Linking reservoir ecosystems research to the sustainable development goals

Zhaofeng Guo, Wiebke J. Boeing, Edoardo Borgomeo, Yaoyang Xu, Ying Weng

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Reservoirs account for about 10% of the freshwater stored in lakes worldwide. These reservoirs are home to ‘reservoir ecosystems’, that is, the aquatic and non-aquatic interactive ecosystems associated with artificial lakes where water is stored, typically behind a dam, for human purposes. While reservoir ecosystems provide various ecosystem services for sustainable development, their significance in research and policy has not been well understood and not well defined in the 2030 United Nation's (UN) Agenda for Sustainable Development. To advance understanding of reservoir ecosystems and their impact on policy, here we provide an overview of research on reservoir ecosystems and link it to UN SDGs and their Targets. Based on 5280 articles published in the last three decades, we applied network visualization to construct a framework for research addressing reservoir ecosystems. The framework covers four major themes: (1) ecosystem structure and function, (2) environmental pollution and stress effects, (3) climate impacts and ecological feedbacks, and (4) ecosystem services and management. We have found that sustainable reservoir ecosystems synergistically support 121 Targets of UN SDGs (71% of all). Reservoir ecosystems have both negative and positive implications for 15 targets (9%) and negative trade-offs for only 3 targets (2%). Thirty SDG Targets (18%) are unrelated to sustainable reservoir ecosystems. The synergies and trade-offs exist in three fields, securing basic material needs (SDGs 2, 6, 7, 14 and 15), pursuing common human well-being (SDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 10), and coordinating sustainable governance policies (SDGs 9, 11, 12, 13, 16 and 17). Exploring these linkages allows better integration of reservoir ecosystems into the UN SDGs framework and guides sustainable management of reservoir ecosystems for sustainable development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146769
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Ecosystem service
  • Network visualization
  • Reservoir ecosystem
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Sustainable management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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