The Role of Technology and Rebound Effects in the Success of the Sustainable Development Goals Framework

David Font Vivanco, Tamar Makov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The sustainable development goal (SDG) framework lacks a systems approach and addresses specific goals as separate elements, typically in isolation from each other. In doing so, the framework overlooks the fact that many of the goals are inherently linked such that progress toward one goal could either hinder or reinforce progress toward other goals. While linkages are especially common in goals that rely on technological change, the role of technology in mediating SDG linkages remains relatively unexplored. In particular, behavioral or systemic responses that counteract environmental gains from technological change, commonly referred to as rebound effects, could mediate linkages between SDGs and diminish the overall efficacy of SDG strategies. To illustrate the potential of using rebound effects to expose hidden SDG barriers, this chapter first maps the technology-reliance of SDGs and their interlinkages. The authors then focus on three goals that are both technology-intensive and highly interlinked—SDG6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG7 (affordable and clean energy), and SDG12 (responsible consumption and production)—and explore potential implications related to rebound effects. The chapter shows that rebound research offers a rich array of theories, tools, and methods, and provides a useful framework to identify and characterize conflicting and reinforcing SDG linkages, specify their underlining mechanisms, and assess the nature and magnitude of their impacts. The application of rebound theories and methods could therefore help investigate the consistency of the SDG framework as a whole, and identify appropriate management strategies to mitigate undesired effects and potential environmental-economic-social trade-offs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScience, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development Goals
Subtitle of host publicationInsights from Agriculture, Health, Environment, and Energy
EditorsA. Adenle Ademola, Ellen H.M. Moors, David J. Pannell, Marian Chertow
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780197528907
ISBN (Print)9780190949501
StatePublished - 16 Oct 2020


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