The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are offered as a comprehensive strategy to guide and encourage sustainable development at multiple scales both nationally and internationally. Furthermore, through the development of indicators associated with each goal and sub-goal, the SDGs support the notion of monitoring, evaluation and adaptive management, underpinned by the aspirations of social justice, equity and transparency. As such, the ethical intention of the SDGs is well founded. However, possible conflicts and trade-offs between individual SDGs have received little attention. For example, SDGs relating to poverty (SDG 1), inequality (SDG 10), food security (SDG2), economic development (SDG 8) and life in water and on land (SDGs 14 and 15), are potentially competing in many circumstances. In a social–ecological context, policy support and formulation are increasingly adopting systems approaches, which analyse the complex interactions of system elements. Adopting such an approach in this work, the above SDGs are analysed for coastal Bangladesh. This demonstrates multiple potential trade-offs between the SDGs, including agricultural farming approaches in the light of poverty reduction, and between economic growth and environmental integrity as well as equity. To develop coherent and policy relevant socio-ecological strategies, appropriate decision frameworks need to be co-developed across the range of stakeholders and decision-makers. Integrated models have great potential to support such a process.