A fruit and vegetable market in Sri Lanka. Photo: Steve Coleman (Stevacek) / Getty Images .

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls on governments and other actors to pursue 17 Sutainable Development Goals (SDGs), divided into 169 targets. The SDGs constitute a highly integrated agenda, covering a broad range of policy areas that will inevitably interact with each other. The integrated nature of this agenda poses both challenges and opportunities for successful implementation. Attaining the goals and targets will largely depend on successfully tackling trade-offs and leveraging synergies. For SDG planning, policymaking and implementation, it is important to identify critical trade-offs and synergies in their specific context.

This report constitutes a knowledge base on critical SDG interactions in Sri Lanka. It aims to support more coherent implementation of the country’s sustainable development agenda. The results also provide input to support priority setting across different parts of the 2030 Agenda. The insights can inform new institutional arrangements, including cross-sectoral partnerships and collaborations that will be needed for more integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The report is the result of the project, “Mapping interactions between SDG targets”, which was initiated in 2017. The report and a related brief were created  through a collaborative process between the government of Sri Lanka, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Sri Lanka, the UNDP Regional Hub for the Asia Pacific, the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA), and Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). The processes that underpin the findings of the report involved stakeholders representing academia, the public sector, civil society, and UN agencies in Sri Lanka. SEI contributed methodological expertise, and SEI authors wrote the report using the information from all project partners and participants.

The study is one of the first applications of the SDG Synergies approach that covers interactions across all 17 SDGs, and that has been government led from the start. The report provides valuable insights for Sri Lanka, and potential lessons for representatives of other governments interested in applying a systemic approach to SDG implementation, and for researchers and practitioners interested in the methodology.

The report outlines the underlying process of and presents the results generated by the application of the SDG Synergies approach . SEI developed this approach for analysing interactions between SDG goals and targets in support of more coherent implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The work was financially supported by UNDP under the contract “Understanding SDG Interactions to Strengthen Vertical Policy Coherence and to Support Prioritization and Sequencing Country Level Pilot and ‘Tool Development’”.