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Sustainable Development Goals and Inclusive Development

Gupta, Joyeeta, Isa Baud, Ralien Bekkers, Steven Bernstein, Ingrid Boas, Vincent Cornelissen, Masahiko Iguchi, Norichika Kanie, Rakhyun E. Kim, Mairon Bastos Lima, Pedi Obani, Petra Schoof, Casey Stevens, and Dylan van Zoomeren. 2014. Sustainable Development Goals and Inclusive Development. Post2015 / UNU-IAS Policy Brief, Nr. 5.


The International Workshop on Governance ‘of’ and ‘for’ Sustainable Development Goals, held 1 February 2014, in New York, USA, resulted in a series of policy briefs, whereof this is the fifth.
Highlights of Policy Brief #5:
  1. Social goals tend to be marginalized in the implementation of sustainable development while economic growth is prioritized often also at the cost of ecological goals. Many of these development issues are essentially distributional issues. These distributional challenges will be exacerbated by the need to limit the environmental utilization space (ecospace) on Earth and the consequent challenge of how this space will be equitably and inclusively shared among countries and people. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets developed by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG) against criteria for inclusive development.
  2. Inclusive development principles, tools, and evaluation criteria for the proposed SDGs fall into three clusters: inclusive development per sé; inclusive development in the context of the Anthropocene; and inclusive development from a relational perspective.
  3. Regarding inclusive development per sé , the SDGs currently proposed do not provide guidance to establish targets that would build capacity for the most marginalized populations so that they can learn about and access SDG-related opportunities. In the context of the Anthropocene, the SDGs neither adequately address ecosystemic limits nor the allocation of responsibilities, rights, and risks among countries and peoples in relation to fixed and diminishing resources. From a relational perspective, the wording of the OWG document lacks balance; it focuses more on effects than root causes. For example, while the document focuses on enhancing the rights of women and girls and ending gender disparities, it does not have a corresponding discussion on the policy instruments needed for dealing with the relations between men and women with respect to these rights.
  4. These governance issues can be addressed by developing context-relevant, appropriate targets and indicators, but this will require exceptional steering and leadership to ensure their successful implementation.

The workshop was organized by the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), the Earth System Governance Project and the POST2015 project (hosted by Tokyo Institute of Technology and sponsored by Ministry of Environment, Japan). It brought together international scholars and practitioners with expertise on global environmental governance to discuss some key questions relating to the governance of, and governance for, the post-2015 development agenda. The scope of the workshop was the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with particular focus on how integrated SDGs (of development and environmental agenda) could be governed in the post-2015 era.

Future briefs and reports will be published as they become available.

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