Need for research aligned with Sustainable Development Goals

Research focuses have changed from self-directed towards social development and real-time impact.

By Dr Sakul Kundra

The research on any particular is a personal choice of a scholar, but the world of publication and university expectations has changed in the last few decades. Many research grants, consultations and scholarships are aligned with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Tertiary institutions worldwide strive to achieve the SDGs in their mission and vision.

The research plans of modified to align with the SDGs, which include an array of research activities (leading innovative research projects; holding seminars/webinars; drafting research journals and producing special editions; exploring research grants from agencies supporting SDGs; publication on themes catering for the needs of sustainable development goals; presenting a research paper in a conference addressing researches related to SDGs;  holding Conferences and Webinars;  and many more).

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Research focuses have changed from self-directed towards social development and real-time impact.  Climate change, life below water and life on Land has been burning global issue, especially in the Pacific. This opinion article gives a snipped view of the Origin and history of SDGs and the factors that led to imply them in research.

History of SDGs

Development of SDGs is part of the worldwide approach to solving pivotal world issues and the research is conducted in pursuance of Sustainable Development Goals. The coming up of SDGs is associated with United Nation, which tried to find solutions of many global challenges since its birth. In September 2000, many world leaders came together at Millennium Summit, UN headquarters in New York, to resolve these issues that adopted Millennium Development Goals (MDG). These goals were agreed upon by all 189 UN members and 23 international organizations. There were eight targets set to be achieved by 2015 as a part of MDG.

These included:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
  • Achieve universal primary education;
  • Promote gender equality and empower women;
  • Reduce child mortality;
  • Improve maternal health;
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases;
  • Ensure environmental sustainability; and
  • Develop a global partnership for development”.

There were some drawbacks of MDGs that were not able to achieve the desired results. The shortcoming included “lack of Intermediate objectives and milestone; Outdated data; Non-participation of private sectors; and Lack of societal investment/contribution” (O.S.I. Fayomi et al. 2018).

Others have criticized these MDGs on the basis that human rights norms and values are not properly alighted; lack of accountability system; and are mostly controlled by international organisations and developed country government; and some criticized for omitting of crucial objectives like inequality (International Human Rights Instruments, 2008; Bautista-Puig et. al.,  2021).

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Thus many delegates from many countries came to an agreement to formulate Sustainable Development Goals that constitute 17 objectives to be achieved in 15 years or by the year 2030. The 2030 Agenda was approved in UN General Assembly in 2015.

Researches correlate with SDGs

Many universities around the world are promoting researches to achieve the SDGs. These SDGs consist of “SDG 1 No Poverty: SDG2 Zero Hunger; SDG3 Good health and well-being; SDG4 Quality Education; SDG5 Gender Equality; SDG6 Clean water and sanitation; SDG7 Affordable and Clean Energy; SDG8 Decent Work and Economic Growth; SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; SDG10 Reduced Inequalities; SDG11 Sustainable Cities and Communities; SDG12 Responsible Consumption and Production;  SDG13  Climate Action; SDG14 Life below water; SDG15 Life on Land; SDG16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; S‌DG 17 Partnerships for the Goals”.

There are many types of research at tertiary institutions that align with SDGs to combat the world’s pressing challenges. The implication of this approach at Universities needs to adopt an interdisciplinary approach where the expertise of various disciplines needs to come together to resolve these grave issues. The research will show the way forward to find possible sustainable solutions raised in SDGs. Reducing and eliminating poverty is one of the prime objectives of sustainable development objectives.

Many universities are providing research funds in the field of SDGs; special emphasis is made to support publications on research related to sustainable development goals. Several international conferences are held and participated in line to find solutions to SDGs.

Measured are taken to capture these problems by awakening the masses by many reports and surveys that are conducted. Both qualitative and quantitative research is conducted across the world to capture these challenges to make the world a better place to live sustainably. Community service is also another arm to support the issues raised in SDGs. It is a way forward to resolve these problems to get a better future.


Research that can make a real-time impact on society and the world. The 2030 Agenda is the prime concern for the researchers and with collective efforts, the objectives of SDGs can be achieved.  It should be mindful that research based on the researcher’s interest should also be taken into consideration as a part of freedom in research by the sponsoring agencies and grant organisations.

Thus the combination of SDGs-sponsored research and local research interest should be funded to achieve sustainable goals.

Contributing Author: Dr Sakul Kundra is an Associate Dean of Research and Assistant Professor in History at the College of Humanities and Education at Fiji National University. The views expressed are his own and not of this newspaper or his employer. Email dr.sakulkundra@gmail.com