Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement in 2015, researchers and practitioners have emphasized the need for policy coherence in implementing both together, to ensure that progress can be made on climate and development goals concurrently. To date, however, much of the research on SDG interactions has focused instead on identifying synergies and trade-offs among specific SDG sectors or geographic locations, and not across the two agendas globally.

The authors aim to fill this gap by providing a global-level analysis of how adding a boundary condition of a 1.5°C climate target impacts synergies and trade-offs among specific SDG targets. Utilizing a cross-impact matrix based on experts’ perceptions, we provide a global picture of whether progress on key development goals can be made while reducing emissions. We also identify SDG targets that conflict with each other when being implemented in a context that requires a reduction in climate-changing emissions.

In addition to the overall findings that interactions between key SDG targets are synergetic at the global level, when pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, their findings also show that broad achievement of the SDG targets in tandem with staying within 1.5°C of warming would have a strong positive influence on reducing inequality, vulnerability and poverty while increasing resilience and adaptive capacity globally. While the implication of our findings is that there are strong synergies between the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, more research is necessary to explore how these synergies are enforced in practice and whether trade-offs and goal conflicts manifest in different forms.

diagram of interacting SDGs, made by Adis Dzebo

Diagram of interacting SDGs. Credit: Adis Dzebo / SEI