages that are at the heart of sustainable development.

Using a range of economic, social, and environmental data, your challenge is to help policymakers and the public rethink how the economy, the environment and social equity impact growth and development. There is a lot of data here so we don’t advise trying to represent everything. Instead, find a story in the data that will help to advance the discussion and that demonstrates the need for sustainable forms of development.


Primary data set: UN Global Pulse Sustainable Development Indicators

Additional data set: Human Development Report 2011
The UNDP’s just-published Human Development Report 2011 offers sophisticated indices of inequality as well as additional sustainability indicators.


The winning visualization: Urban Leaks by Aikaterini Petrou, Yu Tsuji, Mengyi Fan, Marc Moukarzel and Jared Culp.

Read the recap to see the Honorable Mentions and see all of the entries.

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