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NATURE -- Assessing progress towards sustainable development over space and time


January 3, 2020 - Author: , Sophia N. Chau, Xiuzhi Chen, Jian Zhang, , Thomas Dietz, Jinyan Wang, Julie A. Winkler, Fan Fan, Baorong Huang, , Shaohua Wu, , Ying Tang, Dequ Hong, &

NATURE -- Assessing progress towards sustainable development over space and time

DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1846-3

To address global challenges1–4, 193 countries have committed to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)5. Quantifying progress towards achieving the SDGs is essential to track global e orts towards sustainable development and guide policy development and implementation. However, there is no systematic spatio-temporal assessment that can measure progress towards achieving the SDGs. Here we developed systematic methods to quantify the SDGs at national and subnational levels. We examined the spatio-temporal dynamics of the 17 SDGs in China, the largest developing country. Our results indicate that China had an increasing SDG Index score (an aggregated score representing China’s overall performance towards achieving all 17 SDGs) at the national level from 2000 to 2015. Every province also increased its SDG Index score over this period. There were large spatio-temporal variations across regions. For example, eastern China had a higher SDG Index score than western China in the 2000s, and southern China had a higher SDG Index score than northern China in 2015. At the national level, the scores of 13 of the 17 SDGs improved over time, but the scores of four SDGs declined. This study suggests the need to track the spatio-temporal dynamics of progress towards SDGs at the global level and in other nations to uncover changes in sustainable development across multiple levels.



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