Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Six Transformations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
August 29, 2019
Cacti Graph
April 8, 2020

Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

TWI2050 – The World in 2050 (2018). Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Report prepared by the World in 2050 initiative. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria.

Coordinating Authors
Elmar Kriegler, Dirk Messner, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Keywan Riahi, Johan Rockström, Jeffrey Sachs,
Sander van der Leeuw, Detlef van Vuuren

The World in 2050 (TWI2050) initiative endeavors to demonstrate how the objectives of sustainable development within planetary boundaries can be met, ensuring prosperity, social inclusion, and good governance for all. TWI2050 is a global research initiative launched by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC).
The initiative brings together a network of more than 150 participants that includes leading policymakers, analysts, modelling and analytical teams from 60 organizations from around the world to collaborate in developing pathways toward sustainable futures and the policy frameworks needed for implementing the SDGs, and more importantly, for achieving the needed transformational change.

This report of the international TWI2050 scientific initiative was prepared by more than 60 authors and 20 organization and was launched at UN High-level Political Forum, 9-18 July 2018. It comprises key messages, synthesis and four chapters.

Chapter 1 introduced TWI2050 framework. The narrative and target spaces are presented briefly in Chapter 1 and will be further refined in the next phase of TWI2050 and published.
Chapter 2 examines, at the global scale, some major current trends in demography, economics, finance, society and politics. It presents potential major tipping points and dynamics that are likely to interact thereby creating a very different world from the present. It assesses currently observable megatrends and historical patterns with corresponding path dependencies. The chapter points to several of these megatrends that need to be taken into consideration how to achieve the transformation to sustainability.
Chapter 3 investigates the characteristics of pathways that would lead to sustainable future. It first assess the scientific literature on pathways that achieve several SDGs. Next, implications of the linkages across SDGs are highlighted by presenting model-based pathways which follow an integrated approach with special emphasis on the six transformations. Pathways are presented that feature SDGs under review at HLPF 2018 (SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12 and 15). The chapter concludes with a discussion of research implications.
Chapter 4 presents – from multiple perspectives – the governance framework required to achieve and steer transformations toward sustainability. This governance framework comprises of both fine tailored policy principles across the social, economic and political domains as well as enabling conditions for the great (societal) transformation that is needed to achieve the sustainability aspirations.

The main findings and conclusions of the four chapters are summarized in the Synthesis presented at the beginning of the report that also connects them to policy interventions.

Humanity is at crossroads. Unbounded growth is endangering planetary support systems and increasing inequalities, the rich are getting richer and the poor even poorer. The transformation towards sustainable futures is an alternative possibility for people and the planet – a just and equitable world for all. This is exactly what the United Nations 2030 Agenda (adopted on 27 September 2015) offers and is thus a great gift to humanity. It presents a new social contract with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is an aspirational and ambitious vision for the future betterment of humanity and it gives strong reasoning for fact-based understanding of the interrelationships and synergies among the SDGs.

The World in 2050 (TWI2050) was established by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) to provide scientific foundations for the 2030 Agenda. It is based on the voluntary and collaborative effort of more than 60 authors from about 20 institutions, and some 100 independent experts from academia, business, government, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations from all the regions of the world, who met three times at IIASA to develop pathways toward achieving the SDGs. Presentations of the TWI2050 approach and work have been shown at many international meetings including the United Nations Science, Technology and Innovation Forums and the United Nations High-level Political Forums. Two important meetings were held, one focusing on governance organized by the German Development Institute (DIE) in Bonn, Germany and the other on regional perspectives organized by the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) held in Kigali, Rwanda.

This report examines the current trends and dynamics that promote and jeopardize the achievement of the SDGs. It presents the TWI2050 framework, the integrated pathways which harness the synergies and multiple benefits across SDGs, and approaches to governing this sustainability transformation. TWI2050 identifies six exemplary transformations which will allow achieving the SDGs and long-term sustainability to 2050 and beyond:


Six major transformations

The report provides policy recommendations on how to achieve integrated pathways that implement these transformations. Eight key messages of the report:

  1. Transformation towards a sustainable future is possible but ambitious action is needed now!
  2. Six transformations that are necessary to achieve the SDGs!
  3. Attaining the SDGs in a resilient and lasting way, requires vigorous action now, and a people and planet focus beyond 2030!
  4. As everything is integrated in the connected world, the grand transformation requires a holistic perspective!
  5. Transformational change is needed but to succeed we must take along winners and losers!
  6.  The world is at crossroads as we are currently experiencing signs of a counter-transformation!
  7. A central element of the sustainability transformation is effective and inclusive governance!
  8. Think globally, act locally! Think long-term, act now! It is all a matter of scale!

Available at:
Link to report launch: July 12 at the High-level Political Forum 2018 in New York.