An integrated framework for Sustainable Development Goals

News |

New research published in Ecology and Society indicates that it may be possible to develop integrated targets relating to food, energy and water for the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, which will be agreed at the UN General Assembly in 2015.


The United Nations (UN) Rio+20 summit committed nations to develop a set of universal sustainable development goals (SDGs) to build on the millennium development goals (MDGs) set to expire in 2015.

Research now indicates that humanity’s impact on Earth’s life support system is so great that further global environmental change risks undermining long-term prosperity and poverty eradication goals.

Socioeconomic development and global sustainability are often posed as being in conflict because of trade-offs between a growing world population, as well as higher standards of living, and managing the effects of production and consumption on the global environment.

We have established a framework for an evidence-based architecture for new goals and targets. Building on six SDGs, which integrate development and environmental considerations, we developed a comprehensive framework of goals and associated targets, which demonstrate that it is possible, and necessary, to develop integrated targets relating to food, energy, water, and ecosystem services goals; thus providing a neutral evidence-based approach to support SDG target discussions.

Global analyses, using an integrated global target equation, are close to providing indicators for these targets. Alongside development-only targets and environment-only targets, these integrated targets would ensure that synergies are maximized and trade-offs are managed in the implementation of SDGs.


Griggs, D., M. Stafford Smith, J. Rockström, M. C. Öhman, O. Gaffney, G. Glaser, N. Kanie, I. Noble, W. Steffen, and P. Shyamsundar. 2014. An integrated framework for sustainable development goals. Ecology and Society 19(4): 49. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07082-190449

See also an earlier commentary in Nature: Sustainable Development Goals for People and Planet (2013). http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v495/n7441/full/495305a.html

UN Open Working Group final report on Sustainable Development Goals.

The Road to Dignity (Draft resolution submitted by the President of the General Assembly) December 2014.