Development of an SDG interlinkages analysis model at the river basin scale: a case study in the Luanhe river basin, China

X. Zhou, M. Moinuddin, F. Renaud, B. Barrett, J. Xu, Q. Liang, J. Zhao, X. Xia, L. Bosher, S. Huang, T. Hoey

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While the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are broadly framed with 17 goals, the goals and their targets inherently connect with each other forming a complex system. Actions supporting one goal may influence progress in other goals, either positively (synergies) or negatively (trade-offs). Effective managing the synergies and trade-offs is a prerequisite for ensuring policy coherence. This is particular relevant at the river basin scale where the implementation of national policies may generate inequalities at the sub-basin levels, such as the upstream and the downstream. In the existing literature, there is still a lack of methodologies to assess the SDG interlinkages and their differences at the subnational levels. This paper presents a methodology on the development of an SDG interlinkages analysis model at the basin scale and its application to a case study in China’s Luanhe River Basin (LRB). Seven broad areas, namely land use and land cover change, climate change, ecosystem services, flood risks, water sector, urbanisation, and energy, were set as the scope of study. Through a systematic review, key elements of the SDG interlinkages system were identified and their interactions were mapped. The resulting generic SDG interlinkages model were validated with expert survey and stakeholders’ consultation and tailored to the LRB. Quantification of the SDG interlinkages was conducted for 27 counties in the LRB and demonstrated by the results of 3 selected counties located in the upstream, midstream and downstream areas, respectively. The methodology and its applications can be used to support integrated water resource management in river basins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1405-1433
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number4
Early online date4 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Chengde County is located in the northeast of Hebei Province and in the midstream of the LRB. It has 23 townships, one sub-district and 378 administrative villages. The Luan River, Laoniu River and eight other rivers converge in the territory of Chengde County. Its GDP growth in 2020 was 4.5% (Chengde County Government, 2021). While the county has shown a high achievement in poverty eradication, it is also a target recipient of financial support from the provincial government towards reducing poverty. Its population has been dropping.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Luanhe River Basin
  • River basin
  • SDG interlinkages
  • SDG interlinkages analysis model
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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