Issue 4: Towards integration at last? The Sustainable Development Goals as a network of targets
UN-DESA, 2015
In 2014, following a decision taken at the Rio+20 conference, UN Member States proposed a set
of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will succeed to the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs) as reference goals for the international development community for the period
2015-2030. This article explores the extent to which the structure of the proposed goals and
associated targets reflects the objective of integration across sectors. The proposed goals and
targets can be seen as a network, in which links among goals exist through targets that refer to
multiple goals. Using network analysis techniques, we show that some thematic areas covered by
the SDGs are well connected among one another. Other parts of the network have weaker
connections with the rest of the system. Our mapping also reveals some missing links among
goals, compared to what our knowledge of the biophysical, social and economic systems would

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United Nations