New PEER Paper: The Yin and the Yang of the paths towards sustainability

Uncareful expansion of the renewable energy production systems risks to counter the goal to protect and restore ecosystems. At the same time increased food production to fulfil the zero hunger SDG may lead to biodiversity loss and water shortages.

Over the years, the IPCC has given increasing importance to the risk concept, promoting now an almost universal trefoil figure, where risks result from the intersection of three components: hazard, exposure and vulnerability. (Photo: Colorbox).

The United Nations 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define a path towards a sustainable future, but given that uncertainty characterises the outcomes of any SDG-related actions, risks in the implementation of the Agenda need to be addressed.

At the same time, most risk assessments are narrowed to sectoral approaches and do not refer to SDGs.

In a new paper from the scientists in the PEER TRISD Project in Ambio is analysed how SDGs and risks relate to each other’s in different communities.

The PEER TRISD Project have shown that as soon the mathematical definition of risks is broadened to embrace a more systemic perspective, acting to maintain socioenvironmental systems within their sustainability domain can be done by risk minimisation.

It is a paradox that the SDGs—as the outcome of political negotiations—rest on an assumption that all the goals can be reached, even though biophysical, economic and social trade-offs and side effects in implementing the goals may hamper their

overall achievement.

A comprehensive framework to assess and mitigate the risk of failure to achieve the goals, including those caused by neglecting the interlinkages among goals and other adverse effects such as political rebalancing  is critically lacking within the 2030 Agenda.