In this article published by the IISD SDG Knowledge Hub, Elisabeth Hege reviews the first four years of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals: supposed to constitute a universal, integrated and transformative agenda, have they effectively changed practices towards operationalising the concept of sustainable development?


With a few exceptions, SDGs have very rarely been used to challenge practices, and have not triggered the transformative project they promised. For the 2030 Agenda to become a real global roadmap and decision-making tool, and for it to help achieve the SDGs by 2030, it is necessary to go beyond declarations of intent, to put deeper change at the heart of complex and difficult debates. The Agenda provides guidance on the necessary trade-offs to develop national-level sustainable development pathways.

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Read also IDDRI's study: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: A first assessment and conditions for success