March 2021 – February 2023

Senegal and South Africa


The world is at risk, facing many crises from different nature, which all together are threatening to derail the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In order to stay on track, policy commitments need to translate faster into effective policy actions, sustainable financing needs to increase, governments capacities need to be boosted, innovative stakeholder engagement approaches promoted, and behaviours and mindsets need to match our ambitions for sustainability. There is, however, no one-size fits all, and transformations will need to be designed, directed and adapted to the country contexts, taking into consideration the development stage, socio-political context, unique needs and existing governance structures. One of such governance transformations involves the “localization” of the 2030 Agenda, to facilitate the endorsement and the engagement of the local and regional actors in the design and implementation of required sustainability transformations. This is key given the integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda and the need to break the policy silos and promote horizontal and vertical cooperation.

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© IRD - Vincent Chaplot


The SDG-pathfinding project aims to develop novel tools and capacities to understand and manage SDG interlinkages and support a sustainable development pathway for African countries that is adapted to local capacities and priorities. The project will pursue this goal by adopting a strongly inter-and trans-disciplinary approaches that will:

  • Analyze multi-level governance structures and path dependencies to identify impediments and enablers to sustainability and equity.
  • Develop and test an innovative, online and participatory SDG scenario policy tool to support the development of inclusive and bottom up narratives and transformation pathways encompassing the strategies and solutions needed to reach the SDG agenda.
  • Foster exchange and collective learning experiences to promote social learning and innovation on SDGs, and support the institutionalization of the sustainability agenda beyond the lifetime of the project.

© IRD - Jean-Jacques Lemasson

The   approach   will   be   tested   and   implemented   in   two archetypal   expressions   of   SDG-hotspots, i.e. regions where multiple SDG gaps intersect:

  • Iin Fimela district in Senegal and Swartkops catchment in South Africa. T, the cluster of SDGs that will be explored in Senegal includes: SDG1 (Poverty), SDG6 (Water), SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), SDG14 (Life Below Water), SDG 15 (Life on Land), SDG 17 (partnerships).
  • In Swartkops catchment in South Africa the focus will be placed on exploring interlinkages between SDG4 (Education), SDG3 (Health), SDG6 (Water), SDG13 (Climate), SDG15 (Life on Land).

Despite the different SDG clusters, SDG6 (water) and SDG15 (life on land) are overarching goals.

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© IRD - Alain Borgel



Scientific coordination: Barbara Willaarts, IIASA, Austria.



  • Belmont Forum "Transdisciplinary Research for Pathways to Sustainability (Pathways 2020)”.