Live social network mapping: an overview of the SDG ecosystem at the 2019 Global Festival of Action

During the last edition of the Festival, more than 200 participants interacted with our tool for mapping and visualizing social networks and connections in real time. A first analysis showed interesting insights regarding the representation of different SDG, and the skills in the network that are most needed and offered by the actors taking action towards the different goals.

Between the 2nd and the 4th of May, Unity Effect participated as an innovation partner in the SDG Global Festival of Action, introducing our latest service: an interactive tool for social network analysis which created a real-time visual representation of the conference.

In our booth at the Festival, participants had the opportunity to enter both personal information as well as details about their organization or initiative. This information was then visualized and projected in real-time onto a screen. The data collected allows both organizers and participants  to gain insights into the broader SDG ecosystem, its actors and their interconnection: 


The process of Social Network Mapping, which uses a mix of commercial and bespoke software platforms, was conceptualized in collaboration with systems engineer and systems and network science expert Pedro Portela. It is designed to enable attendants and participants to access valuable information about their existing and potential key partners.

Creating clarity around the SDGs ecosystem through data mapping & visualization

During the Festival, 227 people actively connected through the tool, forming a total of 808 new connections and networks, divided into three categories: “I know this person”, “I would like to meet this person” and “I am co-creating with this person”. These connections also showed an evolution throughout the three days of the event, moving from “I would like to meet person” to “I know this person”, for example. This application of the tool enables a more accurate impact monitoring of such events, particularly when the goal is to bring people together towards joint and meaningful action.

You can see an updated version of the mapping here.

A first data analysis conducted by Portela showed interesting insights regarding the distribution of the actors across the SDG field in the context of the Festival. There is, for example, a clear concentration of individuals involved with or working towards goals 4 (Quality Education), 17 (Partnership for the goals) & 13 (Climate Action)

On the other end, Goals 15 (Life on land), 6 (Clean Water and sanitation) and 14 (Life below water) resulted as the three most underrepresented Sustainable Development Goals. This information might provide the organizers more clarity and orientation for future planning of specific actions around these topics, such as engaging strategically with stakeholders in those areas.

A first overview of the different skills which are present within the SDGs ecosystem showed that finance, fundraising and strategic planning are the most needed among the participants. Conversely, a significant proportion of participants offered skills in the areas of communications and marketing, project coordination and developing and sustaining collaborations. This can be explained by the fact that the event brought together changemakers and activists from around the globe, some of them looking for funding for their ideas. This information can be used to strategically support action beyond the festival or for planning future events.

If you are interested in accessing more details regarding the visualization or a more detailed analysis, you can reach us via

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