Climate change is a major challenge for sustainable development, impacting human health, wellbeing, security, and livelihoods. While the post-2015 development agenda sets out action on climate change as one of the Sustainable Development Goals, there is little provision on how this can be achieved in tandem with the desired economic progress and the required improvements in health and wellbeing.
This paper examines synergies and tensions between the goals addressing climate change and economic progress. It identifies reductionist approaches in economics, such as ‘externalities’, reliance on the metric of the Gross Domestic Product, positive discount rates, and short-term profit targets as some of the key sources of tensions between these goals. Such reductionist approaches could be addressed by intersectoral governance mechanisms. Health in All Policies, health-sensitive macro-economic progress indicators, and accounting for long-term and nonmonetary values are some of the approaches that could be adapted and used in governance for the SDGs. Policy framing of climate change and similar issues should facilitate development of intersectoral governance approaches.