The spirit of doing things differently is central to the purpose of the Sustainable Development Goals. The title of the all-country agreement establishing the goals was nothing shy of “Transforming our world.” It emphasized the “universal, integrated, and interrelated nature” of the goals, which “seek to realize the human rights of all.” Societies were not signing on to cherry-pick goals here and there. A hundred and ninety-three countries committed to transformation across all the goals, everywhere.

A growing range of constituencies are engaging on the SDGs. More than 60 local government entities have crafted “Voluntary Local Reviews” of their SDG progress since New York City pioneered the first one in 2018. Almost three-quarters of the world’s 250 largest companies by revenue now report against some dimension of the SDGs. Despite an array of success stories and growing range of constituencies engaging on the SDGs, empirical assessments draw attention to widespread shortfalls. The bottom line is that the world has not been doing enough things differently enough to be on course for SDG success.

Developed by the Brookings Center for Sustainable Development (CSD), this short compendium captures a cross-section of SDG-focused insights and recommendations from CSD-affiliated scholars. A dozen brief essays describe something with the potential to be done differently during the second half of the SDG era.






Published April 2023


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