What is Systems Change Lab?

Systems Change Lab is a collaborative initiative aiming to drive change at the pace and scale needed to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges: limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C, halting biodiversity loss and building a just and equitable economy. More information on Systems Change Lab can be found on our About page.

What are the objectives of Systems Change Lab?

Systems Change Lab has three main functions: 

  1. Monitor progress across each of the required shifts
  2. Learn and share the ingredients for transformational change
  3. Nudge and campaign to accelerate action where it is most needed
Who is the Systems Change Lab platform for?

Systems Change Lab is designed to be accessible for a wide range of users, especially to provide global leaders with data and insights to drive equitable systems change at scale. Some intended users include:

  • Policymakers and those working in international organizations.

    The platform helps decision-makers understand connections between systems and necessary shifts to achieve climate and nature goals, so that they can prioritize challenges and decide how to address them through policies, regulations, investments and other measures.

  • Philanthropy, government donors, private investors and multilateral banks.

    The platform helps funders and investors identify evidence-based opportunities to allocate their financial resources most effectively to create real-world change. 

  • Members of civil society organizations.

    The platform offers compelling evidence that activists and civil society organizations can use to make their case in their effort to influence policymakers, businesses and the public.

  • Academics, researchers and the general public.

    The platform provides anyone looking to learn more about systems change with educational context and knowledge about best approaches to building a better world for people and the planet.


How does Systems Change Lab engage and spur action around systems change?

We mobilize and equip decision-makers and coalitions with tools and information to accelerate action. Acting as a lighthouse for those working to address long-term structural challenges, Systems Change Lab highlights the ingredients for transformational change, explain what is and isn't working, and provide detailed analysis. By creating a single space where necessary systemic shifts can be tracked, we spotlight areas where we are lagging or advancing to drive real change. 


Can I download data?

Yes, all our downloadable data can be accessed on the shift pages by hovering over individual indicators. You can also download the full datasets on the Data Download page.

What data sources were used? 

Data sources can be viewed by clicking the information icon (i) next to each indicator. Direct links to original sources can be found in these pop-up windows. All of our downloadable data can also be accessed on the Data Download page.

How did you determine what to include on this platform and whether an indicator is on or off track?

You can read more about our methods in our technical note.

Why don't you report on whether an indicator is on track or off track by country?

We rely on global targets and most of our indicators do not have available national-level targets, especially for all countries. Development of national-level targets would need to consider a variety of equity principles, from historical responsibility to national capacity, and other criteria such as mitigation potential. Currently, we only track progress toward global targets. 

Do you provide data at the national or subnational level? 

Currently, Systems Change Lab provides data at the global level and national and subnational data where available. We will continue to expand the platform to include additional regional data when possible.

How often is the data updated?

Data is updated on a rolling annual basis, depending on when new data becomes available from our data partners. 

What should I do if I believe a dataset is inaccurate or that better data exists?

The data on Systems Change Lab comes from a variety of sources. Please read our technical note for more information on our methodology and review the original source for additional information before using Systems Change Lab data. If you have additional questions, email us at


What is systems change?

A system is made up of multiple interdependent, interacting elements that work together to generate a particular outcome — such as how we produce food, how we move around the world or how we power cities. Systems change refers to a fundamental, sustained shift or a series of smaller changes that, taken together, disrupt the status quo and lead to the formation of a new path. Learn more about systems change.

What is a system?

A system is a set of elements connected that are connected through a web of relationships. Together, these elements produce a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Systems exist at different scales and can be nested within other systems, such as an individual household within a neighborhood within a city within a country. A more detailed explanation of systems and systems thinking can be found on our systems change page.

What is a shift?

Shifts are the changes needed within our global systems in order to create a sustainable future for our society and the natural world. These shifts can alter the way a system functions — or even the purpose of the system — sometimes creating a new system entirely. Visit the shifts page for a list of shifts identified by Systems Change Lab.

What is a target?

For each of Systems Change Lab’s shifts, we have drawn from scientific literature to identify targets for 2030 and 2050 that are consistent with climate, biodiversity and equity objectives. Assessing how we are doing can inform the critical set of actions we must take to solve some of the world’s most urgent problems. See our technical note for more information.

What are enablers and barriers?

Understanding the underlying conditions that enable change and barriers that impede progress allows us to track progress toward achieving our targets. These indicators include innovation, regulations and incentives, strong institutions, leadership from change agents, and shifts in behavior and social norms. These signals of change can indicate where momentum is growing. See our technical note for more information.