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SDG Synergies

SDG Synergies is a practical tool for understanding how groups of policy areas and targets interact, using systems thinking. Designed by researchers at Stockholm Environment Institute originally to support governments in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG Synergies could be invaluable within and beyond the field of sustainability.


Last updated on 7 May 2021

Midiendo el progreso: El medio ambiente y los ODS

ODS. Gráfico: NU.

Making effective policy often means balancing sets of highly connected but very diverse targets. Striking the right balance can unlock synergies that bring multiple targets closer. The wrong one can see momentum lost, and progress on one target pushing others out of reach.

SDG Synergies helps you record, visualize and analyze how multiple targets are likely to interact in a given context. In doing so, it reveals deep patterns and relationships that would not be seen by simply looking at interactions between pairs of targets.

Based on a participatory, discussion-based scoring process, SDG Synergies develops a cross-impact matrix of interactions between all the targets being considered: how progress on one might affect progress on the other, and vice versa. With intuitive controls, it is then possible to regroup and rank these interactions to explore different aspects of the system.

Using advanced network analysis and visualization capabilities, SDG Synergies can surface more complex relationships, such as how the effects of one interaction could ripple through the larger system.

The visualizations and analyses can, for example, inform decisions about how to prioritize or sequence implementation of different targets, or how best to manage potential trade-offs between them. They can also help to identify what cross-sectoral collaborations would be most productive.

More about SDG Synergies

Every application of SDG Synergies is different, tailored to the context, the targets, and the resources available. 

SDG Synergies is invaluable for anyone who needs to make strategic decisions that involve multiple interacting targets and interests. To date, it has been used by national and regional governments around the world, universities, and more. But it could equally add value in the private and non-profit sectors. In 2016 SEI worked with the Swedish steel industry, applying a process building on the same basic methodology as SDG Synergies, to explore how the industry can maximize the value it brings to a more sustainable society over the coming decades.

The SDG Synergies tool will soon be available free to use at this website. Sign up below if you want to be notified when it comes online, and about webinars on the tool.

Ivonne Lobos Alva

Senior Expert Researcher

SEI Latin America

Linn Järnberg
Linn Järnberg

Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Nina Weitz
Nina Weitz

Team Leader: Global Goals and Systems; Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Efraim Hernández

Research Associate

SEI Latin America

Henrik Carlsen
Henrik Carlsen

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

David Purkey

Centre Director

SEI Latin America

Natalia Ortiz

Communications Officer


SEI Latin America

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