Climate change measures and sustainable development goals
Mapping synergies and trade-offs to guide multi-level decision-making

15-06-2021 | Rapport

Many measures to mitigate climate change (SDG 13) have an impact on achieving other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), often positive, but sometimes negative. This study shows how twenty promising climate mitigation measures affect the achievement of other SDGs for several world regions. This may affect the types of measures to focus on and provides the information necessary to maximise the co-benefits and manage the risks of climate change mitigation measures on other SDGs.

Predominantly positive effect of mitigation on other SDGs

There are significantly more synergies than trade-offs between climate change measures and other SDGs in all world regions. However, the magnitude of these synergies and trade-offs varies according to regional and socio-economic context. In North America, Europe, and Central and South America, the measures demonstrate only a few trade-offs. In Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, most of the measures could hinder efforts to reduce poverty, end hunger and improve well-being, if not complemented by policies to protect the poor from increasing food and energy prices.

Increasing the share of renewables shows largest benefits for other SDGs

Of the 20 mitigation measures analysed, increasing the share of renewable energy in power generation shows the most synergies with other SDGs in all world regions. However, the choice of technology is relevant. Most trade-offs were found for large hydropower dams, which could lead to displacement of local communities, and loss of natural forests and biodiversity.

Reducing land-use CO2 emissions positive for most SDGs, but may negatively affect poverty reduction

Reducing deforestation and increasing reforestation have strong synergies with biodiversity and environmental SDGs. However, in low-income regions, these measures have potential trade-offs with poverty alleviation and food security. To limit these impacts, the forestation measures could be complemented with policies that would strengthen the rights, capabilities and local decision-making on land and resources, credit programmes for small-scale farmers, and transfer payments to poor rural dwellers for ecosystem services.