SDG Synergies tool developed by SEI with research input from Mistra Geopolitics

SDG Synergies tool developed by SEI with research input from Mistra Geopolitics. Graphic: SEI.

As part of UN follow-up and review mechanisms, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development encourages member states to conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels. These are called voluntary national reviews (VNRs) and serve as a basis for the regular reviews by the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) held each year in New York.

Sweden as a forerunner

This year, Sweden has volunteered to submit a VNR report to the UN. SEI and Mistra Geopolitics have provided methodological support utilizing the SDG Synergies tool , helping the government to systematically assess and analyse synergies and trade-offs in the national implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“No country has, hitherto and to my knowledge, performed a systemic analysis of progress on the SDGs to the UN High-level Political Forum. This analysis positions Sweden as a forerunner in the implementation of the SDGs and in doing so taking the words of 'an indivisible whole' seriously. This work delivers seminal analysis in the context of countries Voluntary National Reviews.”

— Henrik Carlsen, Deputy Programme Director of Mistra Geopolitics and Senior Research Fellow at SEI

UN High-level Political Forum

On 6 July 2021, on the margins of the HLPF, SEI and the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs organized a VNR Lab that brought researchers and policymakers together to reflect on experiences from adopting a systemic approach to the implementation and reporting of the SDGs.

The HLPF is the main UN platform on sustainable development and has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs  at the global level.

Quotes from VNR lab event on 6 July 2021

“It is a delicate balancing act to balance complexity and scientific rigor with transparency and stakeholder buy-in. ”

— Henrik Carlsen, Deputy Programme Director of Mistra Geopolitics and Senior Research Fellow at SEI

“We need to work more systematically to find the interlinkages of the SDGs – what are the strong synergies and the trade-offs – and how can we address them.”

— Mia Crawford, Deputy Director & Coordinator 2030 Agenda, Department of Global Agenda, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs

“It is so important to gain a multistakeholder approach to reaching SDGs. SGDs are not only a government agenda, they require each stakeholder to play an active part: civil society, the private sector and governments.”

— Adriana Cozma, Coordinator SDG Group, Technical Secretariat of Colombia’s SDG Commission, Colombian National Planning Department

“In Mongolia, we wanted to make policy more transparent and holistic and make it a very participative process. We organized workshops with academia, policymakers, the private sector, herders and farmers, which helped them to understand the many complex interlinkages and impacts across economic, social, and environmental policy interventions, and realize venues for new partnerships for SDGs.”

— Suzanna Sumkhuu, Director, Development Policy and Planning Division, Mongolia National Development Agency

More information

Read chapter 9 in the report published by the Swedish Government (in Swedish)

Read more about SDG Synergies tool

SDG Synergies: An approach for coherent 2030 Agenda implementation

Twitter: #Agenda2030 #SDGSynergies #SDGs

Text: Henrik Carlsen and Ylva Rylander

Want to share your experience?

We invite and welcome more examples of systematic approaches to the implementation and reporting of the SDGs. Please contact us to discuss your experiences.