The Sustainable Development Methodology helps policymakers and other users assess multiple development and climate impacts across the environmental, social and economic dimensions. These may include air pollution reduction, job creation, improved health, access to energy, poverty reduction, protection of ecosystems, and more. 

The methodology can help advance policies that contribute to multiple Sustainable Development Goals and priorities, build support for climate actions by assessing impacts most relevant to national audiences, and inform policy design and implementation to maximize positive impacts and avoid or address unintended impacts. The methodology is applicable to all sectors, policies and actions.

Executive summary

Full Assessment Guide


1 & 2

What is the methodology and why should I use it?

These chapters explain the purpose and scope of the methodology and the various objectives the methodology can serve. This section should be read to understand whether to use the methodology and to determine what objectives it will be used for.



Overview of the methodology

This chapter provides an overview of the concepts and steps involved in assessing the sustainable development impacts of policies and actions. It also provides guidance on planning the assessment. This section should be read to understand the methodology and help plan the assessment process.



How to describe the policy or action being assessed

This chapter provides guidance on the first step of the assessment process, clearly describing the policy or action that will be assessed. It also provides guidance on deciding whether to assess an individual or a package of policies and actions and choosing whether to carry out an ex-ante (forward-looking) or ex-post (backward-looking) assessment.



How to choose which sustainable development impacts and indicators to assess

This chapter outlines the many types of sustainable development impact categories and indicators that can be assessed across the environmental, social and economic dimensions and guides users in choosing which to assess.


6 & 7

How to qualitatively assess impacts

These chapters explain how to use qualitative approaches to assess the sustainable development impacts of a policy or action. This step is relevant for all users, including those following qualitative and quantitative approaches. For users following a qualitative approach, these chapters are the key assessment steps. For users following a quantitative approach, these chapters are a preliminary step to prioritise which impacts are most significant and should therefore be quantified in later chapters.


8, 9, 10 & 11

How to quantitatively assess impacts

These chapters are relevant for users following a quantitative approach to impact assessment. Quantifying impacts may not always be necessary, but it enables a wider range of objectives than qualitative assessment alone, since it produces a quantified estimate of how effective policies are relative to what would have happened otherwise. This section includes all steps related to quantification, including estimating baseline scenario and policy scenario conditions and subtracting the two to estimate policy impact. It also includes a chapter on assessing the uncertainty of the results.


12 & 13

How to monitor indicators over time and report the results

These chapters are relevant for all users. Chapter 12 provides guidance on monitoring trends in key indicators over time to understand whether policies are on track and delivering expected results. Chapter 13 provides a recommended list of information to be reported, which ensures the impact assessment is transparent and gives decision-makers and stakeholders the information they need to properly interpret the results.



How to use results to make decisions, through tools such as cost-benefit analysis and multi-criteria analysis

This chapter provides an overview of cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-benefit analysis, and multi-criteria analysis, which can be used to evaluate possible synergies and tradeoffs across multiple impact categories included in the assessment and make decisions regarding policy choice and implementation.



Example of quantifying the sustainable development impacts of a solar PV incentive policy

This appendix provides an example of quantifying the impact of a grid-connected rooftop solar PV incentive policy. The example shows how to carry out a quantitative ex-ante assessment following the steps outlined in Chapters 8 and 9 for several different sustainable development impacts of the policy.


B & C

Additional guidance

These appendices provide additional information on involving stakeholders and using qualitative research methods during the assessment process.



List of tools and models for quantifying sustainable development impacts

This appendix provides examples of publicly available tools that can be used for assessing social, economic and environmental impacts of policies and actions.


Glossary, abbreviations and acronyms, references, and contributors

Glossary, abbreviations and acronyms, references, and contributors (11 pages)