IIASA scientists contributed to a new UN report focusing on the importance and potential benefit from synergistic action with regard to climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report highlights potential knowledge barriers and major political and economic challenges and provides recommendations to address them. 

The report titled, Synergy Solutions for a World in Crisis: Tackling Climate and SDG Action Together, was launched on the margins of the UN SDG Summit, marking the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Climate Ambition Summit convened by the UN Secretary-General in support of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. These two critical global agendas are both far off-track.

The publication was co-convened by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) and was produced with the support of  IIASA. The report draws on the conclusions of other recent materials produced by the UN such as the UN Sustainable Development Report: Special Edition 2023, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report 2023, highlighting a need for urgent action, as well as a need for innovative methods of simultaneously dealing with developmental challenges and climate change.

Identifying and exploiting the synergies between climate action and the SDGs is crucial for achieving developmental and climate targets, both at the national level and globally,” notes Luis Gomez Echeverri, Emeritus Research Scholar at IIASA, who acted as a co-lead for the expert group working on the report. “Recent materials produced by the UN illustrate that progress on more than 50% of targets of the SDGs is insufficient and seeking win-win strategies addressing multiple challenges at the same time is the only way to correct the current course.”

Despite the abundance of data, tools, and methodologies, which could help to design potential strategies of simultaneously tackling climate and the SDGs, the report highlights the lack of a common, holistic approach that would be easily accessible to policymakers. The report stresses that the large majority of the information necessary to consolidate such an approach already exists, however, it is typically ‘hidden’ in the academic literature, across research institutions, government departments, or NGOs. The materials available also often lack direct relevance to policymakers or cannot be used due to its format or technical complexity.

The report provides an overview of available materials, including data, insights from experts in the field, and recommendations for the design and optimization of adaptive strategies focused on synergistic action across the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. This first edition acts as the basis for future iterations, which will entail a wider scope of thematic areas, as well as a narrower focus on specific issues pertaining to strengthening and operationalizing synergistic climate and SDG actions at regional, national, and global levels.

“The 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement together provide a clear vision for tackling today’s most pressing challenges. We must leverage all our means to advance joint action that will shape mutually reinforcing solutions to our environmental emergencies and developmental dilemmas,” said Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs in a UN statement following the launch of the report.


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