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Journal Article

A systematic study of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) interactions


Pradhan,  Prajal
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Costa,  Luís
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Rybski,  Diego
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Lucht,  Wolfgang
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Kropp,  Jürgen P.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Pradhan, P., Costa, L., Rybski, D., Lucht, W., Kropp, J. P. (2017): A systematic study of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) interactions. - Earth's Future, 5, 11, 1169-1179.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_21920
Sustainable development goals (SDGs) have set the 2030 agenda to transform our world by tackling multiple challenges humankind is facing to ensure well‐being, economic prosperity, and environmental protection. In contrast to conventional development agendas focusing on a restricted set of dimensions, the SDGs provide a holistic and multidimensional view on development. Hence, interactions among the SDGs may cause diverging results. To analyze the SDG interactions we systematize the identification of synergies and trade‐offs using official SDG indicator data for 227 countries. A significant positive correlation between a pair of SDG indicators is classified as a synergy while a significant negative correlation is classified as a trade‐off . We rank synergies and trade‐offs between SDGs pairs on global and country scales in order to identify the most frequent SDG interactions. For a given SDG, positive correlations between indicator pairs were found to outweigh the negative ones in most countries. Among SDGs the positive and negative correlations between indicator pairs allowed for the identification of particular global patterns. SDG 1 (No poverty ) has synergetic relationship with most of the other goals, whereas SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production ) is the goal most commonly associated with trade‐offs. The attainment of the SDG agenda will greatly depend on whether the identified synergies among the goals can be leveraged. In addition, the highlighted trade‐offs, which constitute obstacles in achieving the SDGs, need to be negotiated and made structurally nonobstructive by deeper changes in the current strategies.