Promoting sustainable development worldwide: the Sustainable Development Solutions Network

Project description

Title: Strengthening the Sustainable Development Solutions Network III (global)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2013 to 2022


The global developments of the 21st century present challenges which the international community needs to counter with long-term and well-considered solutions. This was the context for the foundation of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in August 2012 under the aegis of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) Ban Ki-Moon, with the objective of addressing sustainable development policy issues. 

The knowledge network advises the UN and other international participants in the sustainability debate. It works with the UN, the private sector and civil society to identify new approaches to sustainable development within the framework of the 2030 Agenda and to implement them in specific pilot projects. The SDSN now comprises a large number of regional, national and thematic networks that develop practical solutions for sustainable development.


The scientific community participates to a greater extent in global debates on implementing the 2030 Agenda, in particular regarding questions of global responsibility and inequality.


The project advises the SDSN secretariat and the SDSN networks of the partner countries, in order to contribute to sustainable development of the countries and regions. The project is involved in four fields of activity: 

  1. It supports the development of data-based products that track the global effects of national actions and thus illustrate the global responsibility of individual countries. 
  2. It promotes research on data-based policy design, in particular with regard to questions of gender equality and the ‘Leave No One Behind’ principle.
  3. It supports networks in the Global South in their goals and ways of working. The project provides methodological procedures, direct advice and organisational development to strengthen the global SDSN in network development. 
  4. It enables the exchange of knowledge regarding the COVID-19 crisis, in order to formulate concrete guidance on how the 2030 Agenda can be taken into consideration in overcoming the crisis. 


Nine years after it was founded, the SDSN has established itself as a serious global knowledge network that can claim the right to participate in shaping society.

Financing of the SDSN secretariat and establishing and consolidating the regional and national network structures made an important contribution to the stabilisation, functionality as well as growth and expansion of the network. 
Since funding began in September 2013, the number of network members has grown from 81 to over 1,300. The number of national and regional networks has increased to 40.

SDSN played an important role in the debate on the targets and indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Sustainable Development Report with the SDG Index and Dashboards, which has been published annually since 2016 by SDSN and the Bertelsmann Foundation, also has a wide professional readership. 
In cooperation with the scientific community, the project contributes to a wider debate on how to measure the global impact of production and consumption on attainment of the SDGs.

The project has put the spotlight on advising and supporting networks in the Global South in particular and has contributed to development of initial evidence-based policy recommendations. Practice-oriented papers are produced in selected networks and shared with German development cooperation projects. 
Supporting the SDSN allows Germany to be seen as a driving force behind the 2030 Agenda and to help shape the international agendas.

Last update: February 2021 

Additional information