Sustainable Development Goals in Environmental Assessment: State-of-the-art

Research output: Book/ReportReportResearchpeer-review


The potential for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help promote sustainable development within environmental assessment (EA) has been a popularizing discussion in recent years and has also resulted in an interest in seeing them integrated into various stages of EA by EA practitioners. Although few, international cases in which the SDGs have been integrated into EA reporting of projects and plans are emerging. The purpose of this report is to summarize a review performed in autumn 2020 that explored the current status of the SDGs within EA reports and thereby:

• Determine the current status of SDGs in EA: The reports give an indication of to what extent the SDGs are being used within the scoping and reporting stage of the EA.

• Strengthen the understanding of potential SDG functions: The function of the SDGs can vary depending on how they are integrated into the EA process, and in this case, more specifically EA reporting.

• Consolidate international experience: The review shows that there are international efforts that integrate SDGs, but initiatives to consolidate and compare these attempts across EA reports are absent.

The review consists of a total of 45 environmental assessment (EA) reports, exhibiting an integration of SDGs, albeit to varying degrees. Geographically, these reports are spread internationally, but cover only reports written in
English, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian1. This document has divided the reports based on the function that the SDGs perform. The methodology for how relevant SDGs are identified or how they are used in EA processes is not
transparent nor does the review draw upon dialogues with those conducting the EAs. For this reason, the conclusions are solely interpretations based on how the SDGs are presented in reporting. This also means that the degree of influence that the SDGs may have had on project/plan development is not within the scope of this report.

This report is written in conjunction with the DREAMS project that seeks to promote progress on strengthening decision-support and the communication and assessment of impacts through the use of SDGs. The project aims to
provide a systematic approach for the SDGs to influence project/plan development and the corresponding decisionmaking processes. This implies an integration that raises ambition levels and brings a deeper understanding of
globally-binding sustainable development into EA practice. Details regarding the project and the tools for implementing SDGs can be accessed at
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDanish Centre for Environmental Assessment (DCEA), Aalborg University.
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-93541-24-5
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

The report is funded by Innovation Fund Denmark’s Grand
Solution program (Grant agreement number 0177-00021B


  • Environmental assessment
  • SDG


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