This study investigates, at the country level, the adverse effects of changes in metal inputs on the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs). It also highlights the relationships between metals use and various socio-economic consequences that urgently require decoupling in order to achieve the SDGs. We performed panel data analysis to evaluate, on a national scale and over a ten-year period (2004–2013), the impact of changes in the material flows of 11 metals on 96 SDG indicators corresponding to the 17 SDGs defined by the UN. On average, an increase in the material flow of the targeted metals was found to be correlated with a deterioration in approximately 10% of the 96 indicators. Among the affected SDGs, the adverse impact of metals on SDG 3 (Health), SDG 8 (Economic Growth), and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions)was particularly noteworthy. More SDGs were negatively impacted in metal-mining countries than in metal-importing countries.
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