More than 2000 volunteers — half of which are online volunteers through UNV Online Volunteering service — are part of a research activity called the OSDG initiative. This is made possible through the collaboration of United Nations Development Programme Istanbul International Center for Private Development (UNDP IICPSD's), SDG AI Lab and European-based research institute PPMI. The OSDG initiative attracts a growing number of researchers led by Dr. Nuria Bautista Puig to connect science, technology, and public policy on sustainable development.
OSDG is a flagship product of the partnership between UNDP IICPSD and PPMI. It's a free, open-source, and user-friendly tool classifying text and publications into different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In March 2021, the OSDG team kicked off a global science project. Through an inclusive process, the OSDG Community platform aimed to build the largest and broadest possible consultation on the SDGs monitoring.
Online volunteer citizen scientists assess the relevance of various text excerpts to SDGs, bringing together the knowledge and expertise to better understand the nature of SDGs. The volunteers read the text excerpts and analyze their relevance to the specific SDG. Volunteers can also decide if they want to work on a specific SDG, for example, SDG 5, or if they want to assess a mix of all SDGs.
As of October 2022, the OSDG Community platform has attracted over 2,000 citizen scientists from over 130 countries. Volunteers are of diverse ages, academic and professional backgrounds. From 18 to 70 years, from graduates to doctorate degree holders — the project has received insights, knowledge and expertise from people around the world. Registration data reveals that project efforts were supported by representatives of almost 100 universities from more than 20 countries.
Online volunteers — though all diverse — are united by the desire to become part of the global movement on SDGs:
I find SDGs to be an excellent outline of various aspects that should be taken into consideration when creating a business strategy. It was a very appealing project because it allowed me to, not only help develop a functional tool but also learn about the goals on a deeper level – Milena Dragović
For Dr. Jafaru Jr. Egieya volunteering with OSDG strengthens his research skills. In addition, it contributes to his daily work on researching and assessing the trade-offs, and synergies in the water-energy-food nexus within the African context. Similarly, for Fernando Barreto de Almeida, it's an opportunity to learn a lot in several subjects, and explore the reality of different countries and regions of the world.
With the contributions of Milena, Jafaru, Fernando, Caroline, and a thousand other online volunteers, PPMI and SDG AI Lab released four quarterly versions with a total of 3,726 views and almost 3000 downloads from over 40 countries. The datasets receive a notable amount of traffic from the United States, India, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and Spain. The partners plan to release the new version later this year, which would include all 17 SDGs.
The dataset has been actively used in academic research, including a study on the European Green Deal and its linkages with the SDGs. The OSDG Community Dataset has also been applied to help assess the university curriculum with University of Hong Kong’s Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative.
All these dataset activities are made possible through the work of the OSDG Volunteer Community platform coordinators, Dina Akylbekova from UNDP IICPSD’ SDG AI Lab and Gustė Statulevičiūtė from PPMI.
Having mobilized over 900 online volunteers through the UNV Online Volunteering service to help support the analysis of the SDGs, we have demonstrated the true spirit of volunteerism around the world. Our partnership with UNV has been highly valuable, and we look forward to furthering our collaboration; strengthening our relationship as we dedicate ourselves to getting one step closer to attaining the SDGs. --Dina Akylbekova, Outreach and Partnerships Analyst at the UNDP IICPSD.
The collective effort of the OSDG community is truly inspiring! Citizen scientists from all around the world chose to dedicate time to assess SDG-relevant content. This contribution has assisted the scientific community in discovering new insights into the SDGs and allowed to advance our open-source classification tool. --Gustė Statulevičiūtė, Junior Researcher and Communications Officer at PPMI.
The OSDG Community Platform plans to include more languages to the existing selection of 15 and enlarge the dataset for improved accuracy. They also aim to start labelling SDG 17, as this one is currently not included in the dataset.
To access more information about the online volunteers' global movement on SDGs, and to get involved, please check out the OSDG Community Platform!