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The analysis of interlinkages between the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the assessment of countries' progress towards the goals are two prominent research areas in the debate around the 2030 Agenda. The central questions are whether countries are progressing towards the goals at sufficient speed, and whether the SDGs can be achieved in their entirety. While it is evident that trade-offs between the 2030 Agenda's objectives might prevent countries from achieving all 17 SDGs simultaneously, the extent to which interactions (synergies and trade-offs) between the goals facilitate or hinder countries' progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda has so far received little attention. The present study combines the two topics by linking the analysis of synergies and trade-offs between the SDGs in the European Union (EU) member states with a longitudinal assessment of these countries' progress towards the goals. SDG interlinkages are assessed through Spearman's rank order correlation, while progress is calculated according to Eurostat's progress measure. Using regression analysis, we find a significant negative relationship between countries' progress and the shares of trade-offs among SDG indicators and a moderate positive relationship between progress and synergies, suggesting that trade-offs have a bigger influence on the pace of countries' progress towards the goals than synergies. In order to achieve the SDGs by 2030, it is thus crucial to not only exploit synergies between the goals but also to overcome trade-offs.
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EUROSTAT Publications on EU policy initiatives and methodological assistance on indicators (2019-2022)
12/11/18 → 11/11/22