ICSU Presents Research on SDG Interactions
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The ICSU publication titled 'A Guide to SDG Interactions: From Science to Implementation' is based on the work of a consortium of scientific research organizations that applied a seven-point scale to quantify synergies and conflicts among the SDGs and their targets.

Further work using this scale could evaluate the interactions among SDGs and targets in the context of specific countries and localities, to incorporate information about directionality, location, governance, technology and time frames into assessments.

12 July 2017: The International Council for Science (ICSU) organized a side event at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) to present its recently launched publication, titled ‘A Guide to SDG Interactions: From Science to Implementation.’

The publication is based on the work of a consortium of scientific research organizations that applied a seven-point scale to quantify synergies and conflicts among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their targets. The scale ranges from +3 (goal or target is very reinforcing of others) to -3 (goals and targets conflict with each other). A score of 0 indicates neutral interaction. The report includes an initial examination of four goals and their underlying 36 targets: zero hunger (SDG 2), good health and well-being (SDG 3), affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), and life below water (SDG 14). The report was initially launched during the second annual Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum).

Heide Hackmann, Executive Director, International Council for Science, moderated the side event. David McCollum, Research Scholar Energy Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), presented the research approach and findings. McCollum indicated that the seven point scale provides a structure for dialogue about the interactions among the SDGs, and has also helped to identify gaps in existing research about interactions between specific targets.

The seven point scale provides a structure for dialogue and has helped identify gaps in existing research on interactions between specific targets.

A representative from Colombia’s National Statistical Office discussed national efforts to map connections among the SDGs, and said the process was useful for identifying targets that have the greatest interaction and those that are the most sensitive to other targets, both of which may have a large impact on other targets.

Participants highlighted the challenge, and value, of developing a methodology to assess policy coherence, capture interactions to measure progress, and track progress and trends. In this regard, the ICSU publication has the potential to help stakeholders prioritize resources. Others suggested expanding the research to evaluate interactions between the targets within a single goal.

Claudia Ringler, Deputy Division Director of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Environment and Production Technology Division, noted the need to evaluate the interactions among SDGs and targets in the context of specific countries and localities to incorporate information about directionality, location, governance, technology and time frames into the assessments.

The publication recommends to: convene people from a wide range of expertise to identify interactions among the SDGs and targets in each country; map existing institutions and actors to assess a country’s potential to meet the SDGs; enact change so that the achievement of SDGs can happen across sectors; and apply a similar integrated perspective to monitoring, evaluation and review as a country works toward achieving the SDGs. [ICSU side event webpage] [Publication: A Guide to SDG Interactions: From Science to Implementation][Guest Article: Focus on Interactions to Make the SDGs a Success: Our Key Messages for the Ocean Conference] [IISD Sources]


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