Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency has invested in the creation of the Agenda 2030 Compass. The Agenda 2030 Compass was developed by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, the Swedish steel producers’ association (Jernkontoret) and the software developer Swedwise.
The compass is now available for use by a broad range of actors around the world who are looking for a structured way for their strategies, policies or products to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Agenda 2030 Compass tool allows users to engage in a co-creation process and jointly evaluate the merits of a given investment option, product, or policy by assessing direct and indirect effects on the SDGs.
Steering towards societal value creation
The tool uses the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs, adopted unanimously by world leaders in 2015, as a starting point. The 2030 Agenda represents a holistic global vision of sustainability and how its many dimensions interact. An increasing demand for products, services and infrastructure that are sustainable throughout their lifecycle has driven the development of this tool.
“The Agenda 2030 Compass provides a practical, structured way for the SDGs to inform decisions that companies or government face in strategic planning. The versatility of the 2030 Compass is one of its unique features. The tool has been used to test the sustainability of product design, housing development and municipal planning strategies. The method could be applied in almost any sector or country.”
— Timothy Suljada, Head of the Resources, Rights and Development Division at SEI
Crowdsourcing with over 100 global experts
The Compass allows users to consider all 17 SDGs and how they interact with each other – and strategic options considered by the actor in question. In this way, it can quantify, visualize and compare how different action options contribute societal value across all the SDGs, to maximize the positive interactions and minimize the negative ones.
“Using MIT's online CoLab platform, over 100 experts from all around the world contributed more than 500+ assessments of interactions between pairs of SDGs. The data collected in this crowdsourcing exercise has served as a key input to the Agenda 2030 Compass.”
— Robert Laubacher, Executive Director and Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
“The method has been built up from a deep dive into data on indicators relevant to SDG progress, fine-tuned by experts on each of the 17 SDGs and successfully tested on strategies from a diverse range of sectors,” added Suljada.
“Overall, the organizations were positive about being a part of the co-creation process for developing the tool,” recalled Åsa Gerger Swartling, Senior Research Fellow and Head of Knowledge Management at SEI. Many pointed to the value of listening to each other’s different perspectives on how their strategies impacted the SDGs. Their engagement made assessments of goals and results more relevant to decisions they are facing in designing strategies and policies.”
Sweden’s steel industry created a global vision
A decade ago, the Swedish steel industry took a joint decision – and created a vision – to only deliver good, and nothing bad: everything they did should be of societal value. To navigate towards this vision, actors and members needed a definition of societal value and a tool to lead the way.
“To align with Agenda 2030 and use the synergies between many of the SDGs, it was decided to construct a compass-like tool to find the most powerful synergies,” said Kristian Skånberg, Research Manager at Jernkontoret. “That and finding ways to avoid existing trade-offs between some of the SDGs became the definition of societal value.”
To better reflect how different goals and strategies can interact in the wide range of contexts where the tool might be used, the Agenda 2030 Compass was created with a combination of expert assessments and crowdsourcing exercises.
“Now it's time for actors in other sectors to use the Agenda 2030 Compass, not least our legislators, to ensure that all aspects of sustainability and societal value creation is considered in parliaments and governments.”
— Gert Nilson, Technical Director at Jernkontoret
Vinnova, has invested several million SEK in the Agenda 2030 Compass that will be presented to politicians, governmental agencies, academia and industry on 2 December 2022 in Stockholm.
SEI, Jernkontoret and the Swedish steel industry have collaborated for several years on the concept of societal value: what it means, how to measure it and achieve it to control future investments. This is a unique initiative in which heavy industry, in cooperation with researchers and social actors, analyze how decisions about investments or measures affect the conditions for achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda and contribute to societal value creation.
Jernkontoret is the Swedish steel producers’ association. We safeguard the steel industry’s interests through working for the best possible preconditions for operations in Sweden. We wish to be recognized as a pillar of credibility and a discussion partner with specialist expertise.
The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence explores how people and computers can be connected so that – collectively – they act more intelligently than any person, group, or computer has ever done before.
Swedwise is an IT company offering software licenses, consulting, software development and support.