New tool helps policy-makers streamline climate action with Sustainable Development Goals

1pm, June 05th, 2018

A new tool – the SDG-Climate Action Nexus or ‘SCAN’ tool – supports policy-makers to identify the relationships between Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and explores ways of achieving multiple objectives in practice.

2015 was a breakthrough year for climate action and development, with the signing of the Paris Agreement and a global commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These challenging and comprehensive global agendas require fundamental rethinking of the way our economies operate and have led to renewed calls for greater integration and alignment between them. There is a clear consensus that achieving these development goals will not be possible without successful action on climate change, and vice versa.

Detailed studies have investigated how specific climate change mitigation and adaptation actions can impact the SDGs. However, few tools are available which highlight and point at potential linkages for practical use to help a diverse set of policymakers develop an initial understanding of where to prioritize actions, to maximize synergies, and understand trade-offs between potentially conflicting policy goals.

This report presents the SDG Climate Action Nexus (SCAN) tool, developed by ECN and NewClimate Institute in partnership with GIZ and Climate Analytics. The SCAN-tool identifies the linkages between specific climate actions and the sustainable development goals at the SDG target level, with separate tools for mitigation and adaptation.

The purpose of the SCAN tool is to provide initial, high-level guidance to policymakers on how specific mitigation actions can impact, either positively or negatively, achievement of the SDGs. Instead of taking countries’ NDCs as its starting point, the tool uses a taxonomy of mitigation actions and explores potential linkages between these actions and the SDGs at the target level (each of the 17 SDGs is made up of 3-10 targets; in total there are 169 targets). It covers mitigation actions across seven sectors (energy supply, transport, buildings, waste, industry, agriculture, forestry), as well as interventions that can be used across sectors.

Given the range of possible mitigation actions and the breadth of the SDG targets, comprehensively identifying linkages between the two is a complex and time-consuming task. The SCAN tool is intended to provide an initial, high-level indication of which SDGs and targets may be impacted by specific mitigation actions. In reality, the linkages are highly context-specific; national circumstances and other factors will greatly influence the magnitude and direction of any linkage. Policymakers will, therefore, need to undertake further research to understand which linkages apply and are most relevant to their situation. The SCAN-tool can be thought of as an initial step on such a journey. Ultimately, it is intended to help improve policy coherence and integration of the NDCs with national sustainable development goals.

The report goes on to explore the relationship between SDGs and NDCs from four different perspectives through contributions from the NDC Cluster working groups on financing, data and transparency, sector approaches, and political and institutional frameworks.

Download the report: May 2018 NDC Update Report: Linking NDCs and SDGs

Photo by: Deshan Tennekoon / World Bank

Institutions Involved

  • Ambition to Action
  • NewClimate Institute
  • ECN


Xander van Tilburg, James Rawlins, Jonna Luijten, Frauke Roeser, Sofia Gonzales-Zuñiga, Katharina Lütkehermöller and Sacha Minderhout
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