A first point made by the report may seem obvious but is worth saying again : SDGs are all interconnected. The figure that opens this post gives a summary of these interconnections, and here is what the report says about them.
“Co-benefits, trade-offs and tough choices are at the heart of sustainable development but have not always been appreciated as such. Initial interpretations that emphasized three distinct dimensions of sustainability – economic, environmental and social – tended to reinforce decision-making in thematic silos. The result, typically, was to prioritize immediate economic benefits over social and environmental costs that would materialize over the longer term. However, such an approach also continually deferred consideration of the difficult choices that needed to be made – indeed, the very usefulness of the concept of sustainable development came under question.
The present Report strives to address this head-on by adopting a systemic approach to the Sustainable Development Goals, informed by the knowledge ofthe interactions among them. In this way, it identifies the biggest transformative potentials of the 2030 Agenda, not through the pursuit of individual Goals and targets but rather by explicitly considering their interlinkages and resultant co-benefits and trade-offs.
In an increasingly globalized and hyper-connected world, any intervention on behalf of just one Goal can lead to unintended consequences for the achievement of other Goals nearby or faraway, today or tomorrow. Conversely, the chances of progress on one Goal in a specific part of the world will depend on interventions made in other sectors, in sometimes distant places. Those interactions often imply trade-offs, but also give rise to co-benefits and the significant potential for transformations towards sustainable development.
The key to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda thus lies in leveraging interactions among the Sustainable Development Goals away from tradeoffs and towards co-benefits, from vicious to virtuous circles.”