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UN Sustainable Development Goals

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How can research project impact be meaningfully related to the SDGs and their indicators?

Frequently, a project’s contribution to the SDGs is summarised as a tick-box exercise. This means that much of the project team’s contextual knowledge and assumptions about causal links remain implicit. This in turn risks reducing the ability to maximise the potential for a robust case for support and could also lead to much impact being lost in the translation between the global goals, expected project outcomes and contextual determinants of development impact.

There is an MS Team Space for the SDGs at Warwick. Staff and students at Warwick can access the space directly using this link.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. The 17 Goals were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which set out a 15-year plan to achieve the Goals.

Today, progress is being made in many places, but, overall, action to meet the Goals is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required. 2020 needs to usher in a decade of ambitious action to deliver the Goals by 2030. (

The SDGs are made up of 17 Goals. Each goal has a set of targets associated with it. There are also agreed indicators for measuring the SDGs.

The UN SDG web site presents the detail about the targets and indicators of each goal along with reports on progress and other useful information broken down by year. You need to click on the particular goal icon on the landing page to access the information.

The Sustainable Development Report 2020 presents the SDG Index and Dashboards for all UN member states and frames the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in terms of six broad transformations. It was prepared by teams of independent experts at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Stiftung. It has interactive dashboards that provide a visual representation of countries’ performance by SDGs. This can be filtered by SDG indicator.

Six Transformations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Jeffrey D. Sachs1, Guido Schmidt-Traub, Mariana Mazzucato, Dirk Messner, Nebojsa Nakicenovic and Johan Rockström

Nature Sustainability, September 2019

This is a widely cited article that presents a way of approaching the complexity of the SDGs by breaking them down in to six transformations that it describes as the modular building blocks for sustainability. The changes to social, economic and political activity, it suggests, will transform the use of resources, contributing towards the SDGs. There is a really useful section on implementation, and we were pleased to see a focus on stakeholder engagement and co-design.

In September 2020, Warwick launched its first report in to the Sustainable Development Goals. The report was a first milestone in a commitment to promote further engagement from the academic community and invite a broad and inclusive range of stakeholders to start a conversation about sustainable development. In November 2021, Warwick's SDG Advisory Group launched its second report on Warwick's contribution to the SDGs. The report highlighted that there was already a lot of excellent research at Warwick which addresses specific individual SDGs but that it was harder to identify research projects that explicitly targeted multiple, interconnected goals. The second report was an attempt to provide some inspiring examples of work which broadly adopts a nexus thinking approach.

Warwick's first SDG report - 2018/2019

Download SDG report 2019/2020