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The global Sustainable Development Goals challenge

Climate Exchange
Wednesday 29 March 2017, 13.00-14.00
Baines Wing (2.10)
Dr Viktoria Spaiser (UAF, School of Politics and International Studies)
Climate Exchange interdisciplinary seminar with LSSI


In 2015, the UN adopted a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also called Global Goals, to eradicate poverty, establish socioeconomic inclusion and protect the environment. Critical voices such as the International Council for Science (ICSU), however, have expressed concerns about the potential incompatibility of the SDGs, specifically the incompatibility of socio-economic development and environmental sustainability. I will present a recent paper, where we tested, quantified and modelled the alleged inconsistency of SDGs and showed which SDGs are consistent and which are conflicting. We also measured the extent of inconsistency and concluded that the SDG agenda will fail as a whole if we continue with business as usual. We further explored the nature of the inconsistencies using dynamical systems models, which revealed that the focus on economic growth and consumption as a means for development underlies the inconsistency. Our models finally showed that there are factors which can contribute to development (health programmes, government investment in education) on the one hand and ecological sustainability (renewable energy) on the other, without triggering the conflict between incompatible SDGs. I will conclude with an outlook for further research.

Read the paper





Viktoria Spaiser is a University Academic Fellow in Political Science Informatics at the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds. She is also affiliated with the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics. Before coming to Leeds, she was a visiting researcher in the Computational Social Science Research Group at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) in 2012 and a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Futures Studies Stockholm (2012-2014) and at the Department of Mathematics, Uppsala University in Sweden (2014-2015). In her research she applies mathematical and  computational approaches to social and political science research questions, with a focus on dynamical systems modelling, Bayesian statistics, data science approaches and agent based modelling. Viktoria Spaiser has been working on a wide range of topics, including political protest, democratisation, segregation and sustainable development, using various sources of data, such as register data, cross-country panel data and Twitter data.

Directions to venue: facing away from Parkinson steps, follow the path to your right then turn right underneath the link building, the Baines Wing is on your right. From the main entrance, go straight on past the front desk, turn right and first left. Take the lift or stairs to the second floor. Come out of the stairwell and turn left and then right. 2.10 is the first room on your right. Campus map