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Six Transformations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change call for deep transformations in every country that will require complementary actions by governments, civil society, science and business. Yet stakeholders lack a shared understanding of how the 17 SDGs can be operationalized. Drawing on earlier work by The World in 2050 initiative, we introduce six SDG Transformations as modular building-blocks of SDG achievement: (1) education, gender and inequality; (2) health, well-being and demography; (3) energy decarbonization and sustainable industry; (4) sustainable food, land, water and oceans; (5) sustainable cities and communities; and (6) digital revolution for sustainable development. Each Transformation identifies priority investments and regulatory challenges, calling for actions by well-defined parts of government working with business and civil society. Transformations may therefore be operationalized within the structures of government while respecting the strong interdependencies across the 17 SDGs. We also outline an action agenda for science to provide the knowledge required for designing, implementing and monitoring the SDG Transformations.

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Fig. 1: Six SDG Transformations.
Fig. 2: Contribution of each SDG Transformation towards the 17 SDGs.


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We thank S. Busch, G. Clarke, O. Gaffney, E. Kriegler, P. Kolp, J. Leininger, K. Riahi, S. van der Leeuw, D. van Vuuren and C. Zimm, who are co-authors of the TWI2050 Synthesis. D. Strüber provided research assistance.

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J.D.S. provided the initial idea for this paper. G.S.-T. coordinated the writing and prepared the Supplementary Information. All authors contributed to every phase of the study.

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Correspondence to Guido Schmidt-Traub.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Notes, Supplementary Figure 1, Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary References 1–171

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Sachs, J.D., Schmidt-Traub, G., Mazzucato, M. et al. Six Transformations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Nat Sustain 2, 805–814 (2019).

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