This paper maps out the relevance of the SDGs to foreign policy. Taking the six SDGs under review at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2018 as entry points, we analyse how progress on specific SDGs may support or undermine progress on foreign policy priorities, especially SDG 16: peace.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are unprecedented in their scope and ambition for human progress. By removing or mitigating many grievances that fuel conflict, progress on the SDGs can be a critical lever to build and sustain peace and stability worldwide. The transformative change they aim to bring about can also affect geopolitical dynamics, balances of power and interdependencies. Thus, progress on the SDGs has significant implications for foreign policy. In brief, core foreign policy priorities depend on SDG progress, and foreign policy makers also have a critical role to play in supporting implementation and managing the challenges associated with transformational change. Despite these critical stakes, the foreign policy dimensions of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda have not been sufficiently broached by foreign ministries to date.
For each SDG under review, we provide a detailed analysis under the annex section. We conclude with three steps for action through which foreign policy can better anticipate and steer the geopolitical implications of a sustainable transformation to minimise the risks and maximise the positive impacts on sustainable development.