top of page

Addressing the sustainable development goals through transformative innovation policy

Johan Schot, Alejandra Boni , Matias Ramirez, Fred Steward


Foundational text

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out
in the United Nations 2030 Agenda and broken down into
169 associated targets and 232 indicators (United Nations,
2016) summarise the major challenges for our world.
Their implementation requires important contributions
from Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy as
recognized by the UN which explicitly includes STI in SDG
9 and identifies it as a key implementation mechanism for all
SDGs (United Nations, n.d.).
However, it is clear that addressing the SDGs is also
a challenge for STI policy, since business as usual will
not be sufficient. Within the Transformative Innovation
Policy Consortium (TIPC) members have embraced this
challenge, working together transnationally to provide
a new transformative foundation for STI policy. They
recognize that it requires openness and willingness to
explore new transformative principles and ideas1
. This
briefing, inspired by discussions within TIPC and from
participation in an UNCTAD expert workshop, builds
on a scientific paper by Schot and Steinmueller, and on
the work of other academics (see note 2), to propose a
way of viewing the implementation of the SDGs from a
Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) perspective, which is
simultaneously different and complementary to the ongoing
process of mainstreaming SDGs into current policies. TIP
offers an integrated and systems approach which targets
the underlying connections and trade-offs among the
SDGs. Rather than treating the SDGs as individual targets
or seeing them as missions, it focuses on transformation
processes that format specific outcomes as defined by
the entire collection of SDGs. A Transformative Innovation
Policy approach offers potentially game-changing
opportunities in the definition of a national implementation
strategy for Agenda 2030.

bottom of page