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What is the SDG Knowledge Hub?

This document is a hub for quick information on each Sustainable Development Goal that you can focus on during the hackathon. It has short descriptions for each goal, as well as questions for inspiration, datasets and resources, and examples of past projects. All that should be enough to ignite your creativity and get you working on a solution!

However, this document is not the end-all be-all knowledge source for these goals. There is much more information out there, and we encourage you to go above and beyond what's here. A great source to start with is the UN SDG site itself, here.



GOAL 1: No Poverty

The number of people living in extreme poverty has halved in the past 25 years, from 1.9 billion to 836 million -- but that is still 836 million too many. Throughout the world, there are still many who lack access to basic human needs like potable water, sturdy shelter and reliable electrical power, trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty from which there seems to be no escape. Finding creative and innovative ways to intervene in this cycle is essential if we want to lift these millions of people out of poverty and allow them to reach their unbridled potential.

Effectively breaking this vicious cycle requires creative, innovative, and scalable solutions that can be deployed anywhere, from your local neighbourhood to the most impoverished regions in sub-saharan Africa. Evidently, solutions targeting run-down “barrios” in Caracas, Venezuela will be vastly different from those intervening in endangered areas of the Tenderloin, but they will all rely on the same foundation: intervening in and breaking the vicious poverty trap.


  • How might we incentivize charitable donations from individuals?
  • How might we use technology to improve the financial services available to those in remote areas, or isolated regions with poor infrastructure?
  • How might we revamp the microfinance industry using technology?


Dataset on various economic indicators

Data on economic indicators in SF

Short description of the issue of poverty in SF

Various Data visualizations on world poverty by the World Bank

Past projects

App for food sharing

App letting donate people 1$ each day

Helping refugees in the developing world

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

The world has come a long way since the days of widespread famines and deadly droughts, but to this day there are still 795 million people who are chronically undernourished. Even in cities as technologically advanced as San Francisco, many still find it hard to put food in their stomach at the end of the day. Simply put, no human being should have to worry about where they will get their next meal from.

Tackling the problem of hunger requires a multidisciplinary approach at many different levels. Environmental degradation, climate change, drought, loss of biodiversity, international trading markets -- it is very hard to break down the problem of hunger to only one culprit. This means that any solutions must be cohesive and coordinated, but also that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. From redistributing food waste in the local neighbourhood to rethinking power dynamics in international trade, we can slowly lay down the building blocks towards a world with no hunger.


  • How might we use technology to reduce food waste by restaurants in our community?
  • How might we use technology to improve the efficiency and productivity of arable land?
  • How could we shift the power dynamics at play in international trade to benefit both developing and developed countries equally?


Dataset From Food and Drug Administration

USDA Nutrient National Base

Global food prices

Food Searches on Google since 2004

The World Bank data on zero hunger

Past projects

Chowberry - Nigeria-based app that allows users to find products close to expiration offered at Nigerian supermarkets (but still safe to eat) at deep discounts.

Olio - an app that connects neighbors and local businesses in England to each other enabling them to share surplus food instead of wasting it.

Food for all - a mobile app through which hungry people can buy restaurants’ leftovers at a discount.

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

Although in the previous decades numerous countries have significantly decrease many mortality rates, preventing diseases and reducing premature deaths still remains a challenge. Worldwide, 5.6 million kids die under 5-years-old and in some specific regions at Africa, half of the kids die before achieve this age. In what concerns to medical treatment, 90% of the least developed countries have less than one physician per 1,000 people.

SDG 3 tackles many complex systems that have to be explored in many levels of analysis. The three main cores of this goal are “Reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health”, “Infectious and non-communicable diseases” and “health systems and funding”. The main goals by 2030 involves reducing the global maternity ratio and under-5 mortality ratio; universal access to health coverage; and access to sexual and reproductive health care.


  • How can we decrease child mortality in developing countries?
  • What could be done about the national health funding efficiency?
  • How might we use technology to improve hospital sanitation?
  • How might we use technology to improve the availability of healthcare in isolated regions?


The UN SDG Data Report (go to page 5)

European Stats on SDG3

U.S. Public data on health

Past projects

HeadSpace - meditation application.

Sleep Cycle - an application that analyses sleep quality

GOAL 4: Quality Education

Education has always played a crucial role in society’s development. Utilizing learned knowledge for sustainable world requires having quality education for any social groups and regions. Some of the reasons for poor education, as defined by the United Nations, are ‘lack of adequately trained teachers, poor conditions of schools and equity issues related to opportunities provided to rural children’. As the famous Mandela’s quote, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. For more information see the UN vision on this challenge!

We are looking for creative, innovative ideas that may improve the quality of education worldwide and locally from the novel perspective. Some organizations, such as UNESCO, are working on ‘improvement of an access to quality education on sustainable development at all levels and in all social contexts, to transform society by reorienting education and help people develop knowledge, skills, values and behaviours needed for sustainable development.’


  • How can we increase child enrollment in primary education?
  • In a technological world, how might we democratize access to technological education in San Francisco?
  • How might we teach core principles of A.I. using software and hardware (robotics) in a fun, accessible, and engaging way for 8-18-year-olds?
  • How might we use VR/AR to create a more engaging learning environment for 8-18-year-olds?
  • How might we use technology to promote access to education for 60+ years-old who had low levels of formal education?


Government Data

Education Statistics from the World Bank

Local education data statistics from

Past projects


Minerva Schools

Promise Neighborhoods

Augmented reality features for Google Translator



VR education

AI tutor

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

Unfortunately, gender inequality still remains present in the present society. Rooted in the ‘common daily basis’ such complex issue recalls rebuilding/breaking concepts and habits that have been carried by our society. Still, there is much to improve. Looking at a glance, 49 countries still don’t have any legislation regarding domestic violence. Only 23.4% of national parliaments positions are occupied by women. More information at the UN’s description.

Overcoming all forms of discrimination against women and adopting sound policies for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women requires addressing issues that are diluted into social structures, such as unfair social norms and attitudes that deprive women and girls of their basics right.


  • How might we transform job roles that are currently male-dominant to empower women to grow their communities?
  • How might we aware people of unfair social norms and attitudes that negatively impact women/girls?
  • How might we overcome traditions rooted in some cultures (i.e., unequal distribution of domestic tasks, early marriage, FGM) to assure more gender equality?


Violence Against Women

Cool inforgraphics

Women in Politics

Gender Wage Gap

Past Projects

Seattle Against Slavery

Ms. Foundation for Women

Women Who Code

Girls in Tech

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Dealing with one of the crucial resources for human life in earth is an essential tasks for the future. Unfortunately, 29% of the global population lack safety managing drinking water supplies and 61% lack safety sanitation practices. In 22 countries the water stress level is about 70%, which strongly indicates a change of water scarcity in the future. The critical goal in SDG 6 is to ensure availability and sustainability of water management for all. In other words, the whole population need to have access to safe and accessible drinking water, and also be able to manage this resource efficiently (i.e. reduce waste). Also, SDG 6 tackles adequate water treatment after human use, to ensure that water-related ecosystems are not harmed.


  • How might we use technology to improve access to potable water in isolated regions?
  • How might we enable households to better measure the quality of their drinking water?
  • How might we improve our use of natural water sources, and reduce wastage?


EarthScience Datasets

UN SDGs indicators

Past projects

Xyla Water - YSI project which creates hardware tools

Aquasolis - YSI creating hardware

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Energy is a key element for the nearest future, such topic mixes economic growth, human development, and sustainability. In the modern world, 13% of the global population still don’t have access to electricity and only 17.5% of the final energy consumption is from renewable sources. Ensuring access to clean and affordable energy to the whole population, for a wide range of uses (i.e., transportation, domestic applications, factories) is a challenge that needs to be overcome to guarantee sustainable growth.

Solving such a complicated situation requires first breaking it down into the multiple components that comprise this system, such as energy sources used, how they are distributed and the reason behind those actions. As it is a very broad topic, SDG 7 incorporates many central keywords, such as affordability, efficiency, accessibility, and sustainability.


  • How might we incentivize the use of sustainable energy on both local and global level?
  • How might we use technology to improve the efficiency of power consumption in households?
  • How might we improve the access to electricity in isolated regions?


Renewable Energy Consumption (dataset)

Access to electricity (dataset)

Energy Consumption by Mode of Transportation (dataset)

Annual Energy Review (datasets)

Past Projects

Startups related to Energy Efficiency (link1) (link2)

Hackathon focused on Energy Efficiency

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Throughout the world, we are observing a rapidly growing middle class and a sharp decline in workers who live in extreme poverty -- in fact, 34% of total employment in developing countries is made up of the middle class, a number which has tripled in the past 25 years. However, much of the recent economic growth has brought about increased inequality with it, and there are still many that suffer under forced labour, slavery, and human trafficking. In today’s world, everyone should have the ability to hold a decent job and truly enjoy the “rising tide that lifts all boats”.

Solutions for this problem will be very diverse in nature, as each facet of it can be approached differently. From leveraging technology to devise better systems for detecting human trafficking, to re-thinking policies to create a flexible yet equitable labour market, they will all combine to create a world where everyone gets a fair share in today’s prosperous economies.


  • How might we increase the flexibility of the San Francisco labour market?
  • How might we reduce the "friction" experienced by workers when changing jobs in an increasingly dynamic work environment?
  • How could we employ technology to better detect forced labour in developing and developed countries?
  • Could we use satellite imagery to detect human trafficking?
  • How might we rethink labour markets using technology?


UN Human Development Data (multiple datasets)

Global Wage Report (2016/2017)

Child Labor (worldwide, US)

Sustainable Tourism

Past projects

Tourism For All

Seattle Against Slavery



GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Investment in industry, infrastructure and scientific research, be it public or private, has been the main driver of economic growth and prosperity for the past century, giving the world incredibly diverse innovations such as electric vehicles, pest-resistant crops, and the world wide web itself. Continued investment must be encouraged as we continue the 21st century, as technological progress will be the key to finding solutions to our most pressing economic and environmental challenges.

Finding new ways to encourage, foster and sustain investment in industry and infrastructure is imperative to continue reaping the benefits of innovation and economic growth. Be it through democratising investment and making it easier for entrepreneurs to get sources of funding, or through developing creative ways to facilitate increased research and development, a sustained focus on innovation will drive us swiftly onwards through the 21st century, as it has done in the past.


  • How might we democratise investment in startups?
  • Is it possible to crowdsource research and development?
  • How might we use technology to make investment simpler and more streamlined?
  • Could we use distributed networks to solve pressing R&D challenges?


Research and Development expenditure (dataset)

Research and Development Data Visualization

Investing in Public Transportation Structure

Researchers per million people (dataset)

Past projects

Scoop (startup)

Cocolis (startup)

Forbes AgroTech Startups List

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

Income inequality continues to increase in today’s globalised world, with the richest 10% of people in the world earning 40% of the world’s total income -- and this difference is even more stark within countries and communities. A more equal distribution of income, that is justly allocated and is not influenced by race, sex, or ethnicity, leads to a more productive economy and an improved quality of life for all.

Solving a complex problem like this one requires approaches from multiple angles that rely on diverse backgrounds and perspectives. From improving financial market regulations to facilitating the safe migration and labour mobility of people, a multifaceted approach is required to bridge the “great divide”.


  • How might we increase the transparency of financial markets?
  • How might we make financial institutions more accountable?
  • Is it possible to add checks and balances to prevent grave economic downturns?
  • How might we make investing easier and more accessible to everyone?
  • Can we improve the direct foreign aid process?
  • How might we use technology to increase development assistance to impoverished countries?


US Census dataset

Policies to reduce income inequality

More policies to reduce income inequality

Awesome dataset for inequality

INCREDIBLE book on income inequality, from both a micro and macro perspective

Past projects

Robinhood - democratise investment

Kiva - microfinance initiative - micro-scholarships

Proyecto Salvavidas

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Over half of the world’s population now lives in cities. By 2050, the number will rise to 6.5 billion people making up two-thirds of humanity. An extreme rural to urban migration, as well as the rapid development of cities all around the globe has led to a drastic increase in the number of mega-cities. From 10 million people living in ten mega-cities in 1990, humanity went to a total of 453 million people living in 28 mega-cities in 2014. As the number of people living in cities goes up, extreme poverty, lack of organization and resources linked to the struggles with accommodating to the rising populations have made it critical to significantly transform the way we build and manage urban spaces to achieve the sustainable development. For more information, feel free to refer to the UN’s description.

Making cities and communities sustainable means ensuring access to safe and affordable housing, and upgrading the current conditions. It is also highly connected to the investments and innovations in public transport, creating green public spaces improving urban planning and management in both inclusive and practical way.


  • How might we provide access to safe, affordable and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety by expanding public transport and addressing those in most need?
  • How might we significantly reduce the number of deaths and substantially decrease the direct economic losses caused by disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations?
  • How might we reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management?
  • How might we ensure affordable and safe housing for all people?
  • How might we provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces for all people?
  • How might we support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning?
  • How might we mitigate and adapt to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, holistic disaster risk management at all levels?
  • How might we create more robust social safety nets in endangered San Francisco communities?


San Francisco Public Datasets

San Francisco Public Dataset #2

The UN Data Report for SDG 11 (multiple datasets)

Collection of Public Transportation Data

Past projects

Call for Code

Some Smart Cities applications in the US

Ideation for Smart Cities applications

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns is a crucial aspect for being able to maximize the production of essential resources while reducing the footprint that they leave in the environment. Whether the subject is the methods used in agriculture or domestic recycling and food waste, unsustainable practices must be substituted for environmental-based policies that aim to better use and manage the available natural resources.

With a Responsible Consumption and Production method, we would be able not only to reduce the material footprint left behind by human activities, but most importantly, use and managing natural resources properly. There are multiple ways to tackle SDG 12, such as a country recycling rate, number of companies publishing sustainability reports, or the global food loss index. Feel free to look at the UN’s description for more information!


  • How might we use technology to better inform customers about sustainable products?
  • Could we use technology to improve garbage separation, facilitating recycling?
  • How might we increase the incentives for companies to publish sustainability reports?
  • How might we use technology to reduce food waste in households?


Food Waste Datasets (national and regional)

Global Footprint Data (this resource contains multiple visualizations for global footprint data, despite of links to many others)

Many waste-related datasets (You can many a wide range of datasets, for multiple locations with many different measurements)

Recycling Infographic (Forbes infographic ranking countries based on their recycling practices)

Past projects




GOAL 13: Climate Action

All countries around the world are experiencing the profound effects of climate change. Rising sea levels bringing ruin to coastal communities, dry and scorching hot spells of weather setting forests alight, devastating monsoons leaving nothing but rubble and spoiled crops behind -- the world is a changed place because of the disastrous effects of Earth’s changing climate, with disaster risk management alone requiring an investment of $6 billion annually. Immediate action must be taken if we want to ensure that future generations enjoy the same Earth that we once did.

Climate action is a broad topic. From reducing carbon dioxide emissions to combating rising sea levels, every action, big or small, combines to mitigate Earth’s most pressing problem.


  • How might we incentivize companies to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions?
  • How might we use technology to help communities endangered by sea level rise in the near future?
  • How might we allow individuals to easily reduce their carbon footprint?
  • How might we predict and better contain natural disasters like forest fires, floods, etc.?


NASA GISS Temperature Analysis (dataset and data visualizations)

NOAA Temperature Anomaly (real-time data)

NOAA Sea Level Rise (dataset)

Historical CO2 Datasets

WWC Pollution guidelines

Past projects

List of 32 projects related to the topic (all of them were approved for funding)

7 Startups named CES 2019 Climate Change Innovators

More Startups ideas

GOAL 14: Life Below Water

Oceans cover over two thirds of the Earth’s surface, are home to hundreds of thousands of diverse species and feed two fifths of the world’s population. However, human activities and lack of proper management are causing fish stocks to decline, acidity levels to rise, and a rapid increase in eutrophication. It is critically important that we proactively preserve and protect the source of life on this planet.

From more sustainable food resource management to better waste disposal systems, there are many ways that we can work towards the goal of better preserving our oceans. An interdisciplinary approach, harnessing an understanding of the biology and ecosystems that are present in our oceans as well as creative ways to solve the problems that plague them, will be essential in tackling this problem.


  • How might we use technology to improve the management of global fish stocks?
  • How might we identify and mitigate the largest contributors to rising acidity levels in the world’s oceans?
  • Is there a more efficient way to clean up our oceans?
  • How might we combat the effects of human pollution on underwater species?


Ocean Health Index

Trash Pollution Data & Effects

Ocean Acidification

NASA Data collection

Past projects

Coastal Cleanup (platform that connect volunteers worldwide to help cleaning coastal areas )

Sustainable Ocean Alliance (Organization recognized by Forbes and the UN)

Siren Marine (Startup focusing on data analytics for boat owners)

GOAL 15: Life on Land

Despite the progress made towards protecting the world’s forests and terrestrial species, there is still a lot of work to be done. The Earth’s total forest areas continue to shrink, vegetation-covered areas’ productivity is on the decline, and there is an alarming decline in the number of mammals, birds, amphibians, corals and cycads. It is of vital importance that we protect these resources so that future generations can enjoy the same Earth that we do.

As life on land is incredibly diverse, so are the approaches to tackling the problem. From ideating ways to improve the productivity of arable land to thinking of ways to conserve our genetic resources and wide array of species, any solution will require a novel perspective, bridging disciplines to protect life on land.


  • How might we improve the monitoring of endangered species in the wild?
  • How might we use technology to improve the productivity of arable land on Earth?
  • How might we create sustainable incentives for reforesting the Earth?
  • How might we use technology to aid our species conservation efforts?


WWF Datasets

Earth Engine Datasets

WWF Publications

Freshwater datasets

Past projects


Natural Capital Project - (concrete ways to financially valuate ecosystems)


AirWare (auto piloted drones to prevent illicit hunting)

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

Although today’s world is much safer than in the past, intentional homicide, human trafficking, violence against children and sexual violence remain significant problems, especially in the developing world. This problem is clearly multidimensional, but they all require building more peaceful, inclusive societies, and implementing transparent regulations with realistic government budgets.


  • How might we improve the rates of birth registration in developing countries?
  • How might we use technology to better detect tax fraud and tax evasion in developing countries?
  • Is it possible to tackle corruption and bribery in an already corrupt judicial system?
  • How might we use technology to increase the transparency of government and public institutions?


US government crime datasets

Datasets on police-related issues

Birth registration data

Past projects

Movement tackling corruption

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the goals

Achieving the sustainable development goals is no small task, and it requires extensive coordination and participation from many different stakeholders around the world. Partnerships must be formed between governments, the private sector and society in general. These partnerships must be built on principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre, and they must exist at all levels -- local, national, governmental, global, and everything in between.


  • How might we use technology to better coordinate foreign aid?
  • How might we better evaluate the effectiveness of foreign aid and thus encourage the giving of it by developed nations?
  • How might we use technology to facilitate equitable, transparent trade between nations, both developed and developing?


Comprehensive dataset on world trade statistics

Datasets on foreign aid

USAID datasets

  • How might we incentivize charitable donations from individuals?
  • How might we use technology to improve the financial services available to those in remote areas, or isolated regions with poor infrastructure?
  • How might we revamp the microfinance industry using technology?


Dataset on various economic indicators Data on economic indicators in SF Short description of the issue of poverty in SF Various Data visualizations on world poverty by the World Bank

Past projects

App for food sharing App letting donate people 1$ each day Helping refugees in the developing world

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