Project Drawdown solutions meet many Sustainable Development Goals

By Amy Quinton and Daniel Newman

In 2015 all United Nations (UN) countries agreed to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. 169 targets and 232 unique indicators measure progress on the 17 STGs.

Climate Action is number 13 of these 17 SDGs that the world has agreed is of critical importance.

A separate initiative, Project Drawdown, has identified a range of solutions (“drawdown solutions”), ranked via objective measures of CO2-equivalent reduction and costs, that would largely achieve the Climate Action SDG.

We realised that most drawdown solutions provide additional sustainable development benefits which relate directly to many of the 17 SDGs. So we attempted to categorise which of Project Drawdown’s top 76 solutions we thought related to which of the 17 SDGs.

The figure and table below shows our rudimentary assessment that the Project Drawdown’s solutions make a positive contribution to 16 of the 17 SDGs, not just to the Climate Action SDG!

Project Drawdown’s solutions address many of the SDGs

The size of each rectangles corresponds to the number of Drawdown Solutions that could help achieve the SDG. So the bigger the SDG rectangle, the more Drawdown Solutions could be applied.

The data pertaining to the plot above

SDGs with more related Drawdown Solutions appear in columns towards the left:
Scroll over the table to navigate

13 Climate Action 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities 12 Responsible Consumption and Production 15 Life on Land 7 Affordable and Clean Energy 9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure 3 Good Health and Well being 2 Zero Hunger 5 Gender Equality 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth 1 No Poverty 14 Life Below Water 10 Reduced Inequality 17 Partnerships to achieve the goal 4 Quality Education
Refrigerant Management Refrigerant Management Refrigerant Management Reduced Food Waste Wind Turbines (Onshore) Electric Vehicles Reduced Food Waste Reduced Food Waste Educating Girls Educating Girls Educating Girls Coastal Wetlands Educating Girls Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management Educating Girls
Wind Turbines (Onshore) Wind Turbines (Onshore) Wind Turbines (Onshore) Plant-Rich Diet Solar Farms Methane Digesters (Large) Plant-Rich Diet Managed Grazing Family Planning Women Smallholders Family Planning Nutrient Management
Reduced Food Waste Reduced Food Waste Reduced Food Waste Silvopasture Rooftop Solar Insulation Family Planning Improved Rice Cultivation Women Smallholders Telepresence
Plant-Rich Diet Solar Farms Solar Farms Regenerative Agriculture Geothermal Ships Clean Cookstoves System of Rice Intensification
Tropical Forests Rooftop Solar Silvopasture Temperate Forests Nuclear LED Lighting (Household) Electric Vehicles Farmland Irrigation
Educating Girls Geothermal Rooftop Solar Peatlands Clean Cookstoves Bamboo Mass Transit
Family Planning Nuclear Regenerative Agriculture Tropical Staple Trees Wind Turbines (Offshore) Alternative Cement Forest Protection
Solar Farms Wind Turbines (Offshore) Tropical Staple Trees Afforestation Concentrated Solar Trucks Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management
Silvopasture Concentrated Solar Conservation Agriculture Conservation Agriculture Wave and Tidal Airplanes Walkable Cities
Rooftop Solar Electric Vehicles Tree Intercropping Tree Intercropping Methane Digesters (Large) Building Automation Bike Infrastructure
Regenerative Agriculture District Heating Geothermal Managed Grazing Biomass Bioplastic Electric Bikes
Temperate Forests Insulation Managed Grazing Farmland Restoration Solar Water Cars Green Roofs
Peatlands LED Lighting (Household) Methane Digesters (Large) Multistrata Agroforestry In-Stream Hydro Cogeneration
Tropical Staple Trees Bamboo Ships Methane Digesters (Large) Cogeneration Smart Glass
Afforestation Alternative Cement Bamboo Bamboo Landfill Methane High-speed Rail
Conservation Agriculture Mass Transit Alternative Cement Forest Protection Methane Digesters (Small) Water Distribution
Tree Intercropping Trucks Trucks Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management Micro Wind Ridesharing
Geothermal Solar Water Heat Pumps Perennial Biomass
Managed Grazing Heat Pumps Airplanes Coastal Wetlands
Nuclear LED Lighting (Commercial) Water Saving - Home System of Rice Intensification
Clean Cookstoves Building Automation Bioplastic Composting
Wind Turbines (Offshore) Water Saving - Home Cars Women Smallholders
Farmland Restoration Bioplastic Household Recycling Nutrient Management
Improved Rice Cultivation In-Stream Hydro Industrial Recycling Farmland Irrigation
Concentrated Solar Cars Composting Recycled Paper
Electric Vehicles Cogeneration Nutrient Management Biochar
District Heating Walkable Cities Recycled Paper
Multistrata Agroforestry Household Recycling Water Distribution
Wave and Tidal Industrial Recycling Trains
Methane Digesters (Large) Smart Thermostats
Insulation Bike Infrastructure
Ships Composting
LED Lighting (Household) Smart Glass
Biomass Telepresence
Bamboo High-speed Rail
Alternative Cement Electric Bikes
Mass Transit Water Distribution
Forest Protection Green Roofs
Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management Trains
Trucks Ridesharing
Solar Water Micro Wind
Heat Pumps
LED Lighting (Commercial)
Building Automation
Water Saving - Home
In-Stream Hydro
Perennial Biomass
Coastal Wetlands
System of Rice Intensification
Walkable Cities
Household Recycling
Industrial Recycling
Smart Thermostats
Landfill Methane
Bike Infrastructure
Smart Glass
Women Smallholders
Methane Digesters (Small)
Nutrient Management
High-speed Rail
Farmland Irrigation
Electric Bikes
Recycled Paper
Water Distribution
Green Roofs
Micro Wind

From the other perspective, which of the Drawdown Solutions relates to the most SDGs?

The table below shows our assessment that the Educating Girls and Reduced Food Waste drawdown solutions are related to the most SDGs, each applicable to (at least) 6 SDGs:

  • Educating Girls:
    • Climate Action; Gender Equality; No Poverty; Decent Work and Economic Growth; Reduced Inequality; Quality Education.
  • Reduced Food Waste:
    • Climate Action; Zero Hunger; Good Health and Well being; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Responsible Consumption and Production; Life on Land.

The table below shows our rudimentary assessment of the number of related SDGs for each of the 76 best Drawdown Solutions

Number of related SDGs for each of the 76 best Drawdown Solutions:
Scroll over the table to navigate

Drawdown Solution Number of related SDGs
Educating Girls 6
Reduced Food Waste 6
Bamboo 5
Methane Digesters (Large) 5
Alternative Cement 4
Bioplastic 4
Cars 4
Cogeneration 4
Composting 4
Electric Vehicles 4
Family Planning 4
Geothermal 4
Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management 4
Managed Grazing 4
Nutrient Management 4
Rooftop Solar 4
Solar Farms 4
Trucks 4
Water Distribution 4
Wind Turbines (Onshore) 4
Women Smallholders 4
Airplanes 3
Bike Infrastructure 3
Building Automation 3
Clean Cookstoves 3
Coastal Wetlands 3
Concentrated Solar 3
Conservation Agriculture 3
Electric Bikes 3
Farmland Irrigation 3
Forest Protection 3
Green Roofs 3
Heat Pumps 3
High-speed Rail 3
Household Recycling 3
In-Stream Hydro 3
Industrial Recycling 3
Insulation 3
LED Lighting (Household) 3
Mass Transit 3
Micro Wind 3
Nuclear 3
Plant-Rich Diet 3
Recycled Paper 3
Refrigerant Management 3
Regenerative Agriculture 3
Ridesharing 3
Ships 3
Silvopasture 3
Smart Glass 3
Solar Water 3
System of Rice Intensification 3
Telepresence 3
Trains 3
Tree Intercropping 3
Tropical Staple Trees 3
Walkable Cities 3
Water Saving - Home 3
Wind Turbines (Offshore) 3
Afforestation 2
Biochar 2
Biomass 2
District Heating 2
Farmland Restoration 2
Improved Rice Cultivation 2
Landfill Methane 2
LED Lighting (Commercial) 2
Methane Digesters (Small) 2
Multistrata Agroforestry 2
Peatlands 2
Perennial Biomass 2
Smart Thermostats 2
Temperate Forests 2
Wave and Tidal 2
Tropical Forests 1
Waste-to-Energy 1

Open data and code from this analysis

We hope this post is interesting and thought provoking. If anybody would like to contribute further to it, here is the spreadsheet containing our rough analysis. Anyone can add comments/suggestions. We will recieve an email notification when people comment. Also here is a repository with the code we used to produce everything else in this post (pull requests welcome).


Our rudimentary analysis shows that the Drawdown Solutions provide well described and measurable ways to address climate change while also contributing to a broad range of other SDGs and benefits.

We hope this is useful for governments, businesses, not-for-profits and others looking for direct ways to contribute towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Written on November 10, 2019