Sustainable development goals (SDGs) and integration: achieving a better balance between the economic, social and environmental dimensions
In a study commissioned by the German Council for Sustainable Development, Stakeholder Forum has examined integration in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and put forward stakeholder proposals which could be used to improve the balance of the three dimensions of sustainable development within the goals.
The SDGs currently under negotiation at the United Nations under the post-2015 development agenda are intended to guide priorities both for the development needed in the developing countries and for the sustainability transition needed throughout the world over the next 15 years.
Among other requirements, it has been mandated that the goals should achieve an appropriate balance between the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
The draft set of SDGs presented in the final report of the United Nation’s Open Working Group (OWG) include most of the highest priority objectives of the world’s economic, social and environmental agendas and in that sense achieves a degree of balance. The individual goals are not, however, so well balanced within themselves. Some are clearly primarily economic goals, others social and some environmental. Within the targets under each goal there is some attempt to include elements reflecting the other dimensions, but this has so far only achieved a partial integration of the three dimensions within each area.
This is a serious shortcoming since the objective must be to encourage a more integrated approach within each area and each subject community.
This paper aims to contribute to the discussions on the integration and balance of the three dimensions of sustainable development within the SDGs framework by:
- Highlighting some key observations about the balance of the social, environmental and economic dimensions in the goals that have been proposed by the OWG;
- Putting forward some stakeholder proposals for amendments or additions to the framework which could be used to improve the balance of the dimensions in the current proposal;
- Identifying interlinkages between the current proposed goals and targets. These interlinkages provide an indication of the integration of the three dimensions in the framework and can be a tool for users of the SDGs to identify key areas of reinforcement and alignment within the framework.
The paper provides government representatives and other stakeholders with options for building upon the proposed SDGs and achieving better balance of the three dimensions of sustainable development within the goals. Furthermore, it aims to ensure that innovative stakeholder recommendations for SDGs and associated targets, based upon experience and expertise, are considered during efforts to develop and build consensus on a global SDGs framework as part of the post-2015 development agenda.