Aligning neighbourhood data to the Sustainable Development Goals

We have been talking to community foundations about the ways they are using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as evidence of the impact of their work, with the goal of taking an approach of ‘thinking global and acting local’. The aim here is to have all community foundations around the world heading in this same direction in support of the SDGs. 

The SDGs are more usually referred to in an international context, as part of a global agenda to end poverty, protect the environment and improve every person’s life equally and fairly across the globe. 

So, how can a global agenda be applied locally? 

Many of the community foundations we work with are building the SDGs into their funding activity – finding they naturally align with many of their goals and are a good way to measure and demonstrate their impact.

In this blog, we look at how the SDGs are being implemented domestically and how data within Local Insight can be used to monitor progress towards the SDGs.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 universal goals designed to focus action on ending poverty, protecting the environment and improving every person’s life equally and fairly across the globe. The 17 Goals were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Across the UK these goals are captured in national frameworks set out by the Department for International Development. Policies and priorities extending from these frameworks are focused on monitoring and delivering these goals at both national and local levels across all areas of health, wellbeing, poverty, education, gender equality, strong economies, innovation and infrastructure, sustainable environments and climate action. 

Using data to track progress towards SDGs at a local level

UK level data for the Global Indicators is reported to the UN by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The data is open and accessible via the National Reporting Platform and links across all themes of the 17 SDGs to relevant and open data that can be used to monitor progress across all themes at national level across the UK.


As organisations and councils plan and set agendas for their communities in relation to these goals, it is increasingly important to explore indicators and data on these themes at smaller levels of geography. 

Aligning Local Insight indicators to SDGs 

With this in mind, we have started to pull together a summary of the indicators that are available at small area level in Local Insight, aligned to the 17 SDGs. 

The table linked below provides a list of the indicators in Local Insight that can be used to keep track of the progress being made in your communities across the themes. 

Local Insight – Indicators list by SDGs

Indicators have been included where they are

  •  up to date and updated consistently to allow for ongoing monitoring and comparison
  •  where they provide a useful measure for tracking the SDGs specific aims and can be used as an estimate of an area’s position on the measure. 

Whilst the indicators have been grouped by SDG there is also some overlap across themes and some indicators may be applicable in reference to multiple goals. 

What about the gaps in available data?  

There are still gaps in the availability of granular and up to date measures, particularly around measuring inequality, gender equality, educational progress and environmental sustainability. 

The government’s ‘Voluntary National Review of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals‘ addresses such data gaps and stresses the importance of working towards “data which is timely, comprehensive and disaggregated…to continue to drive progress on the Goals and realise the promise to Leave No One Behind”. The ONS in turn outlines plans to support these improvements in data provision, including: 

  • supplementing official data with new methods and sources, aiming to fill more data gaps using nongovernmental data; 
  • continuing to increase data disaggregation; and
  • ensuring data developments are focussed on developing data capacity globally as well as domestically. For example, the UK will launch a hub of the ONS Data Science Campus (in partnership with the Department for International Development) that will have a focus on analysis of the Goals.

We will monitor new developments in open and administrative data with the aim of closing these gaps and providing a broader overview of indicators for reviewing the SDGs at small area level. 

How to use Local Insight to continue to monitor SDGs going forward?

Each of these indicators is available on Local Insight and can be:

  • Grouped into themes to view on the maps
  • Explored as part of an area profile report
  • Downloaded as raw data at LSOA or MSOA level

Sign up for a demo of Local Insight to find out more.

There are also a couple of indicators only available at Local Authority level, particularly around homelessness. These are available to download through the links provided in the table. 


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