On a road to understanding SDG interactions

Development Policy,Governing SDG Interactions,Knowledge brokering27 Jul 2021Yannicke Goris

Earlier this year we proudly announced that The Broker, in collaboration with Dr. Nicky Pouw (University of Amsterdam) and Prof. Dzodzi Tsikata (University of Ghana), will be carrying out a 5-year knowledge brokering and synthesis (KBS) project within NWO’s SDG Interactions research programme. This month, we were finally able to really start the programme, together with the recently selected research groups. To mark this special moment, the KBS team, selected researchers and representatives from NWO and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs came together for an online kick-off session, ready to get this programme on the road!

In June this year, NWO awarded three proposals within the SDG Interactions research programme, each focusing on the complex trade-offs and synergies between the Sustainable Development Goals. Over the following five years, The Broker will work closely with these three research groups (see textbox to find out more about the projects) and, as part of the KBS team, will bring their findings together and present them in such a way that they have the most possible impact – thus ensuring that the groups’ insights will become more than the sum of their parts

The three selected research projects:

Beyond cherry-picking: aligning development actors and efforts for inclusive and effective governance of trade-offs and synergies between SDGs in East Africa

This first project, led by prof. Art Dewulf (Wageningen University and Research) focuses on Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. It seeks to determine how SDG governance mechanisms can be transformed from a fragmented governance regime to an inclusive and effective system, in which actors collaborate better, coordinate their efforts and build synergies.

Improving food and nutrition security by enhancing women’s empowerment

Focusing on Bangladesh and Ethiopia, this research project – led by prof. Robert Lensink (University of Groningen) – analyses in what ways women’s empowerment may affect nutrition security and effect zero hunger (SDG 2). It takes a novel approach by combining conventional economic interventions while also looking at newly developed modules focusing on psychological constraints as well as gender norms.

From Climate Change to Conflict: Mitigation through Insurance?

Dr. Karlijn Morsink (Utrecht University) is leading this project, which focuses on Kenya and Ethiopia. This study seeks to provide insight in the complex relationship between climate-induced weather shocks, insurance, and conflict and cooperation, as well as the design of an insurance-based intervention that reduces conflict.

During the kick-off session, the KBS team was able to present its first knowledge product: Approaches to study SDG interactions: Literature review of relevant frameworks. Written by our knowledge brokers Martha Kapazoglou and Kiza Magendane, this literature review identifies and outlines the most relevant and recent scientific approaches to study SDG interactions. Presenting the study, which provides insight into the state-of-the-art-literature and current scientific debates on SDG Interactions, at the very start of the programme was a very conscious decision. It offers the three selected research consortia with a useful ‘springboard’ to start their projects. That is, it offers a basis from which they can commence their own respective literature reviews targeted to their separate thematic foci.

In years to come, The Broker will be producing many more knowledge products with its KBS-team colleagues – Dr. Nicky Pouw and Prof. Dzodzi Tsikata – and the three research teams. These knowledge products will be published on the NWO website dedicated to the SDG Interactions programme.

For more information about this project, the literature study, or about what a KBS-trajectory could look like for you, please contact us at