Assessing progress towards sustainable development over space and time


Zhenci Xu; Sophia N. Chau; Xiuzhi Chen; Jian Zhang; Yingjie Li; Thomas Dietz; Jinyan Wang; Julie A. Winkler; Fan Fan; Baorong Huang; Shuxin Li; Shaohua Wu; Anna Herzberger; Ying Tang; Dequ Hong; Yunkai Li; Jianguo Liu 

Journal or Book Title: Nature

Volume/Issue: 577

Page Number(s): 74–78

Year Published: 2020


To address global challenges, 193 countries have committed to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Quantifying progress towards achieving the SDGs is essential to track global efforts towards sustainable development and guide policy development and implementation. However, systematic methods for assessing spatio-temporal progress towards achieving the SDGs are lacking. Here we develop and test systematic methods to quantify progress towards the 17 SDGs at national and subnational levels in China. Our analyses indicate that China’s SDG Index score (an aggregate score representing the overall performance towards achieving all 17 SDGs) increased 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.


Type of Publication: Journal Article

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