Gannon, Kate Elizabeth, Laetitia Pettinotti , Declan Conway , Swenja Surminski, Edward Ndilanha, & Tobias Nyumba (2022 March,). Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through development corridors in East Africa: A Q-methodology approach to imagining development futures. Environmental Science and Policy, 129, 56-67. (Open Access:

Abstract: In this paper we advance a novel approach to integrated assessment of the ways in which the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are likely to manifest and interact within a given development context, using Q methodology and the conceptual framing of imaginaries. We apply this to development corridors and identify three qualitatively distinct imaginaries of SDG futures that exist among stakeholders across five development corridors in East Africa. These imaginaries articulate shared understandings of the ways in which corridors are likely to support, or limit, achievement of the SDGs and construct explanatory logics around the ways in which SDG trade-offs and synergies are likely to manifest within corridors. Our analysis suggests that SDG goals and targets are mostly synergistic in corridor landscapes, but that interactions can be multi-dimensional. We also (1) identify specific clusters of goals and targets that may be directly mutually reinforcing and which, strengthened in parallel, could upscale development within corridors, and (2) identify ways in which, following current corridor trajectories, progress towards some SDGs is likely to threaten progress towards other goals and targets. Particularly, the analysis identifies biodiversity conservation (SDG14/SDG15), sustainability (SDG11, SDG12, SDG13), secure and equal access to land (SDG2.3) and inequality reduction (SDG10) to be likely trade-offs to other development gains in current corridor trajectories. The research emphasises the need for more integrated corridor governance to achieve the SDGs efficiently, as a whole and for all. The method is flexible and could be applied to enable rapid assessment of SDG trajectories within other development contexts.

Kate Elizabeth Gannon <> is in the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.