Strengthening the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

Project description

Title: Strengthening the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) 
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2018 to 2020


In August 2012, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was established under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The academic networks address the issues of the sustainable development policy and provide advice to the UN and other international stakeholders. They also develop solution-led approaches in cooperation with stakeholders from the UN, private sector and civil society to implement the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in specific pilot projects. SDSN currently comprises a large number of regional, national and thematic networks and aims to promote expertise for practical solutions for sustainable development at national, regional and global level


Through SDSN, science increasingly contributes to global debates and integrated, cross-sectoral approaches for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, particularly on matters of global responsibility.


The project advises the SDSN secretariat and southern networks and contributes to sustainable development at national, regional and global level. To achieve this, the project operates in five areas of activity:

  • Supporting the southern networks in their goals and ways of working through the provision of methodological procedures and direct advice.
  • Organisational development in strengthening the global SDSN in network development.
  • Cross-sectoral approaches for implementing the 2030 Agenda in relation to interactions and synergies between the SDGs.
  • Quantitative reports and methodological development of global responsibility, especially the global footprint, in documenting environmental and socio-economic spillover effects and their impacts on achieving the SDGs.
  • Practice-oriented solutions developed by SDSN.


Six years after its founding, SDSN has established itself as a serious global knowledge network with the aim of shaping social policy and has been successful thanks to German support. Financing for the SDSN secretariat and the establishment and consolidation of regional and national network structures, above all, have made an important contribution to stabilisation, operational capability, and the development and expansion of the network. Since funding began in September 2013, the number of network members has risen from 81 to over 700, whilst the number of networks has increased to 16 national and 10 regional.

In addition, SDSN plays a key role in the debate on the SDG sub-objectives and indicators. The SDG Index and Dashboards Report, published annually since 2016 by SDSN and the Bertelsmann Stiftung, also attracts a great deal of attention among professional circles. Together with the academic community, the project contributes to additional discussions on measuring the global effects of production and consumption in achieving the SDGs.

The project has drawn attention to the fact that southern networks in particular need advice and support. Selected networks are developing examples of practice-oriented contributions for achieving the SDGs and where possible, the networks have delivered exchange with German bilateral development cooperation projects. Through SDSN’s support, Germany is recognised as a driving force of the 2030 Agenda and is helping to shape international agendas.

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