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As physical scientists seek to understand how the Earth works, social scientists help us to understand how it looks or how we as humans change its appearance and function. It is also in social science that we perfect our ability to form partnerships that effectively work across disciplines, geographies and organisations. Here, we often use GIS to interactively and iteratively create and evaluate alternative (geo)designs to make better decisions, for example, with land cover for land-use planning, green infrastructure planning, urban planning and sustainability science.

All In for Sustainable Development


Open data, maps and an application program interface (API) support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).    

Sustainable Development Goals


In 2016, all member states of the United Nations adopted 17 Global Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Women and Sustainable Development
This story map showcases how the geospatial perspective can enrich the analysis of gender indicators to follow-up and review progress toward achieving the 2030 Agenda.
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Global gender gap index
The Global Gender Gap Index, produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF), examines the gap between men and women across four fundamental categories.
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Celebrating Women's Rights
Women and girls are more deeply impacted than men and boys by poverty, violence, discrimination and economic crises. See how the SDGs can help.
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More on the SDGs
These 17 goals set out to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.
Learn about sustainability

New insights into global population


Based on years of population geography R&D at Esri, we released a World Population Estimate (WPE) in 2014, which we continue to improve. The WPE is a raster surface and is much more amenable than previous point data to web mapping and use in analysis models. WPE is based on Earl Nordstrand's clever texture-detecting model to find areas in land cover that are most likely to have people, rather than solely relying on census counts or estimates of economic activity. Esri is also working with Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), as part of the POPGRID Open Data Collaborative. 

Building community engagement

Northumberland National Park Authority won an Esri UK Customer Success Award in the Community Engagement category in 2019. To build community engagement, the Northumberland National Park Authority created a Digital Landscape Exhibition that had over 30,000 visitors and had a 94% customer satisfaction rate, showcasing a range of Esri technology from dashboards to VR apps.

Improving energy efficiency

In a highly ambitious project, the Energy Saving Trust used Esri GIS technology to consolidate and analyse data on all 27 million homes in the UK. It gained a unique understanding of the energy efficiency status of every individual address and is now using this insight to help governments and commercial organisations implement energy saving schemes at more properties, more cost effectively than before.

Tackling homelessness

Homelessness is a complex issue. To properly address the root causes, organisations need to better understand the impacted communities, as well as the extent of the problem. Many organisations are using the ArcGIS platform to identify at-risk communities, count the homeless population, establish strategic partnerships, share resources and conduct targeted intervention and outreach.

Modernising the US Census

See how this agency has used GIS to modernise its enumeration, route optimisation, change detection and dissemination processes. It is also testing raster analytics on remote-sensing data in support of international surveys, as well as a suite of supplemental, nonofficial products to assist with the 2020 Census.

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