In combination, policies for sustainable development can work together and synergize. In so doing, the resulting impact of a strategic policy mix can be greater than the sum of the individual policies of its individual parts. That synergetic potential can be utilized to attain strategic objectives. This is the case when it comes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. However, identifying and quantifying these synergetic interactions is infeasible with traditional approaches to policy analysis.
In this paper we present a method for identifying these interactions and assessing them quantitatively. We also introduce a typology of five classes of synergy that enables an understanding of their structures. We operationalize the typology by the use of pilot studies of SDG strategies undertaken in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, and Malawi. In the pilots, the Integrated Sustainable Development Goal (iSDG) model was used to simulate the effects of policies over the SDG time horizon. In each case, synergetic interactions contribute to potential SDG attainment. We estimate the value of these interactions to be 2.8% of GDP for Côte d’Ivoire, 4.4% for Malawi, and 0.7% for Senegal.
We conclude that enhanced understanding of synergies in sustainable development planning can contribute to progress on the SDGs – and set free substantial amounts of resources.
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