This report explores the nature of interlinkages between the SDGs. It is based on the premise that a science-informed analysis of interactions across SDG domains – which is currently lacking – can support more coherent and effective decision-making, and better facilitate follow up and monitoring of progress.

Understanding possible trade-offs as well as synergistic relations between the different SDGs is crucial for achieving long-lasting sustainable development outcomes. A key objective of the scoring approach described in the reportis to stimulate more science-policy dialogue on the importance of interactions, to provide a starting point for policy-makers and other stakeholders to set their priorities and implementation strategies, and to engage the policy community in further knowledge developments in this field.

SEI Research Director Måns Nilsson is both a co-editor of the report and lead author for the chapter “A framework for understanding Sustainable Development Goal interactions”.

Other chapters examine SDG interactions linked to Goal 2 (food security and nutrition), Goal 3 (health), Goal 7 (energy access) and Goal 14 (marine resources). These four SDGs are found to be mostly synergistic with the other SDGs; of 316 target-level interactions identified, 238 are judged positive, 66 negative, and 12 neutral. The most common interaction score allocated is +2 (“reinforcing”). While the analysis finds no fundamental incompatibilities between goals, it does identify some potential constraints and conditionalities that require coordinated policy interventions.

The report argues that the process of systematically identifying and scoring interactions across the 17 SDGs using a common terminology allows broad multi-disciplinary and multisectoral conversations, makes it possible to synthesize knowledge and to scope knowledge needs, and provides rational and concrete focal points (clusters of targets that need to be addressed together) for an integrated approach to implementation and monitoring.

The approach provides a basis for a science-policy dialogue on translating integrated science for the achievement of the SDGs. As a tool for policy coherence, it provides an understanding of the conflicts and synergies to be managed across government departments and sectors, understanding where theemphasis should be put for efficient and effective action, and identifies who needs to be brought to the table to achieve collective impacts across multiple interacting policy domains.

Access the report (external link to publisher’s website) »

Read the new SEI Working Paper by Måns Nilsson, Important Interactions among the Sustainable Development Goals Under Review at the High-Level Political Forum 2017 »