The System View of the Sustainable Development Goals

10 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2018

Date Written: July 20, 2018


The 2030 UN Agenda provides a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Typically, SDGs are viewed as non-hierarchical, if not standalone, objectives. Our main aim is to try to represent the structure of multilayered relationships among the SDGs, where possible assigning influence links in order to configure a Systems Thinking view. We achieve that by sketching a Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) which allows drawing the multiple linkages on qualitative grounds disregarding the individual SDGs measurement issues. To close the system and conform it to quantitative analysis, we propose adding three other goals and using Systems Dynamics (SD) modeling analysis. Our approach is twofold. First, it is entirely deductive based on our a priori. Secondly, however, we draw references to the relevant literature to provide support to our initial conjectures.

Our main result is to confirm that SDGs constitute a highly-interconnected network. Therefore, though acknowledging that SDGs have been themselves a major step forward, we posit that considering their systemic interconnectedness will be indispensable to raise the chances of sustainability on planet earth.

Keywords: Sustainable, System Thinking, System Dynamics, Modelling, SDGs, 2030 UN Agenda

JEL Classification: F6, Q01, Q54, Q56

Suggested Citation

Ferri, Giovanni and Sedehi, Habib, The System View of the Sustainable Development Goals (July 20, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Giovanni Ferri (Contact Author)

LUMSA University ( email )

Via della Traspontina
Roma, Rome 00192


Habib Sedehi

LUMSA University ( email )

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