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A Critical Analysis of the Sustainable Development Goals

Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)

Abstract

The ambitious UN-adopted sustainable development goals (SDGs) have been criticized for being inconsistent, difficult to quantify, implement and monitor. Disparaging analysis suggests that there exists a potential inconsistency in the SDGs, particularly between the socio-economic development and the environmental sustainability goals. Critiques also raise questions on the measurability and monitoring of the broadly framed SDGs. The goals are non-binding, with each country being expected to create their own national or regional plans. Moreover, the source(s) and the extent of the financial resources and investments for the SDGs are ambiguous. This chapter quantifies and examines the inconsistencies of the SDGs. It further inspects which of the underlying social, economic or environmental pillars are that most effective for achieving sustainable development. Analyses of the data reveal that the developed countries need to remain focused on their social and environmental policies. The developing countries, on the other hand, are better off being focused on their economics and social policies in the short run, even though environmental policies remain significant for sustainable development.

Keywords

  • Sustainable development goals
  • Sustainable development incompatibility
  • Structural equation modelling
  • Factor analysis
  • UN data revolution

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Fig. 1

Source: Figure 3, Spaiser et al. (2016)

Fig. 2

Source: Adapted from Bali Swain and Wallentin (2017)

Notes

  1. 1.

    Variable Elimination Algorithm is a supervised feature selection machine learning method based on partial least square regression.

  2. 2.

    The GGKP report identifies five broad characteristics of IGG: Natural Assets; Resource Efficiency and Decoupling; Resilience and Risks; Economic Opportunities and Efforts; and Inclusiveness.

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Acknowledgements

I thankfully acknowledge the financial support from the Swedish Research Councils (Vetenskapsrådet and Formas).

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Correspondence to Ranjula Bali Swain .

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Swain, R.B. (2018). A Critical Analysis of the Sustainable Development Goals. In: Leal Filho, W. (eds) Handbook of Sustainability Science and Research. World Sustainability Series. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-63007-6_20

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