Collective Intelligence for Sustainable Development
Who is this report for?
The report is aimed at senior officials within national governments, international agencies and development organizations who understand the urgency for action and want to tap into distributed collective intelligence as part of national strategies towards the SDGs. We also hope this report will provide a source of inspiration for innovators within broader development and research communities.
This study was carried out from September 2020 to January 2021. Over 277 case studies covering a wide range of collective intelligence methods were mapped and categorized by most relevant SDG. Case studies were drawn from Nesta’s existing repositories and publications of collective intelligence case studies, as well as a rapid review of the academic and grey literature on the SDGs and related fields, such as citizen science and digital democracy. Case studies from UNDP Accelerator Labs were identified using a combination of online search and semi-structured interviews carried out by a Nesta researcher.
During our analysis we identified use cases, where we inferred a common purpose amongst case studies – particularly looking for use cases that were relevant to multiple SDGs. For each use case we assigned a number of SDG targets. These were identified by retrospective analysis of the focus of the case studies against the SDG targets.
Although few of the case studies explicitly documented links to a specific SDG target or goal, this retrospective analysis helps to illustrate how collective intelligence methods could be used more intentionally for the SDGs in the future. The limitations of our approach mean that the targets listed are unlikely to be the only ones that could benefit from the application of collective intelligence methods. They are, however, the ones where we found the clearest association – and may offer the quickest wins for funders, practitioners and governments.