loading page

Chasing Sustainable Development: A Network Approach to Rank Countries in the Agenda 2030
  • +1
  • Carla Sciarra,
  • Guido Chiarotti,
  • Luca Ridolfi,
  • Francesco Laio
Carla Sciarra
Polytechnic University of Turin

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Guido Chiarotti
Polytechnic University of Turin
Author Profile
Luca Ridolfi
Politecnico di torino
Author Profile
Francesco Laio
Politecnico di Torino
Author Profile


In 2015, the United Nations established the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, addressing the major challenges the world faces and introducing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). How are countries performing in their challenge toward sustainable development? We address this question by treating countries and Goals as a bipartite complex network. While network science has been used to unveil the interconnections among the Goals, it has been poorly exploited to rank countries for their achievements. In this work, we show that the network representation of the countries-SDGs relations as a bipartite system allows one to recover aggregated scores of countries’ capacity to cope with SDGs as the solutions of a network’s centrality exercise, where more central countries are showing best performances in pursuing the SDGs. While the Goals are all equally important by definition, interesting differences self-emerge when non-standard centrality metrics, borrowed from economic complexity, are adopted. Innovation and Climate Action stand as contrasting Goals to be accomplished, with countries facing the well-known trade-offs between economic and environmental issues even in addressing the Agenda. In conclusion, the complexity of countries’ paths toward sustainable development cannot be fully understood by resorting to a single, multipurpose, ranking indicator, while multi-variable analyses shed new light on the present and future of sustainable development.