Integration and diffusion in sustainable development goals: Learning from the past, looking into the future

Norichika Kanie, Naoya Abe, Masahiko Iguchi, Jue Yang, Ngeta Kabiri, Yuto Kitamura, Shunsuke Mangagi, Ikuho Miyazawa, Simon Olsen, Tomohiro Tasaki, Taro Yamamoto, Tetsuro Yoshida, Yuka Hayakawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


One of the next major challenges for research and policy on sustainability is setting the post-2015 Development Agenda. This challenge arises as a direct result of the formal ending of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 and as an outcome of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The post-2015 Development Agenda is expected to include two agendas: one on human well-being to advance the MDG targets and the other on planetary well-being, which requires a safe "operating space" within the Earth's life-support system. In contrast to the MDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are meant to apply to both developing and developed countries and create a space for development within the stable functioning of the Earth's systems. However, what might this all look like? For answers, this paper reviews the achievements and reflections of the MDGs to date and identifies new challenges entailed in the shift of development goals from "millennium" to "sustainable". While most of the existing studies look at these two sets of issues separately, combining the two reveals two important features of the SDGs. First, SDGs need to integrate both human and planetary well-being in a goal, and second, goals, or sub-goals, need to be formulated at multiple levels, from global to local levels. While the MDGs represented no integrated goals, some of the existing proposals on SDGs include integrated goals. However, our analysis has shown that they do not present the vertical diffusion of goals. Considering both integration and diffusion in the architecture of SDGs is a remaining task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1761-1775
Number of pages15
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Human well-being
  • Planetary well-being
  • Post-2015 development agenda
  • Sustainable development goals (SDGs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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