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Digital Society Initiative

SDG Research Scout

The SDG Research Scout infrastructure project uses cutting-edge NLP, AI, as well as interactive data visualization and analysis technology to identify content relevant to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in UZH’s scientific publications, making it easier for UZH members to engage with SDG-relevant research.

The primary goal of the SDG Research Scout is to provide interactive data science support for effective mapping and relevancy assessment of UZH scientific publications to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined by the United Nations. Examples of SDGs are «Clean Water and Sanitation», «Gender Equality», and «Responsible Consumption and Production».

Our system will help UZH researchers and sustainability experts to explore SDG-related publications interactively. The system will offer UZH members flexible and intelligent access to all UZH publications relevant to the SDGs and will serve as a pilot model for the combination of AI and sustainability research. Furthermore, the SDG-based classification labels generated by the system can be integrated into the UZH repositories to support publication discovery.

The SDG Research Scout workflow includes data collection, natural language processing (NLP), automatic publication-to-SDGs mapping, exploration, explanation, validation, labeling, and remodeling. Through these steps in the workflow, the system will iteratively improve its mappings through predictions, create a curated dataset with SDG labels, and ultimately enable users to efficiently explore and engage with SDG-relevant UZH publications. The project will be developed in milestones focusing on data collection and model training, as well as exploration and validation within the UZH Sustainability Team.

The infrastructure built and demonstrated within this project will support UZH-internal and -external stakeholders in accessing and making use of SDG-related UZH research results, aligning research with SDGs, discovering opportunities for interdisciplinary cooperation, and identifying research gaps. By building the SDG Research Scout, UZH will increase the contribution of its research towards achieving the targets of the UN Agenda 2030.

The SDG Research Scout is funded by the Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Higher Education Institutions (DIZH). Project partners include the Department of Informatics (IFI), the Department of Computational Linguistics (CL), and the UZH Sustainability Team, as well as the associated ZORA infrastructure of the University Library Zurich.


Project duration: 01.09.2023 – 28.02.2025

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Bernard


Project Team

Prof. Jürgen Bernard is DSI Professor and Head of the Interactive Visual Data Analysis Group, Department of Informatics (IFI), with expertise on human-in-the-loop data exploration and model explanation in complex and heterogeneous data and AI environments.

Prof. Martin Volk is Professor in the Departments of Computational Linguistics and Informatics (IFI). He and his colleague Dr. Simon Clematide will contribute expertise in Natural Language Processing, Text Mining, and Text Classification.

Dr. Simon Clematide and his colleague Prof. Martin Volk will contribute their expertise in Natural Language Processing, Text Mining and Text Classification.

Prof. Lorenz Hilty is Professor at the Department of Informatics (IFI) and Sustainability Delegate of UZH. He and the UZH Sustainability Team will contribute to exploration and validation.

Eduard Čuba is a Machine Learning Engineer and a Research Assistant at Prof. Bernard's group, with expertise in data processing and infrastructure for AI applications.