The 2030 Agenda and interactions between its goals

In 2015, the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (2030 Agenda) was adopted by the UN General Assembly (United Nations, 2015) encompassing 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) and 169 underlying targets that are universal, integrated and indivisible.

The integrated character of the agenda especially makes it a useful instrument to tackle the wide-ranging problems of modern society preventing the adaption of solutions in silos. The goals and targets are interlinked to consider existing synergies and trade-offs. Several systematic approaches have been developed to detect and assess these synergies, ranging from simple linguistic, literature and expert judgement approaches to quantitative and modelling approaches (Miola et al., 2019).

For the implementation, however, not all the methods might be equally suitable. They often reveal only past and present relations, hindering the development of novel solution strategies that might be able to break certain connections or create new ones. Moreover, to our knowledge, assessments so far have only been made to evaluate interactions between SDGs, targets and indicators. For the implementation, it seems essential to estimate the interactions of certain policy options with other goals and targets in order to gauge positive or negative effects.

Hence, I review the existing literature on methods to identify and evaluate SDG interactions, categorize the methods following (Miola et al., 2019), and assess them after certain criteria in order to develop or suggest a method suitable to estimate SDG interactions on a policy level.

SDG 15 as a framework for nature conservation in and an entry point to transformation in Austria

One of the greatest current challenges is the ongoing biodiversity loss, often referred to as the 6th mass extinction (Barnosky et al., 2011; Ceballos et al., 2015; Thomas, 2004). At the same time „the global environmental commons“ (including ecosystems) are identified as one of the entry points to the transformation needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda (Independent Group of Scientists appointed by the Secretary-General, 2019).

SDG 15 („Life on Land“) focuses on the protection, restoration, and sustainable use of terrestrial eco-systems as well as the halt of land degradation and biodiversity loss.

In the UniNEtZ, a network of scientists and artists from 19 partner institutions that was initiated in early 2019, policy options for Austrian decision makers are developed in order to achieve the SDGs. In the context of the UniNEtZ, our working group focusses on policy options for SDG 15. These options are characterized regarding their potential for transformation and tested for their interactions with the targets of the SDGs using the previously developed method (see above).

Biodiversity in Austria – What do we know?

The loss of biodiversity currently is one of the most challenging problems globally. At the moment more species than ever before are facing extinction. Extinction rates have risen at least 10 to hundred times from the level they had 10 million years ago (IPBES, 2019). In Germany, several studies underline this trend (Hallmann et al., 2017; Seibold et al., 2019). Little is known about biodiversity loss in Austria in terms of actual numbers and studies. However, single studies and red lists indicate a development that aligns with global trends. But these assessments often depend on expert estimations (Essl et al., 2002) or are pretty outdated (Niklfeld, 1999). Therefore, I plan to describe the current state of taxonomic research in Austria and identify knowledge gaps that are crucial to fill in order to be able to give informed statements about the biodiversity condition and suggestions for conservation.


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