Måns Nilsson, Dave Griggs and Martin Visbeck present a simple way of rating relationships between the targets to highlight priorities for integrated policy.
Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015, the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development agenda represents a new coherent way of thinking about how issues as diverse as poverty, education and climate change fit together; it entwines economic, social and environmental targets in 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an 'indivisible whole'.
Implicit in the SDG logic is that the goals depend on each other — but no one has specified exactly how. International negotiations gloss over tricky trade-offs. Still, balancing interests and priorities is what policymakers do — and the need will surface when the goals are being implemented. If countries ignore the overlaps and simply start trying to tick off targets one by one, they risk perverse outcomes. If mutually reinforcing actions are taken and trade-offs minimized, the agenda will be able to deliver on its potential