About NDC-SDG Connections

NDC-SDG Connections is a joint initiative of the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). The research and visualisation project aims at illuminating synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, and at identifying entry points for coherent policies that promote just, sustainable and climate-smart development.

The objective of the NDC-SDG Connections is to: foster a dialogue on meaningful interaction between the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, globally and at the national level; to increase transparency with easy accessibility to all climate activities; and to cultivate learning and catalyse partnerships between countries and other actors to raise the ambition of future NDCs.

Background of NDC-SDG Connections

The 2030 Agenda was adopted unanimously in the UN General Assembly in September 2015, following a long consultative and participatory drafting process. Centering on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to be reached by 2030, the Agenda aims to eliminate poverty and bring about transformative change to set the world on a path to sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda recognises the fundamental interdependence of the social, economic and environmental dimensions of development. It calls for coherent, integrated implementation that takes into account the complex interlinkages between a wide range of development issues, cutting across traditionally separate policy areas.

Shortly after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, in December 2015, the UN Member States unanimously adopted the Paris Agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This agreement included a global commitment to limit the increase in global average temperature to “well below 2°C” compared to pre-industrial levels and to “pursue efforts” to limit the increase to 1.5°C. In this context, the parties agreed to achieve zero net emissions in the second half of the 21st century. The ratification conditions having been fulfilled, the Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016.

Both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement build on a ‘bottom-up’ process, meaning that countries identify and subsequently take action and report on their own climate and sustainable development priorities, needs and ambitions (see table 1). In line with the Paris Agreement, the parties design their own climate action strategies and commitments, which are set out in so-called nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Countries are expected to submit new NDCs every five years, making them successively more ambitious. In addition, countries were called to submit updates to their first submission before the second submissions, which are expected in 2025.

The NDC-SDG Connections tool was launched in 2017 including a mix of NDCs and of so called Intended NDCs (INDCs), depending on whether parties already ratified and made a first submission to the Paris Agreement or not, respectively. The first tool update in 2021 replaced most INDCs with recently submitted NDCs. In 2023, the tool was updated a second time with a new profile and a comparative element for 63 updated first NDC submissions. New NDCs are added continuously (see the ‘News and updates’ section for more information.)

Why this project?

Despite growing evidence demonstrating that climate action necessitates a transition addressing all dimensions of sustainability, the world is not on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda and governments are also lagging behind on the Paris Agreement goals. 

The SDGs and the Paris Agreement have some important things in common. Both are universal – in the sense that they demand action in all countries of the world, and that they seek to benefit everyone, including the most vulnerable and marginalised. They are both designed to be implemented from the bottom up, as countries set their own priorities and ambitions based on their needs and capacities. In addition, both have systems in place for increasing ambition, through iteration, and monitoring progress, through reviews and stocktakes (Table 1). At the same time, partnership – between countries, actors and sectors – is central to implementation of both.

Paris Agreement

2030 Agenda

Policy plans (forward-looking)

Nationally determined contributions (NDCs), submitted every 5 years from 2020 and updated in between

National Sustainable Development Strategies, typically revisited every few years

Systems for monitoring progress (backward-looking)

Enhanced transparency framework, Global Stocktake every 5 years from 2023

Reporting at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) through periodic Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs)

Table 1 Forward- and backward-looking components of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda

While greenhouse gas emissions reductions are a central piece of the NDCs, priorities and ambitions in areas such as climate adaptation and finance, as well as related actions in a range of other policy areas are also present. Like the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs, many NDCs recognise the importance of policy coherence and taking into account interlinkages between policy domains. As a result, many of the actions and priorities set out in the NDCs overlap with those defined by the SDGs.

For INDCs and first NDCs, as they were being drafted simultaneously, most were submitted before the SDGs were finalised. Thus, explicit references to the SDGs are scarce in the NDC texts. While there is slightly more explicit discussion on SDGs in the updated submissions, a global ambition to strengthen their interaction is missing, both globally and nationally.

By visualising the connections between the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, NDC-SDG Connections supports efforts to maximise synergies and minimise trade-offs between climate change and sustainable development. Improved policy coherence at the global level is a prerequisite for coherent implementation at the national level.

Finalist of the United Nations SDG Action Awards 2018

Sustainable Development Goals Action Awards

NDC-SDG Connections was one of the finalists of the United Nations SDG Action Awards 2018. The Awards are powered by the United Nations SDG Action Campaign, and recognise the most outstanding and innovative efforts to inspire action on the Sustainable Development Goals. Revise the Awards Ceremony and more during the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development which took place in Bonn, Germany (21-23 March 2018).