Greater gains for Australia by tackling all SDGs but the last steps will be the most challenging

Cameron Allen, Graciela Metternicht, Thomas Wiedmann, Matteo Pedercini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) combine complex interlinkages, future uncertainty and transformational change. Recent studies highlight that trade-offs between SDG targets may undermine achievement of the goals. Significant gaps remain in scenario frameworks and modelling capabilities. We develop a novel approach nesting national SDG scenario modelling within the global Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, selecting Australia as a use case. The integrated SDG–Australia model is used to project four alternative scenarios that adopt different development approaches. Although we find that Australia is off-track to achieve the SDGs by 2030, considerable progress is possible by altering Australia’s development trajectory. A ‘Sustainability Transition’ scenario comprising a coherent set of policies and investments delivers rapid and balanced progress of 70% towards SDG targets by 2030, well ahead of the business-as-usual scenario (40%). A focus on economic growth, social inclusion or green economy in isolation foregoes opportunities for greater gains. However, future uncertainty and cascading risks could undermine progress, and closing the gap to 100% SDG achievement will be very challenging. This will require a shift from ‘transition’ to ‘transformation’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1050
Number of pages10
JournalNature Sustainability
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Cite this