The agreement by 193 UN member states on 17 universal goals for sustainable development is a milestone in international efforts on the road to a more sustainable future for all. How do we ensure they are realized? The challenges of realizing the Agenda 2030 vision are unique to every country and actor. Implementation strategies for the goals and their 169 associated targets therefore need to be contextualized – which means interpreting the targets for a specific context and setting priorities for action. It also means that decision-makers need to understand how targets interact in that specific setting; how they influence each other; and how progress in one area determines progress in other areas. Policy-making that takes into account the interactions among targets has a much better chance of success.

The 17 SDGs have – as individual goals – been relatively successfully communicated to policy- and decision-makers, to business as well as to the global community. Now it is time to move to the next level of communication of Agenda 2030 and address the systemic aspects of the SDGs and the associated targets.

This project takes on that challenge and aims to push the frontier of science-policy communication in a highly relevant policy process for sustainability. We will develop a visual language that can elegantly and effectively communicate how different SDG targets interact in a specific context. The purpose is to support decision-makers tasked with planning for SDG action to understand and account for the systemic effects of how targets interact and thereby guide priority-setting, strategic planning and cross-sectoral partnership-building, to enhance the effectiveness of implementation strategies.

The project rests on an analysis of interactions in Sweden by SEI and the communication expertise of the team that created the now official visual identity for the Global Goals: The New Division by Trollbäck+company. The project has great potential to spur knowledge generation and uptake about the complex dynamics of SDG implementation, which governments all over the world are now grappling with.

The project will generate insights about interactions between targets in Sweden, helping Swedish decision-makers to identify which targets should be prioritized to maximize progress on the 17 SDGs overall.

Importantly, it will seek to communicate these complex interactions in a way that can inform practical planning and action, in Sweden and beyond.

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