The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are intended to create a world that is socially, economically and environmentally fair and resilient. But there are 17 goals and 169 actions (“targets”) within them. Where should a country begin, especially if it has limited resources? Sustainability experts say that the goals of water, food and energy are crucial to the wider set and that they are tightly intertwined. A new analysis by four international researchers indicates water solutions provide the greatest synergistic advantages for all three (large graphic) and have only a few minor problematic trade-offs (small graphic). “We want policy makers to see that these goals have to be achieved together,” says Marianela Fader, deputy director of the International Center for Water Resources and Global Change in Germany. “And that water pays off best.”