Reinvigorating the sustainable development research agenda: the role of the sustainable development goals (SDG)

Walter Leal Filho, Ulisses Azeiteiro, Fátima Alves, Paul Pace, Mark Mifsud, Luciana Brandli, Sandra S. Caeiro, Antje Disterheft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Citations (Scopus)


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) contain a set of 17 measures to foster sustainable development across many areas. It offers a good opportunity to reinvigorate sustainable development research for two main reasons. First, it comprises many areas of SD research, which have become mainstream thanks to the UN SDGs. Second, the fact that the UN and its member countries have committed to attaining SDGs by 2030 has added a sense of urgency to the need to perform quality research on SD on the one hand, and reiterates the need to use the results of this research on the other. Even though the basic concept of sustainability goes back many centuries, it has only recently appeared on the international political agenda. This is partly due to an awakening of the fact that the human ecological pressure on the planet is still much larger than what nature can renew or compensate for. Based on this state of affairs, this paper presents an outline of the process leading to the agreement on the UN SDGs, and looks at some of the ecological aspects as a result of continued pressure of human activities on natural resources. Furthermore, a set of research needs is proposed–also based holistically on updated research trends–discussing the degree of urgency of some measures and explaining why the UN SDGs need to be accorded greater priority in international sustainable development research efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-142
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal Of Sustainable Development And World Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2018


  • implementation
  • international sustainable development
  • research
  • Sustainable development goals
  • UN 2030 Agenda


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