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Circular economy, degrowth and green growth as pathways for research on sustainable development goals: a global analysis and future trends

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Using bibliometric techniques, we evaluate the contribution of current academic research to the advancement of sustainable development agenda as expressed in the UN SDGs goals (SDGs). We focus on four knowledge domains highly relevant to the ethos of sustainable development, each with distinct approaches to finding a balance between ecological and economic systems when it comes to development: “Circular Economy” (CE), “Degrowth” (DG), Green Growth” (GG), and research specifically addressing sustainable development goals that we refer to as “SDG Research” (SDGR). We evaluate two dimensions: scope – the extent to which the full range of UN SD Agenda 2030 topics expressed in targets and indicators for each SDG are explored; and intensity- the quantity of research focusing on each SDG. Our analysis demonstrates that the four knowledge domains examined: CE, DG, GG and the emerging domain labelled SDGR, have made important contributions to research related with the 17 UN SDGs. However, these contributions are heterogeneous with important differences according to the SDG. We find that academic research does not fully align with the policy agenda, identifying several gaps. The disparate coverage of SDGs priorities by academics may compromise the progress and implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 14 Mar 2021


  • VAZQUEZ-BRUST_2021_cright_Circular Economy, Degrowth and Green Growth as Pathways

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