About the project

The adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2015 offers a clear direction for transforming the way countries develop for the foreseeable future. For SDGs to guide the transition pathways, they will require indicators and tools for measuring, analysing and communicating the progress over time at both the international and national levels. To balance human development in multiple dimensions by achieving the SDGs requires a paradigm shift in policymaking from a siloed approach to an integrated approach.

Against this backdrop, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) has implemented a project on “Sustainable Development Goals Interlinkages and Indicators” since 2015. Initiated by IGES former Executive Director, Hideyuki Mori, the project focuses on SDG indicators and the analysis of the interlinkages between SDG targets. Actions taken in achieving one target may not only have an impact on its own but will also impact other targets attributable to the intrinsic nature of the interlinkages between the SDG targets. On the one hand, achieving one goal or target may contribute to achieving other goals or targets. For example, enhanced food security (Goal 2), full and productive employment and decent work (Goal 8) and reduction of inequalities (Goal 10) will reinforce poverty eradication (Goal 1). On the other hand, the pursuit of one objective may conflict with the achievement of another. For example, an increase in agricultural production to help end hunger (Goal 2) can result in an increase in water use for irrigation which may compete with water demand for achieving universal access to drinking water (Goal 6). Understanding the SDG interlinkages can support policy integration and help minimise conflicts, avoid trade-offs and seek synergies for making achievements inclusively across all 17 SDG areas.

This project aims to support policy integration in the processes of planning, institutional arrangement, implementation, and monitoring by providing a practical tool on the quantification and visualisation of the interlinkages between SDG targets. Main tasks include the following:

  • Develop a systems approach for the identification and quantification of SDG interlinkages;
  • Develop a web tool on the visualisation of SDG interlinkages which enables the communication among various stakeholders to support integrated SDG planning and implementation at the national and local levels;
  • Provide in-depth analyses on SDG priority setting by using network analysis techniques and other quantitative approaches;
  • Work with relevant policymakers at the national and local levels, as well as international organisations, to provide technical support on SDG planning, institutional and financial arrangement and monitoring from a interlinkages perspective.

The project identifies the causal relationships between relevant SDG targets through a comprehensive literature review, as well as expert opinions and stakeholders consultation in a couple of case studies related to specific topics (e.g. renewable energy, sustainable consumption and production, SDGs at the river basin scale and SDGs localisation, etc.) in some countries. The identified interlinkages are further quantified for the countries in Asia and Africa based on the statiscal analysis of the time-series data of the indicators for the SDG targets. Identification of the indicators is mainly based on the official indicators that are enlisted in the “Global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals and Targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (UN Statistical Commission, 2017). When specific data or indicators are not available, proxy indicators and their corresponding data from various sources (such as the World Bank’s World Development Indicators) are used. A web tool, SDG Interlinkages Analysis & Visualisation Tool, has been developed for users to visualise the interlinkages between targets and explore the data for monitoring SDGs progress.

Version 4.0 provides more user-friendly functions including options for users to save selections and add new targets. Work is ongoing to improve the methodology, indicators and data availability and quality. The tool will be updated on a regular basis to reflect the progress made in these areas.

The geographical coverage in this project – countries from Asia and Africa – is based on IGES’ expertise and relevant work in these countries.

Major outputs include:

SDG Interlinkages Analysis & Visualisation Tool

The SDG Interlinkages Analysis & Visualisation Tool and the analysis results can serve as a practical tool to support policy integration and coherence at the national as well as local levels in the following areas:

  • SDGs planning: To help priority-setting based on synergies and trade-offs analysis, and identification of strategic targets from an interlinkages perspective.
  • Institutional arrangements: To help review existing national institutional arrangements in implementing specific goals and targets, and provide recommendations for effective institutional arrangements based on a systems approach and the SDG interlinkages.
  • Accelerating SDGs implementation: To help identify country-specific challenges and opportunities for the acceleration of SDGs achievement through an assessment on the synergies and trade-offs.
  • Financial resource allocation: To support efficient budget allocation by jointly addressing areas with strong synergies to avoid overlapping investments and provide guidance on budget allocation to address the trade-offs in an effective way. This is particularly important for developing countries and least developed countries which face severe financial constraints.
  • Monitoring and reporting SDGs progress: To help generate a set of core indicators based on the interlinkages for the monitoring of the SDGs achievement and effective reporting.


Dr. Xin Zhou

Research Leader and Principal Policy Researcher
Integrated Sustainability Centre (ISC), IGES

Research Topics & Areas of Expertise
  • SDG interlinkages analysis
  • SDG indicators
  • Climate policy assessment
  • Green investment and green jobs assessment
  • Energy systems scenario analysis
  • Water-energy-food nexus study
  • International trade and the environment
  • Input-output analysis, life-cycle analysis, and resource flow analysis
Dr. Mustafa Moinuddin

Research Manager (Deputy Director for ISC)
Integrated Sustainability Centre (ISC), IGES

Research Topics & Areas of Expertise
  • SDG interlinkages analysis
  • Sustainable development and transition to a green economy
  • International trade and the environment
  • Regional cooperation and integration
  • Green jobs and labour market assessment
  • Energy trade and market integration