What are ‘Multiple Synergies’?

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that ‘multiple synergies will be required to achieve the goals of sustainable development, including climate adaptation and mitigation, poverty eradication and reducing inequalities’.

So what might these synergies by?

This is explored in a paper title ‘Synergistic Interventions for Sustainability Improvement’ that will be published later year. In the paper, I explore what ‘multiple synergies’ may mean for neighbourhoods.

A sustainability assessment of an existing neighbourhood in Pretoria, South Africa is undertaken using the Built Environment Sustainability Tool (BEST). This provides the basis to propose, and test, a range of hypothetical interventions. The impact of these interventions is ascertained through the re-evaluation of the neighbourhoods with interventions included.

The study finds that some interventions proposed have limited impacts while others have significant impacts across several areas.

These high impact interventions are analysed further to ascertain their commonalities and characteristics. A number of these are described below.

1.Meeting Everyday Requirements: By increasing local access to facilities, goods and services required for everyday life, synergistic interventions support walking and non-motorised transport and reduce the need for vehicular transportation.


2. Conditional Development: Synergistic interventions proactively guide development through conditions such as a requirement to include enterprises and facilities that support improved local sustainability capability.


3. Creating Employment and Enterprises: Synergistic interventions create local jobs and enterprises.


4. Multi-use Infrastructure: Synergistic interventions increase impacts by ensuring that infrastructure supports multiple uses.


5. Local Governance: Synergistic interventions rely on effective local governance to ensure that development prioritizes local needs and are inclusive by addressing issues such as accessibility and affordability.

The analysis provides insight into the nature of interventions that may contribute to ‘multiple synergies’ in neighbourhoods. The study confirms that the approach appears to have significant practical potential for accelerating progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goals and climate change targets. An early version of the paper is available here.