Consideration of culture is vital if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonOne Earth. 2021, 4 (2), 307-319. 10.1016/j.oneear.2021.01.012
Integrating the social and natural sciences to effectively tackle the intertwined challenges represented by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been advocated for years. However, the practice is challenging, especially with respect to the beliefs, morals, and practices of individuals and groups or, more succinctly put, culture, which, despite attracting growing awareness, remains understated in sustainability. Here, we examine how and to what extent cultural values are linked to the achievement of the SDGs. Synthesizing knowledge from more than 300 publications, we show that cultural traits are linked to the achievement of all 17 SDGs and 79% of SDG targets. Further, empirical understanding obtained from a panel data analysis highlights that cultural values explain as much as 26% of the variations in the SDG achievements, yet the links are strikingly divergent across cultural traits and indicators. Our findings imply the need to consider more cultural contexts and nuances in sustainability science communications and policy design and to develop new cross-disciplinary solutions to sustainability challenges.