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Projection of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals onto the UN headquarters building

Sustainability, Climate and Energy

Sustainable development is about treating natural resources responsibly and protecting ecosystems without impeding economic and social development. Although this is a noble principle and political objective, there are often trade-offs.

In September 2015, the United Nations adopted a catalog of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which take account of interlinkages between the individual SDGs – but also contain conflicting targets and trade-offs. The same year, the negotiations on a new climate agreement (Paris Agreement) were successful. However, conflicts of interest hamper the search for political solutions, as clearly revealed by analyses of political processes in climate and energy policy. International interdependencies also mean that multilateral solutions have to be found at the international or regional level and then have to be implemented at the national and local levels, ideally with the involvement of all relevant political actors and societal stakeholders. This complex multilevel governance brings about many challenges.

In this dossier, SWP researchers examine developments and issues concerning sustainability, climate, and energy. They track international and European policy processes and discuss recommendations for action.