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Research Areas



Nexus 1 – Food systems

Crop production and livestock husbandry are globally of tremendous importance for food security and nutrition, rural employment, and income generation. However, concerns regarding theirecological implications (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, land degradation, overgrazing), as well as genetically modified organisms and animal welfare have risen worldwide. SDGnexus Network examines potential synergies as well as trade-offs among SDGs with regard to crops and livestock, such as between SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and SDG 15 (Life on Land).

Nexus 2 – Water

Water is a vital resource for all forms of life on earth, and the use of this resource creates several synergies and trade-offs between a variety of SDGs. Hydropower generation, for example, will have positive effects on SDGs 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). However, it might cause adverse effects on the water quality and quantity downstream and affect SDGs 2 (Zero Hunger), 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 14 (Life below Water), and 15 (Life on Land). Nexus 2 (Water) particularly examines the spatial interactions of SDGs that have a close relation to waterincluding that of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems.

Nexus 3 – Urban & rural areas

A growing world population and demographic or socio-economic changes lead to a rapid growth of cities and involve a changing relationship between rural and urban areas. Urbanization itself has been considered as an important topic by SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities). Nevertheless, it is also closely related to other severe environmental, social, or economic challenges managed by other SDGs. The creation of a sustainable and healthy infrastructure for the provision of clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) or activities to combat climate change (SDG 13) and access to affordable and clean energy (SDG 7) affect cities in many ways. Likewise, the process of urbanization creates new challenges for food security (SDG 2) as cities are dependent on supply chains from rural areas. The depletion of arable land, rural depopulation of the young population, or the purchase of and speculation with arable land can be seen as problems that are closely related to urbanization and which can marginalize the rural population substantially. These developments cause a demand for governance and policies which take into account that problems of cities and rural regions are interrelated and can often only be managed effectively if they consider the demands of both territories appropriately.

Nexus 4 – Natural resources

The mining and consumption of raw materials such as fossil fuels and ores have shaped the earth for centuries. It sometimes led to booming economies and prosperous societies. However, especially in the Global South, often socio-economic stagnation (SDGs1, 2, 4, 5 and 10), political turmoil (SDG 16) and severe environmental degradation (SDGs14 and 15) are the consequence of resource-led development models. Today, many countries e.g., in Central Asia and Latin America, but also in the Middle East and Sub-Sahara Africa  continue to rely on the intensive use of such raw materials. Alternatives are offered by the bioeconomy that focuses on utilizing renewable sources. However, this kind of economy is also not free of debate shown by the conflict on food, feed, fiber, and fuel. This topic includes studies on the development pathways of societies that rely on fossil, mineral as well as renewable resources and the development of policy-relevant knowledge to foster economic diversification (SDG 8, 9 and 12).

Nexus 5 – SDG monitoring

Measuring and reporting 17 SDGs can be a tedious effort. Nevertheless, a comprehensive view on all SDGs, the analysis of correlations, and the assessment of functional relations among the different goalsand indicators, including indicators on gender related issues as a cross-cutting theme, is vital to get the bigger picture on sustainable development. Education and innovation on information and communication technologies (ICTs), as well as on big data analytics, are essential tools for successful SDG monitoring. Education and innovation in these fields proves to be critical to the generation of new knowledge and to better understand synergies and conflicts between the SDGs. It also strengthens the science-policy interface by enabling commitment of citizens and scientists in producing valuable information to support smarter, evidence-based policies. In addition to the analysis of temporal developments, spatial relationships and interactions of SDGs will also be examined within the core regions of the SDGnexus Network.