The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in their generalized form need to be further reflected in order to identify synergies and trade-offs between their (sub-)targets, and to apply them to concrete nations and regions. Explorative, qualitative cause and effect modeling could serve as a tool to add crucial factors and get a better understanding of the interrelations between the goals to come up with concrete measures and to cope with their obstacles. This model could serve as a template for a concrete application. The generalized model already points at some potential ambivalences as well as synergies that could be related to some latest theories and concepts from economics, transition research etc..
Its first analyses cautiously raise doubts that some possible assumptions behind the original sustainable development goals might overlook some systemic boundaries. For example an undifferentiated increase of productivity combined with planetary boundaries and the only myth of decoupling of growth from environmental impact and need for resources might be the wrong way.
The model has already more than 20 million feedback loops which shows how complex the reality behind the SDGs is. Most feedback loops are the result of some endogenous impacts that relate financing, media coverage, resistance from lobbyists etc. to the development of the SDGs.
https://www.know-why.net/model/CaLIsTKbVf7Yg5bm8yRXGyg discussed there and with an accompanying paper here: http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2017-82
This is just an example for an Insight Matrix that allows to analyze the model. It would be impossible without this kind of analysis to draw conclusions from all the different arguments and their interplay in order to identify effective measures or decisive hinderances.
However, without proper weighting of the connections to fit a concrete region or the whole planet it would be premature to interpret the results. The position on the horizontal axis allows to compare the effectiveness of factors. The position on the vertical axis just indicates how the effects will change when switching from short to medium to long term. The diameter allows to indicate for example the current state of a target, measure or obstacle.
This is an alternative view of the Insight Matrix showing just the values from the horizontal axis.
iMODELER allows to switch perspectives. Here you see the model from the perspective of target 12.2 showing just two levels of connections. It shows a contradiction between growth and less use of resources.
This perspective shows another contradiction as increase of trade of agricultural goods might shorten the supply to local markets.
On an aggregated level it might be possible to weight the interconnections with the whole world in mind. However, more practical would be to have a concrete region or nation in mind. Via the properties of an arrow we can choose weights compared with other incoming connections. As the SDGs speak of developed, developing, and least developed countries as well as small islands it might be practical to think of a concrete country for each type.
The model can, of course, be used to model the measures and obstacles for all SDGs of a country or region. But also it might be used for a detailed reflection of just one or a few of the SDGs or their targets. This screenshot shows still aggregated factors. We can now think of concrete targets that reduce the environmental impact and than continue what concrete could come from consumer side, what government can do, what would hinder government, etc..