Towards an Integrated Framework for SDGs: Ultimate and Enabling Goals for the Case of Energy

In Sustainability
Peer-reviewed Article

Discussions on how to define, design, and implement sustainable development goals (SDG) have taken center stage in the United Nations since the Rio+20 summit. Energy is one of the issues that enjoyed consensus, before and after Rio, as an important area for SDGs to address. Many proposals have been put forward on how SDGs should be formulated and what areas they should cover, but there have been few attempts to develop a generic integrated framework within which diverse areas can be accommodated and treated in a coherent way. The purpose of this paper is to develop such a framework for SDGs and to demonstrate its application by elaborating specific target areas for the energy sector. Based on a review and integration of global debates around SDG and energy, the framework puts human wellbeing at the center of the agenda, with the supporting resource base and global public goods forming additional tiers. A complementary set of enabling goals is suggested with four layers: capacity & knowledge, governance & institutions, public policy, and investment & finance. An energy SDG is elaborated to illustrate the application of the framework. The illustrative SDG architecture for energy includes eight target areas: basic energy access, energy for economic development, sufficiency, renewable supply, efficiency, infrastructure, greenhouse gas emissions and security. These target areas are relevant for energy for all countries, but depending on national circumstances such as levels of development, the relative emphasis will be different between countries, and over time.

Mans Nilssen, Paul Lucas