Barbier, E.B. and J.C. Burgess. 2021. Economics of the SDGs: Putting the Sustainable Development Goals into Practice. Palgrave Macmillan, London and New York. https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9783030786977
This is the first book that employs economics to develop and apply an analytical framework for assessing progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The authors explore the historical context for the underlying sustainability concept, develop an economics-based analytical framework for assessing progress towards the SDGs, and discuss the implications for sustainability policy and future research.
Economics is concerned with analysing the trade-offs in allocating scarce means to achieve various ends. Thus, economic methods are ideally suited to assessing how progress towards one or more SDGs may come at the expense of achieving other goals. Such interactions are inevitable in meeting the 2030 Agenda over the next decade, given that the SDGs include different economic, social, and environmental elements. Although it may be possible to make progress across all 17 goals by 2030, it is more likely that improvement toward all goals will be mixed. For example, we may have reduced poverty or hunger over recent years, but the way in which this progress has been achieved – e.g. through economic expansion and industrial growth – may have come at the cost in achieving some environmental or social goals. On the other hand, progress in reducing poverty is likely to go hand-in-hand with other important goals, such as eliminating hunger, improving clean water and sanitation, and ensuring good health and well-being.
Assessing these interactions is essential for guiding policy, so that countries and the international community can begin implementing the right set of environmental, social and economic policies to achieve more sustainable and inclusive global development.