Baffoe, G., Zhou, X., Moinuddin, M. et al. Urban–rural linkages: effective solutions for achieving sustainable development in Ghana from an SDG interlinkage perspective. Sustain Sci (2021).


Urbanization and concomitant challenges pose a great threat to sustainable development. Urban and rural development interacts through the flows of people, materials, energy, goods, capital, and information. Without building sound urban–rural linkages, achieving development in one area could compromise it in another area. Achieving sustainable development needs customized policy prioritization and implementation in both urban and rural areas.

Much literature exists in the research field of urban–rural linkages, but little has been done via a comprehensive analysis from an interlinkage perspective in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainable Development Goal 11 on sustainable cities and several targets embedded under other Goals provides a good framework for analyzing the urban–rural linkages.

This paper contributes to this novel research perspective using Ghana as a case. The study applied an integrated approach by combining the results from a solution-scanning exercise with an SDG interlinkage analysis to identify the challenges and priority solutions and assess the synergies and trade-offs of the identified solutions. It extends the conventional solution-scanning approach by further assessing the synergies and trade-offs of the solutions from an SDG interlinkage perspective. It also enables a more practical SDG interlinkage analysis through the contributions from the multi-stakeholder consultations conducted in Ghana.

The analyses show that prioritizing gender inclusion (Goal 5) will positively affect many social and well-being outcomes, including poverty elimination (Goal 1), hunger reduction (Goal 2), health improvement (Goal 3) and access to quality education (Goal 4) and basic services, such as water (Goal 6). However, gender inclusion could have potential trade-offs in the agricultural sector (Goal 2) in the case that women who dominate agricultural value chains could move to work in other sectors. Lack of proper infrastructure (Goal 9), such as transport, will hinder wide gender inclusion.

An integrated approach that considers both the synergies and trade-offs of relevant solutions is critical for effective policymaking, specifically in developing countries.