From Aspirations to Achievements? The Global Sustainable Development Goals

Thursday 9 May 2019, 14:30 - 18:00
Aula A
International Institute of Social Studies
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A symposium on recent work by researchers at the International Institute of Social Studies (Erasmus University Rotterdam), The Hague

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), centrepiece of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, were negotiated through the United Nations system in 2012-2015 and agreed by all member countries. They are notable in several ways:

  1. By linking economic, social and environmental dimensions of development they move beyond the narrower focus on poverty and human development of the Millennium Development Goals
  2. They apply to and in all countries
  3. They articulate a set of aspirational goals for inclusive and sustainable global progress, that is complementary to and often more specific than human rights, but also an agenda for cooperative action towards these, partly focused via targets and indicators 

In this event, ISS researchers present ideas from a series of research projects that have looked at the nature and potentials/limitations of the SDGs, and the processes and politics behind the setting and use of the goals, targets, and indicators. We invite comments, questions and sharing of experience from everyone interested in the SDGs.

Agenda and timeline of the symposium:

The detailed contents of the SDGs are problematic in various respects. However, the process through which they emerged is equally important—a process carried by member nations of the UN, especially from the South, and with extensive public outreach, not dominated by rich countries and international bureaucracies—and it has implications for their long-run potential.

This paper looks at formation of the SDGs as an attempt to stimulate and coordinate progressive action and cooperation worldwide, for the ‘post-aid’ era, and at the systems of alliances that emerged to articulate, negotiate, and promulgate the goals. Webs of personal relations played a role, but within systems of institutionalized relationships. The future influence of the SDGs should be considered within this context of evolving global power systems.

Sustainable Development Goals and Income Inequality, Peter van Bergeijk and Rolph van der Hoeven (eds.), Cheltenham: Edward Elgar (2017) 

This book documents and analyses the seriousness of growing national inequality in different regions around the world and argues that the treatment of inequality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is wholly insufficient amongst others due to their failure to recognise the growing difference between the income of work and the income of capital and the super rich, and the strain this places on a country’s social fabric. 

[Followed by coffee/tea]

Open Access Special Issue (January 2019, vol. 10, S1) of the journal Global Policy – ‘Knowledge and Politics in Setting and Measuring SDGs’ – a series of case-studies and commentaries, edited by Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Desmond McNeill.

Introduction of the special issue by Sunil Tankha and Des Gasper, who participated in the project. The targets and indicators established for the SDGs can be very important, in steering attention, activity and expenditure. They are often open to critical discussion: as perhaps too general / too specific / too weak / too ambitious / too restrictive /… This journal special issue looks at those questions and the associated politics, for many of the SDGs.

The Framing of Sustainable Consumption and Production in SDG 12’, by Des Gasper, Amod Shah and Sunil Tankha. Global Policy, vol. 10, S1, pp. 83-95 

‘Children’s Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals’, by Karin Arts: in Ursula Kilkelly and Ton Liefaard (eds.), International Human Rights: International Children’s Rights Law, Springer, Singapore, 2019, pp. 537-561.

[Followed by drinks]

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