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Greater Gains for Countries on the SDGs by Addressing All Goals Together

Achieving the SDGs requires deep, deliberate structural changes in resource use, infrastructure, institutions technologies, consumption patterns and social relations over a relatively short period of time. Delivering such transformations is unprecedented in human history.

To add to the challenge, the 2030 Agenda says very little about implementation. Supporting decision makers in government, business and civil society to operationalise the goals will be a critical. Of concern is that the comprehensive scope and inherent tensions and trade-offs between the 169 SDG targets will undermine their achievability. Many of our planning, programming and policy decisions are undertaken at the sectoral level in silos. An integrated systems approach is needed to understand and manage these tensions and leverage potential co-benefits or synergies.

It’s clear that the SDGs will not be achieved using the same conventional approaches used in the past. Building the evidence-base on the transitions needed to attain the SDGs is a key area where science and transdisciplinary research can make a tangible contribution. 

The new research published this week in Nature Sustainability "Greater gains for Australia by tackling all SDGs but the last steps will be the most challenging" explores how countries can accelerate national progress on the SDGs using a coherent set of policies and investments, with a focus on Australia. The authors chose Australia as a use case of a wealthy, advanced economy with mixed performance on the SDGs, and comparatively poor performance on global SDG rankings when compared with other OECD countries.

The authors formulated a set of four alternative scenarios on how Australia could develop through until 2030: an Australia that is fairer, greener, neither, or both. We also ran a ‘business-as-usual’ (BAU) scenario leaving existing policy settings intact to set a baseline for comparison. For each scenario, they adopted a different set of policy and investment settings, particularly around tax and subsidies, government expenditure and private investment.

Read further from IISDThis article was authored by Cameron Allen, Graciela Metternicht, Thomas Wiedmann, Matteo Pedercini

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