Measuring and evaluating SDG indicators with Big Earth Data

Elsevier, Science Bulletin, Volume 67, 15 September 2022
Guo H., Liang D., Sun Z., Chen F., Wang X., Li J. et al.

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides an important framework for economic, social, and environmental action. A comprehensive indicator system to aid in the systematic implementation and monitoring of progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is unfortunately limited in many countries due to lack of data. The availability of a growing amount of multi-source data and rapid advancements in big data methods and infrastructure provide unique opportunities to mitigate these data shortages and develop innovative methodologies for comparatively monitoring SDGs. Big Earth Data, a special class of big data with spatial attributes, holds tremendous potential to facilitate science, technology, and innovation toward implementing SDGs around the world. Several programs and initiatives in China have invested in Big Earth Data infrastructure and capabilities, and have successfully carried out case studies to demonstrate their utility in sustainability science. This paper presents implementations of Big Earth Data in evaluating SDG indicators, including the development of new algorithms, indicator expansion (for SDG 11.4.1) and indicator extension (for SDG 11.3.1), introduction of a biodiversity risk index as a more effective analysis method for SDG 15.5.1, and several new high-quality data products, such as global net ecosystem productivity, high-resolution global mountain green cover index, and endangered species richness. These innovations are used to present a comprehensive analysis of SDGs 2, 6, 11, 13, 14, and 15 from 2010 to 2020 in China utilizing Big Earth Data, concluding that all six SDGs are on schedule to be achieved by 2030.