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Mapping synergies and trade-offs between energy and the Sustainable Development Goals


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—including 17 interconnected Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets—is a global plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. SDG7 calls for action to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Here we characterize synergies and trade-offs between efforts to achieve SDG7 and delivery of the 2030 Agenda as a whole. We identify 113 targets requiring actions to change energy systems, and published evidence of relationships between 143 targets (143 synergies, 65 trade-offs) and efforts to achieve SDG7. Synergies and trade-offs exist in three key domains, where decisions about SDG7 affect humanity’s ability to: realize aspirations of greater welfare and well-being; build physical and social infrastructures for sustainable development; and achieve sustainable management of the natural environment. There is an urgent need to better organize, connect and extend this evidence, to help all actors work together to achieve sustainable development.

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Fig. 1: Assessing interlinkages between energy systems and the 2030 Agenda.
Fig. 2: Interlinkages between energy systems the SDGs and targets.

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The authors would like to thank X. Lemaire, M. Shipworth, O. Adeoye and C. Huggins for their helpful comments. Also thanks to the Energy and Development group at UCL, which provided a platform for this work to be realized.

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Authors and Affiliations



F.F.N. coordinated inputs from other authors, designed and contributed to the expert elicitation process, and wrote the paper. J.T., B.M., L.S.T. and Y.M. designed and contributed to the expert elicitation process, and wrote the paper. I.B., P.P., M.B., A.B., C.S., V.C.B. and G.A. contributed to the peer-reviewed expert elicitation process, and writing sections of the paper.

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Correspondence to Francesco Fuso Nerini, Julia Tomei or Ben Milligan.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Table 1

Full results for answering questions (A) and (B), as summarized in Fig. 2

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Fuso Nerini, F., Tomei, J., To, L.S. et al. Mapping synergies and trade-offs between energy and the Sustainable Development Goals. Nat Energy 3, 10–15 (2018).

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