Fact of the Week: The Share of Global Research Dedicated to U.N. Development Goals Tripled Over the Past 20 Years

Kevin Gawora November 16, 2020
November 16, 2020

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Source: Heather Hall, “Digital Science reports that just 10% of global research output relates to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,”  R&D World, May 2020.

Commentary: Conversations around economic development increasingly focus on sustainable development, a model stressing the importance of health and education spending, reducing inequality, and tackling climate change. A report by the tech research company Digital Science found that, in 2019, 500,000 publications or 10 percent of the world’s total, related to the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations. This is in contrast to the 3 percent of total publications that were related to the UN’s millennium development goals (MDGs) in 2000. The report found that although the United States is still the global leader in SDG research, China’s footprint has grown rapidly; it is now the second-largest producer of SDG research. Increases in SDG research, whether from the United States, China, or elsewhere, will help promote holistic development by providing evidence and outlining to policymakers the benefits of taking a broad view of development.