Development does not take place in a vacuum: the steps we take to reach one goal can have significant implications for our other development ambitions.

The 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include many climate-related actions, and the national climate action plans (nationally determined contributions; NDCs) that set out countries’ individual commitments to achieve the Paris targets also cover development topics and actions that range far beyond a narrow interpretation of climate change mitigation or adaptation.

The new NDC-SDG Connections tool, developed by SEI and the German Development Institute (Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik; DIE), analyses and quantifies the points of connection between the NDCs and the SDGs (at the level of headline goals and individual targets). In doing so, it identifies potential points of synergy and opportunities for coordinated and coherent policy-making that can promote more effective and ambitious implementation of both agendas.

Key insights

  • Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement are mainly statements of the actions a country intends to take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but many indicate other priorities and ambitions that contribute to broader sustainable development.
  • The new NDC-SDG Connections tool can identify the most important overlaps and potential synergies between the NDCs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The strongest links between the NDCs and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are found in the areas of water, food and energy.

connecting climate action to SDGs tool screenshot descriptions

  • However, not all environmental SDGs are equally reflected in the NDC commitments. For example, there are four times fewer activities related to SDG 14: Life Below Water than to SDG 15: Life on Land.
  • The social SDGs are highly under-represented in NDC commitments compared to the environmental and economic goals; in particular health, education and gender equality (SDGs 3, 4 and 5, respectively).
  • The NDCs clearly reinforce the interlinked character of sustainable development. Several SDG themes (i.e. socio-economic sectoral categories) are addressed by numerous climate actions, indicating that there are multiple potential synergies and opportunities for policy coherence.

connecting climate action to SDGs tool linkages screenshot

Policy considerations

  • Policy-makers can use the NDC-SDG Connections tool to plan more coherent, coordinated implementation of the SDGs and climate action.
  • Synergies between the SDGs and climate action provide opportunities for more ambitious national imple- mentation of both agendas.
  • As well as synergies, the NDC-SDG Connections tool also reveals where links between the SDGs and NDC activities are currently weak. Countries could strengthen these links in the next round of NDCs.
  • While the NDC-SDG Connections tool reveals positive links between the 2030 Agenda and NDC commitments, trade-offs between the two also need to be taken into account when planning coordinated policy responses.

Read a policy brief about the tool»

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