Income-based variation in Sustainable Development Goal interaction networks

David Lusseau* (Corresponding Author), Francesca Mancini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are set to change the way we live, and aim to create, by 2030, a sustainable future balancing equitable prosperity within planetary boundaries. Human, economic and natural resources must be used in tandem to achieve the SDGs; therefore, acting to resolve one SDG can impair or improve our ability to meet others that may need these resources to be used in different ways. Trade-offs arising from these SDG interactions are a key hurdle for SDG implementation. We estimate the network of SDG interactions—the sustainome—using global time series of SDG indicators for countries with different income levels. We analyse the network architecture to determine the hurdles and opportunities to maximize SDG implementation through their interactions. The relative contributions of SDGs to global sustainable success differ by country income. They also differ depending on whether we consider SDG goals or targets. However, limiting climate change, reducing inequalities and responsible consumption are key hurdles to achieving 2030 goals across countries. Focusing on poverty alleviation and reducing inequalities will have compound positive effects on all SDGs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-247
Number of pages6
JournalNature Sustainability
Early online date4 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Data availability. All data used for these analyses is freely available from the World Bank SDG indicators via the website ( or the World Bank API.

Code availability. Code is available at

We thank the United Nations Department of Public Information for making the 17 SDG icons available, the World Bank for curating and collating the SDG indicator data and making them easily accessible, and A. Douglas for fruitful analytical discussions.


  • global goals
  • sustainable development goals
  • network science
  • sustainome
  • sustainomics
  • sustainability


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