Reducing trade-offs and increasing synergies associated with improved food security in Lao PDR and Myanmar


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a comprehensive set of targets for humanity, and progress towards each of the SDG is considered a positive development. Some SDG can be considered synergetic when progress towards one SDG yields additional benefits towards another SDG. However, in other cases progress towards one SDG might cause tradeoffs by limiting the progress towards another SDG, which is not unlikely in a world of limited resources. In this project we will assess how and to what extent improvements towards food and nutrition security (SDG2) is associated with synergies and trade-offs with poverty reduction (SDG1), health (SDG3), climate change (SDG13), and biodiversity (15). We focus on Lao PDR and Myanmar, two developing countries in Southeast Asia where hunger is still prevalent in many locations. We analyse the relations between multiple SDGs at the subnational level by developing a ranking methodology and subsequently select both hotspots (synergies between SDGs) and coldspots (trade-offs between SDGs) for further investigation of the causal mechanisms that underlie the observed synergies and trade-offs. Subsequently, we use time-line analyses and other participatory approaches to find the moderating role of policies in these synergies and trade-offs, and use the results to provide recommendations for future policies towards sustainable development. Throughout the project we will continue discussing research design and progress with the project partners and other relevant stakeholders (including the World Bank), to ensure that results are scientifically sound, but also relevant to support further sustainable development in the region.


Project number

W 07.303.108

Main applicant

Prof. dr. P. Lanjouw

Affiliated with

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics, Algemene en Ontwikkelingseconomie

Team members

J. Appelt, Dr. C. Arndt, Dr. D.R. Essink, D.C. Garcia Rojas, Dr. S. Kounnavong PhD MA, Prof. dr. P. Lanjouw, Dr. K. Mahrt, Dr. T. Saphangtong, Dr. ir. J. van Vliet


15/04/2018 to 31/12/2021