The Economy–Environment Nexus: Sustainable Development Goals Interlinkages in Austria

Patricia Urban, Markus Hametner

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


As an “integrated” agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) acknowledge the interwoven nature of social and ecological systems. However, trade-offs between socio-economic activities and environmental preservation put the implementation of the SDGs at risk. The purpose of the present study is to uncover such trade-offs, by analysing interlinkages between economic and environmental SDGs in the Austrian context. We applied a mixed-methods approach, combining Spearman’s correlation analysis with expert judgement. Our results reveal that increasing gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (SDG 8) in Austria is accompanied by rising material consumption (SDG 12) and environmental pressures from agricultural production (SDG 2), which in turn has an impact on land ecosystems (SDG 15). We also detect synergies within the economy–environment nexus, such as of protected areas (SDG 15) and organic farming (SDG 2) with water quality (SDG 6). We conclude that in the face of climate change and ecological degradation, decision-makers need to take into account interlinkages between economic and environmental SDGs. When economic aspirations are in contrast with the preservation of the ecological foundations our societies depend upon, it is crucial that environmental goals receive more attention than they previously have.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12281
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2022

Cite this