A system seeing itself: Live social network analysis by Unity Effect at the SDG Global Festival of Action

As an Innovation Partner of the Festival in May 2019, the Unity Effect team conducted a live social network mapping of festival participants. The report containing the key findings is now available to the public. You can access the full report here and the Executive Summary here.

At Unity Effect, we see the Sustainable Development Goals as a crucial framework to tackle our current challenges and support meaningful change. We also see the potential of events such as the SDG Global Festival of Action to bring together actors from across diverse fields and sectors.

In this sense, we were driven to create a platform which would allow actors to connect more deliberately, with the intention of catalysing collaboration and action during and beyond the festival, and in doing so unlock the significant potential within people, organisations and the network to drive change.

The importance of visualising networks 

How are actors distributed across the SDG ecosystem? Which SDG are they working on? What are the skills and resources which are most needed within the SDG network? What are possible leverage points for joint action and strategic planning? These are some of the questions addressed by the report developed by the Unity Effect team after conducting  a live social network mapping of 227 festival participants.

The Unity Effect booth at the Global Festival of Action.

The tool was designed to provide the organisation and attendants with valuable information about their existing and potential key partners, together with a real time visualisation of the network and its dynamic and unfolding connections. The mapping displayed both information about individuals as well as details about the organisation or initiative in which they are currently active.

In a first data analysis we provided insights regarding the representation of different SDGs, and the skills in the network that are most needed and offered by the actors taking action towards the goals.

Some other key findings are related to the ways this information can be used for strategic planning and joint action. Besides visualising the imbalances in the network in terms of SDG representation and available skills, the work conducted by our team also shed a light into aspects such as the bridges between SDGs and potential clusters for innovation.

The most popular SDG triangle selected by participants.

The findings -now available to the general public- confirm that network visualisation is a powerful tool to explore the relationships which exist within a network, which are otherwise hidden. It enables the network to see itself: to identify the central elements, information flows, blind spots and potential to create new connections and to see where there are leverage points for change and transformation.

You can access the complete report here ( or download it as a PDF: GFA Social Network Analysis Report by Unity Effect.

You can access the Executive Summary of the report by clicking here.

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