How the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) interact with each other is a key question in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Understanding these interactions is vital for prioritizing action and anticipating knock-on effects.

So far, analysis of interactions has been very basic, typically starting from one SDG, counting the number of interactions, and discussing synergies and trade-offs from the perspective of that issue area. This paper pushes back the frontier, presenting an approach to assessing interactions between SDG targets in a specific context, and how these interactions ripple through the larger system of targets.

Clusters of targets showing how they interact in Sweden.

It uses a typology for scoring interactions in a cross-impact matrix and then applies network analysis techniques to explore the data. By taking into account not just how one target interacts with another, but and how that interaction affects progress on still other targets (first-order and second-order interactions), the results provide a more robust basis for policy priorities.

The approach is tested on the case of Sweden to illustrate how priority setting, with the objective of enhancing progress on all 17 SDGs, might change if systemic impacts are fully understood.

Read the article (external link to journal – open access)