Exploring national pathways to achieve the SDGs in Australia and the Pacific




With Australia and countries in the Pacific now turning their attention to implementation of the SDGs, this new research explores integrated investment and policy pathways towards achieving the SDGs using advanced systems analysis and quantitative modelling tools.

Project implemented: Jan-Dec 2018

Project goal

The goal of the project is to explore how Australia and selected countries in the Pacific can best transition towards the full set of 17 SDGs by putting in place an integrated and coherent set of policy and investment options.

delivering on

why is this project important?

The project will enhance the evidence base for action on the SDGs in Australia, providing a credible assessment across all 17 SDGs of where Australia is heading and how we can best alter our trajectory to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

The 17 goals and 169 targets of the SDGs were conceived as an ‘indivisible whole’. The integrated nature of the SDGs means that progress towards each target is linked through complex feedbacks to other targets, resulting in synergies and trade-offs. The systems perspective as well as the long-run processes that are inherent in the SDGs present complex analytical problems for policymakers and analysts in terms of setting ambitious yet feasible target values, or determining optimal interventions to achieve multiple targets in a coherent framework.

A science-informed analysis of these complex interactions through quantitative modelling and simulation can support more coherent and effective decision making and planning responses to the SDGs.  A broad range of macroeconomic, systems-based and sectoral models are available to analysts. Our initial research surveyed a group of international modelling experts regarding the utility of different models for national SDG planning along with a comparative analysis of 80 different models.

The next stages of our research will apply an advanced macroeconomic system dynamics model (the iSDG model of the Millennium Institute) to explore Australia’s business as usual trajectory towards all 17 SDGs under different future scenarios, as well as investment and policy pathways that could accelerate Australia’s transition towards the SDGs.  The model will also bel applied to other selected countries in the Pacific region.

The model incorporates over 30 sectors across economic, social and environmental dimensions, including targets and indicators across all 17 SDGs. The model is being customized and calibrated with country data and refined to address national realities and priorities. Dynamic simulation modelling will be used to undertake a detailed investigation of critical interlinkages between priority targets, assess target feasibility, identify policy leverage points, and explore and evaluate policy and investment scenarios to achieve synergistic outcomes across a broad range of priority SDG targets.

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