Understanding interlinkages among UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is pivotal for the success of Agenda 2030. Here, we use water, a key sustainability resource, to advance SDG science by (1) assessing the synergies and trade-offs of improved water security on achieving the SDGs, (2) examining all the SDGs simultaneously, and (3) using a statistical analysis approach to synthesize the main interconnections. Our results show that water security positively contributed to all SDGs, especially SDG3 (good health) and SDG2 (zero hunger). Negative linkages (9% of all identified linkages) were potentially underrepresented and hampered critical assessment of water's links to the SDGs. The method may be used for other natural resources and their potential in supporting SDG implementation. Finally, more attention must be paid to the potential mutual benefits, and particularly the trade-offs, associated with SDG linkages.
- hierarchical clustering
- sustainable development goals