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Policy Coherence of the Sustainable Development Goals

A Natural Resource Perspective

image of Policy Coherence of the Sustainable Development Goals

This report examines the resource interlinkages and potential trade-offs in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It shows how and why the SDGs need to be pursued together, as a whole, if sustainable development is to be achieved. It also identifies the kinds of resource-related factors that decision-makers will need to take into account in formulating policies and actions for implementing the SDGs, that will need to bring about fundamental shifts in current production systems and consumption patterns.

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Challenges to the achievement of the SDGs

Current trends in population growth, lifestyle changes and economic activity are powerful drivers behind escalating resource use and related environmental degradation. In the next 20 years, more than 3 billion people are expected to enter the middle class (as measured by income levels and consumption patterns) in addition to the 1.8 billion today. These growing trends will greatly intensify the global extraction and use of resources, which based on current trends is expected to reach 140 billion tons annually by 2050 (three times the amount recorded for the year 2000) (UNEP, 2011). This will put enormous pressure on the Earth’s natural resources and environment, many of which are already showing serious signs of scarcity and stress at local, regional, and global levels. All the evidence suggests that climate change will further intensify this pressure, with the risk of triggering substantial changes to the biosphere that greatly reduce its ability to deliver goods and services essential to human well-being.

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