The methodologies for understanding the impact of economic activities on sustainable development are constantly developing and the number of articles written on the subject is increasing. One such article, by van Zanten and van Tulder (2020) was recently published in the International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology (link to open source article) under the title: Towards nexus-based governance: defining interactions between economic activities and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The fact that economic activities have both a positive and negative impact on sustainable development is well-known. We also know that the SDGs are entwined and interconnected. This means that if we manage to have a positive impact on one SDG, there is a strong likelihood that we affect another SDG positively – or negatively. What van Zanten and van Tulder explores in the article are positive and negative interactions between specific economic activities and the SDG targets, as well as implications for the governance of sustainable development.
Concluding their research based on a literature review of nearly 900 peer reviewed articles, the authors state that:
“[…] economic activities’ impacts on sustainable development must be managed in an integrated – nexus-based – manner that promotes co-benefits of economic activities on SDGs, and mitigates trade-offs.”
Furthermore, they conclude that:
“[…] this study showed that environmentally centered SDGs are among the biggest victims of the economic activities that companies undertake”
To achieve a more integrated (nexus) management of business impact on the SDGs, the authors highlight the role of the public sector, as well as the potentially beneficial interaction between business policy, public policy and innovation.
Let’s get to work!