Impact Measurement for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals - ON-149

Preferred Disciplines: Data science and big data analytics, sub-focus/related roles could be as sustainability analyst, macroeconomics (Masters; PhD or Post-Doc)
Company: Anonymous
Project Length:  8-12 months (2 units)
Desired start date: As soon as possible
Location: Waterloo, ON
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: Universities with strong reputation or expertise related to impact measurement/analysis, working with global indicators like the Sustainable Development Goals are a good fit. Work in calculating carbon credits and sustainability could also be related. 

About the Company: 

A fast-growing Waterloo-based technology start-up developing impact measurement and reporting tools that support public-private sector, academia and civil society in tracking their efforts in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We believe that meaningful community connections come from empowering the passions of people, and big data can be used for social good. Our SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solutions emphasize the value of skills-based volunteering and help organizations capture and communicate their positive impact.

Project Description:

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lay down a framework with a universal call to action for government, civil society, private sector and citizens to work together to tackle the root causes of poverty and make a positive change for both people and planet. The challenge is connecting the bold, largely qualitative goals, with quantifiable measures–for without organizations cannot evaluate progress toward achieving the SDGs.
Our fast-growing technology start-up has created a mechanism to capture real-time data on citizen and/or organization action towards each of SDGs. The goal of this project is to develop a novel impact assessment and data model to analyze and map individual actions to measurable social impact indicators.
The intern will work with our team to construct a model to predict outcomes and discover underlying patterns between the SDGs, with the goal of gaining insights into the social and environment performance of users/organizations.

Research Objectives:

The research will connect global economic and social indicators with deeper, sector specific data sets including carbon offset measurement framework, population data, and the 169 targets of the SDGs. Identifying such measures not only provides summarization of the structure of topics and connection between activities, but also are important to analyze user behaviours in the setting of social or cultural impacts. Objectives include:

  1. To propose a novel impact assessment to incorporate social discovery and economic indicators into topic modeling
  2. To perform experiments on several real datasets to demonstrate the effectiveness of the novel proposed analysis platform
  3. Convert model into a user-friendly tool for users/organizations and conduct case studies/user-testing


Sample methodologies that will be employed include:

  • Topic-modeling, Pattern Recognition
  • Clustering, association and regression analysis

Expertise and Skills Needed:

    • Data science, statistical analysis
    • Evaluate business requirements and translate them into specific data-related solutions
    • Consult with clients to identify requirements, conduct business and technical studies, and help design and implement business solutions
    • High attention to detail and strong organizational skills
    • Interest in impact measurement, macroeconomics, global development, and/or sustainability analysis is beneficial 

    For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

    1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects
    2. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform.