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The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence and SEI, is now launching the 2030 Compass CoLab, which utilizes collective intelligence and SDG expertise as one of three data sources to complete the Agenda 2030 Compass.

Written by

Sara TalebianYlva Rylander

Topics and subtopics

Governance : Sustainable Development Goals

Collective Intelligence Photo: PM Images / Getty.
Collective intelligence symbolized by an active human brain. Photo: PM Images / Getty Images. 

The Agenda 2030 Compass team invites experts with in-depth knowledge of sustainable development to contribute their perspectives on potential interactions between the SDGs.

Robert Laubacher, Associate Director of MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, explains collective intelligence and SDG interactions in conversation with Sara Talebian, SEI Research Associate.

Robert Laubacher, Associate Director of MIT
Robert Laubacher, Associate Director of MIT. Photo: MIT.
Sara Talebian
Sara Talebian, SEI Research Associate. Photo: SEI.

How collective intelligence can contribute to achieving the SDGs

  • QSara Talebian, SEI Research Associate: What is collective intelligence?ARobert Laubacher, Associate Director of MIT:Professor Thomas W. Malone, founder of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI), uses a very broad definition of collective intelligence. He says collective intelligence is when “groups of individuals act together in ways that seem intelligent.”By this definition, collective intelligence has been around a very long time. Early historical examples include tribes on the savannah and ancient city-states. In the modern era, nation-states, corporations and global markets are all good illustrations of collective intelligence in action.
  • QWhat challenges can collective intelligence address?AWeb-enabled collective intelligence can tackle a very broad range of challenges. In some of our previous projects, we engaged with online groups using an online platform we developed to:
  • QWhat is the 2030 Compass CoLab and how does it work?AThe 2030 Compass Colab is now launched and will be open from March 29 to April 18, 2021. It seeks to gain insights from a broad range of experts about potential synergies and trade-offs between the SDGs.The experts will first be invited to identify factors that may cause SDGs to complement or conflict with one another depending on a specific region or state. For example, SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and SDG 13 (Climate Action) are likely to complement each other in nations that rely on low carbon energy, but they will probably be in conflict in fossil fuel-dependent states.After experts have identified factors that could influence the interaction between a pair of SDGs, they will then be invited to assign interaction scores, depending on whether a country or region has a high or low value on that factor. The scale used for these interaction scores was developed by SEI Executive Director Måns Nilsson and SEI scientists Nina Weitz, Henrik Carlsen and Kristian Skånberg.

Graphics from the Agenda 2030 Compass

SDG interaction in the Agenda 2030 Compass. Credit: SEI and MIT.
Graphic: Agenda 2030 Compass. Credit: SEI and MIT.
  • QSara Talebian: Who can participate in 2030 Compass CoLab and what are the benefits?ARobert Laubacher: We welcome participants with experience in all aspects of sustainable development, from the international to the domestic level, and from all parts of the world. We particularly want experts working outside Europe and North America to take part, so we can achieve broad global coverage.Participants will be part of a global collaborative effort to develop a deeper understanding of how making progress on particular SDGs can help or hinder making progress on others. We plan to credit participants who wish to be acknowledged on the 2030 Compass CoLab platform and in the publications that result from this effort.We ask that participants spend 1-2 hours per week during the three-week exercise, contributing their ideas and reading and commenting on ideas submitted by others.
  • QHow will 2030 Compass CoLab help the world to make progress on the SDGs?AContributions to 2030 Compass CoLab will be combined with two other data sources: 1) inputs from an expert panel and 2) quantitative analysis of SDG indicator historical data. All three data sources will serve as the basis of a tool designed to generate matrices that describe the nature of SDG interactions for specific nations and regions.These maps will be used in workshops with policy makers, business executives and NGO officials to evaluate strategies under consideration and assess their anticipated contribution to making progress on the SDGs.

Robert Laubacher

Robert Laubacher’s current research looks at how the Internet is allowing people to work together at a scale and in a manner that was previously inconceivable.

To develop and gain support for creative new ideas to address climate change, the Climate CoLab project harnessed the collective intelligence of people globally, resulting in an online community with over 4 000 members.