The Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development brought about a shift from legally binding emissions-mitigation targets for developed countries only, towards voluntary commitments for all.

This article uses a content analysis of countries’ climate activities in 164 nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement to explore the connections between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda at a global level, across all NDCs. It also analyses detailed connections at the level of targets under the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for a subset of six developing countries.

At the national level, focusing on developing countries that have not yet drafted a national sustainable development strategy (NSDS), and taking account of both overlaps and gaps, the article suggests ways to promote thematic coherence between both agendas and make use of this unique window of opportunity to draft NSDSs and update NDCs, making them more ambitious.

Among the key insights:

  • NDCs propose many activities that also contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Underlining the connection between NDCs and SDGs can strengthen buy-in among various stakeholder groups in society for more ambitious NDCs.
  • At the target level, energy efficiency (SDG 7), sustainable forest management (SDG 15), sustainable agriculture (SDG 2), sustainable transport systems (SDG 11) and water-use efficiency (SDG 6) are priority areas for thematic coherence between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda.
  • An assessment of thematic policy coherence between the voluntary domestic contributions regarding the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda should be integrated in national policy cycles for sustainable and climate policy-making to identify overlaps, gaps, mutual benefits and trade-offs in national policies.
  • The periodic updates of NDCs and the drafting of NSDSs should be used by countries to align their domestic contributions in order to implement the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda coherently. Our three-step linkage framework offers a method for this.