WUR influential in research on sustainable development goals

The Netherlands has a significant scientific impact on the sustainable development goals.
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WUR is authoritative in climate research, according to a study published by Elsevier on 23 September.

The United Nations announced the sustainable development goals (SDG’s) five years ago. Since then, 4.1 million scientific articles were published throughout the world on issues pertaining to these SDGs, Elsevier calculated. The majority of the publications are on the subject of improving public health worldwide, closely followed by articles on affordable, sustainable energy and climate action (i.e., climate change).

According to the Elsevier report, the Dutch SDG research is authoritative, as it is frequently cited. Dutch research on development goals 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 13 (Climate Action) are cited particularly frequently. In the field of climate action, WUR is influential: Wageningen publications are cited 220 per cent more often than the global average in this field.


The TU Delft is leading on the issue of Affordable and Sustainable Energy. Its articles are cited 110 per cent more often than others in the same field. Elsevier’s data also reveals Utrecht University to publish a great deal related to the sustainable development goals.

Elsevier analysed publications related to the first sixteen sustainable development goals, including zero poverty, zero hunger, gender equality, clean water and sustainable cities. The large majority of research is conducted in rich, industrialised nations, and are most relevant to these countries, says Elsevier. There is relatively little research that strives to ease the burden of developing countries. Health yielded the most publications (3 million), zero poverty the fewest (11,000).


The SDG Climate Action prompted the greatest level of international collaboration; one-third of the publications are authored by an international group. Collaboration between academics and businesses seldomly occurs in development research, despite the fact that such cooperation may lead to faster implementation of results in practice. Elsevier also concluded that gender equality plays too small a role in other sustainable development goals.

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