NATURE SUSTAINABILITY -- Impacts of International Trade on Achieving Global Sustainable Development Goals


July 13, 2020 - <>, <>, Sophia N. Chau, <>, Canbing Li, Luwen Wan, <>, Liwei Zhang, <>, Min Gon Chung, <>

NATURE SUSTAINABILITY -- Impacts of International Trade on Achieving Global Sustainable Development Goals

DOI: 10.1038/s41893-020-0572-z

While the United Nations has proposed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to promote global sustainability and improve human well-being, little is known about the impacts of international trade on progress toward achieving these SDGs. Here we show that international trade positively affected global progress towards achieving seven environment-related SDGs. At the national level, international trade improved the SDG scores of most (70%) of the evaluated developed countries but reduced the SDG scores of over 60% of the evaluated developing countries. The SDG scores of developed countries were higher than those of developing countries when trade was accounted for, but those scores would be lower than developing countries were trade not a factor. Further, trade between distant countries contributed more to achieving these global SDGs than trade between adjacent countries. Compared to adjacent trade, distant trade was more beneficial for achieving SDGs in developed countries, but more negatively affected SDG scores in developing countries. We thus suggest that enhancing the accounting for and management of virtual resources embedded in trade is essential to better achieve and balance sustainable development for all.



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