As the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development approaches the halfway mark, no country is on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Importantly, countries are falling particularly short in efforts to reduce inequality (SDG 10 ). Instead, inequality is widening both within and between countries.

Similarly, progress to achieve the the Paris Agreement goals is not on track, as countries’ climate action plans (Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs) fall well short of the required commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resilience. The lack of collective progress raises questions not only about political will and ambition, but also how to enable fair and effective implementation going forward. Meanwhile, clear and increasing evidence shows that successful climate action needs to address all dimensions of sustainable development, and vice versa.

One important mechanism for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda is policy coherence – policy-making that encompasses multiple goals to increase synergy and reduce conflicts.

Our research so far confirms that potential goal conflicts or untapped synergies exist between climate action and sustainable development, which tends to lead to unequal outcomes. To date, ambitions to improve policy coherence at a rhetorical level have not translated into strategies and practices that advance climate goals and the SDGs without exacerbating inequality.


The core objective of this programme is to explore the causes and consequences of policy incoherence at the global, regional, national and sub-national levels with a specific focus on reducing inequality, and to what extent efforts that strive towards greater policy coherence lead to more or less inequality.

Particularly important is the national level, where the project aims to demonstrate examples of how countries can improve synergies between climate change and sustainable development, as well as how to tackle often unavoidable trade-offs, while leaving no one behind.

This programme includes a comparative study of nine country cases: Australia, Fiji, Colombia, Sweden, Germany, Kenya, Philippines, South Africa and Sri Lanka. We will also update the NDC-SDG Connections tool to visualize synergies between climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals to aid decision-makers implementing the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda at different levels.

Overall, we intend to provide critical insights and policy recommendations to inform the achievement of the SDGs and any post-2030 goals. In addition, we will provide recommendations for how countries’ climate policies can enable progress on both climate action and the SDGs without exacerbating inequality.


SEI team

Core partners team

  • Björn-Ola Linnér (LiU)
  • Sara Gottenhuber (LiU)
  • Maria Jernnäs (LiU
  • Mathias Fridahl (LiU)
  • Ines Dombrowsky (IDOS)
  • Alexia Faus Onbargi (IDOS)
  • Gabriela Iacobuţă (IDOS)
  • Tanja Beck (IDOS)
  • Marjanneke Vijge (UU)

Local partners team

  • Jonathan Pickering (University of Canberra)
  • Pierrick Chalaye (University of Canberra)
  • Priyatama Singh (University of Fiji)
  • Karin Fernando (CEPA)
  • Navam Niles (CEPA)
  • Shaneendra Amarasinghe (CEPA)
  • Minuri Perera (CEPA)
  • James Reeler (WWF – South Africa)
  • Caroline Gelderblom (WWF – South Africa)
  • Ruth Beukman (WWF – South Africa)
  • Cecilia Therese T. Guiao (University of Philippines)
  • Alaya de Leon (University of Philippines)
  • Tonee Bayhon (University of Philippines)
  • Vuj Justice Mabini (University of Philippines)