As the world collaborates on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, good data are critical to our ability to set goals, generate plans and measure our collective progress. Yet, starting even with the simplest questions of where basic human needs are going, the world’s best data are highly fragmented, highly variable and challenging to navigate.

Introducing Project 8

A global, digital information community where people come together to share, compare, analyze and discuss data and perspectives on sustainable development and evolving human need.

What will it take to sustain a global population of 8 billion people?

  • Food


    How much food will China need to feed its population?

  • Energy


    How much energy will be needed in India?

  • Housing


    How much new housing will be needed in Brazil?

Those charged with planning for the world’s future must first understand future human need. Across both immediate aid programs and longer-term sustainable development solutions, our ability to close critical gaps rests in part on our collective ability to put high-quality metrics into the hands of the decision-makers.

Project 8 is a professional social network built around data

There is no silver bullet that will close the intelligence gap, nor one dataset that can provide all the answers. Instead, access and collaboration are fundamental.

We have prototyped a cloud-based, open data collaboration platform focused on sustainable development data and human needs perspectives, in particular. On one platform, users can contribute, find, visualize and discuss data with other researchers and practitioners around the world. Together, the community can increase the visibility and utility of existing data, identify data gaps and discuss new sources of information.

project 8 dashboard screenshotsalesforce dashboard screenshot 2

Insights from Project 8

Preparing for a World of 8 Billion: A Non-Zero-Sum Initiative

There is perhaps no greater and more enduring problem facing our world today than our ability to satisfy basic human needs for the world’s changing population. Our success in doing so depends on our ability to put high-quality metrics into the hands of decision-makers. Read More

Data for Sustainable Development: Collaboration Brings New Insights on Future Human Needs

The OECD forecasts a significant rise in global consumption of many commodities over the next decade. The organization anticipates that Asia will drive much of this growth with a few specific countries and commodities driving much of this change. Read More

Timed with a new Global Development Agenda

As the world rallies around the new Global Development Agenda, Project 8 is part of the data revolution necessary to achieve these goals. The project is being prototyped around Goal #2 “Zero Hunger,” but aims to support data collaboration across all 17 goals.

the global goals for sustainable development

“Achieving these goals… will require another significant incerease in the data and information that is available to individuals, governments, civil society, companies and international organizations to plan, monitor and be held accountable for their actions.”

The UN Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group
on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development

November 2014

Progress and Next Steps

Project 8 has been a collaborative, multi-stakeholder creation.

project timeline

In September 2015 we released a food security and agriculture-focused prototype and began to on board beta users.

With the Project 8 prototype live, we are focused primarily on delivering value to our beta users (request access here) and the communities they represent. Right now, we are:

  • Monitoring user activity and outcomes, evaluating whether users are generating useful knowledge for one another and their organizations
  • Iterating our design concept, being responsive to beta user feedback
  • Partnering with other organizations working in this space, to continue learning from them and collaborating for shared outcomes
  • Finalizing plans to scale the Project 8 platform from our initial prototype into a more open community—and to move beyond food and agriculture into other basic human needs such as energy and water
  • Developing capacity, working with organizations who want to play a leadership role in Project 8 through their time, talent and financial resources

The Power of Collaboration

Project 8 was created by the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General, the United Nations Foundation and The Demand Institute (jointly operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen). Nielsen’s support of Project 8 is part of its Data for Good efforts to share consumer insights and data with the world, including nonprofits and academic researchers, to make a difference.

The project is guided by an advisory group from the founding organizations:

  • Kathy Calvin, CEO of The United Nations Foundation
  • Mark Leiter, Chairman of The Demand Institute
  • Jon Spector, CEO of The Conference Board
  • David Calhoun, Director and Former CEO of Nielsen

The Project 8 prototype is powered by Salesforce, a leader in cloud-based analytics, with the generous implementation services and industry expertise of Accenture. Pro bono legal counsel comes from Baker & McKenzie and Davis Wright Tremaine. Thematic support for the food and agriculture prototype comes from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Food Security.

Project 8 is led by Sumair Sayani of The Demand Institute, on loan from Nielsen. Functional leadership and support comes from a talented team of professionals across our collaborating organizations.



Sumair Sayani, Vice President, Demand Institute and Nielsen, +1 416 568 0806
or Pratik Desai, Officer, Global Partnerships, UN Foundation, at +1 202 887 9040