Research Organizations Develop Tools, Software, to Help Prioritize SDG Actions
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The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia has released economic modeling software to help countries manage trade-offs between SDG targets.

IISD has developed a Sustainable Asset Valuation tool to demonstrate the value of investing in sustainable infrastructure.

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies has shared a tool for mapping SDG linkages.

3 August 2017: UN entities and research organizations have developed a range of tools and modeling software intended to help countries prioritize actions toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The tools provide ways to visualize data, compute the economic impacts of policies and assess the true cost of different kinds of infrastructure.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) has developed economic modeling software that can help countries manage trade-offs between various SDG targets. The software predicts the economic impacts of various policies and their potential contribution toward achieving specific SDG targets and indicators. A publication about the modeling software, titled ‘Prototype Model for Sustainable Development Goal simulation’, recommends the use of a quantitative modeling approach to SDG implementation to enable governments to balance various priorities. As examples, the authors note the impact that increased manufacturing could have on fossil fuel consumption, or the impact of increased social protection on public deficit burdens. They urge governments to be explicit about their priorities and to translate these into numbers. The publication serves as a technical manual for the software. Its user interface shows the SDGs as clickable icons, which can reveal the impacts of specific policies on those targets.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has developed a Sustainable Asset Valuation (SAVi) tool to demonstrate the value of investing in sustainable infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and power plants. The organization highlights that global infrastructure needs up to the year 2030 are estimated at US$90 trillion. The SAVi tool, a modeling approach, enables governments and other investors to calculate the ‘total value’ created by projects, taking into account its environmental, social and economic performance in the long term. This approach aims to help users avoid making decisions solely on short-term financial criteria. SAVi helps demonstrate the business case for sustainable infrastructure, including the avoided costs of things, such as pollution clean-up. The tool can assess how proposed infrastructure projects will contribute toward achieving the SDGs and the implementation of National Climate Change Adaptation Plans at the country level.

The IGES tool finds that some SDG targets are mutually reinforcing and other targets are negatively correlated, which requires planning and prioritization of areas where action is needed.

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) has developed a tool for mapping out the linkages between various SDG targets, with a view to enabling sound planning and prioritization of areas where action is needed. The approach uses Social Network Analysis (SNA) techniques to show which targets have a central role in the integrated SDGs package. IGES notes that some SDG targets are mutually reinforcing, whereas other targets are negatively correlated and therefore require policy choices to be made. The report and web tool enables users to identify their favored targets, based on understanding where there are potential synergies and trade-offs. IGES has used the approach to analyze SDG interlinkages for nine Asian countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, and Viet Nam. [ESCWA Press Release] [ESCWA Report on Prototype Model for Sustainable Development Goal simulation] [IISD Press Release] [SAVi Brochure] [IGES Report Web Page] [Sustainable Development Goals Interlinkages and Network Analysis] [IGES Press Release on Web Tool] [SDG Interlinkages and Data Visualisation Web Tool]

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