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Taskforce on the Sustainable Development Goals

This taskforce brings together an interdisciplinary global group of scholars and practitioners to advance the scientific understanding of ‘governance by global goals’ and in particular the steering effects of the Sustainable Development Goals.


The Earth System Governance ‘Taskforce on the Sustainable Development Goals’ brings together an interdisciplinary global group of scholars and practitioners to advance the scientific understanding of ‘governance by global goals’ and in particular the steering effects of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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The Taskforce aims to build, invigorate and lead a diverse research community by providing an open forum for developing and exchanging cutting-edge research and policy studies on to what extent and under what conditions governance through goals can be effective. The Taskforce covers, but is not limited to, the steering effects of the Sustainable Development Goals on five thematic issues: implementation of global goals over time and at different scales; institutional integration and policy coherence through global goal setting; inclusiveness in goal setting and implementation; effectiveness of protecting planetary integrity through global goals; and methodological challenges and opportunities of studying these questions.

In 2022, five working groups were formed:

  • WG Global Governance and the SDGs: HLPF and the VNR process led by Jecel Censoro, Melanie van Driel, Felicitas Fritzsche, Kristina Jönsson
  • WG National Policy Integration of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs led by Montserrat Koloffon Rosas, Ivonne Lobos Alva, Sabine Weiland
  • WG Sub-National Initiatives for SDG Implementation led by Basil Bornemann, Shirin Malek Pour, Dominique McCollum Coy
  • WG Private Governance and Partnerships for the SDGs led by Fredrik Dahlmann, Lena Partzsch, Rob Raven
  • WG SDG Education and Learning led by Aurélie Charles, Thiago Gehre, Cristina Inoue, Rodrigo Ramiro

The Taskforce was launched at an Earth System Governance Speaker Series webinar in April 2021. It builds on an established network of leading scholars engaged in the study and practice of the Sustainable Development Goals, following the organization of the so far largest international research conference on the Sustainable Development Goals at Utrecht University in June 2020. In 2022, the SDG Impact Assessment was released with Cambridge University Press as part of the Earth System Governance book series. The assessment provides the most comprehensive data compilation, network mapping, and comparative institutional analysis of the evolution, effectiveness and future prospects of ‘global governance through goals’ as a central novel steering mechanism in world politics. Written by a team of over sixty experts and drawing on over 3000 scientific studies, this volume is a key resource for policymakers, activists and scholars of sustainable development.

The Political Impact of the Sustainable Development Goals

Practically, the Taskforce facilitates dialogue and exchange through an interactive website, a webinar series, interdisciplinary workshops and panels on thematic issues at Earth System Governance conferences and other venues, along with public statements at major political events and joint publications that will include special issues of high-impact scientific journals and edited volumes with major university presses. All Earth System Governance fellows, at all career stages, are invited to join this Taskforce to jointly study the Sustainable Development Goals and their steering effects on the governance of sustainability challenges.

For more information about joining the Taskforce, please contact the taskforce convenors by e-mailing

Taskforce Convenors

  • Frank Biermann, co-editor of the 2022 SDG Impact Assessment, and Utrecht University
  • Thomas Hickmann, co-editor of the 2022 SDG Impact Assessment, and Lund University
  • Carole-Anne Sénit, co-editor of the 2022 SDG Impact Assessment, and Utrecht University
  • Yixian Sun, contributing author of the 2022 SDG Impact Assessment, and University of Bath

Scientific Steering Group

The scientific steering group of the Taskforce draws on the network of scholars that compiled the SDG Impact Assessment.

  • Marianne Beisheim, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Germany
  • Steven Bernstein, University of Toronto, Canada
  • Debapriya Bhattacharya, Centre for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh
  • Pamela Chasek, Manhattan College, United States
  • Louis J. Kotzé, North-West University, South Africa
  • Måns Nilsson, Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden
  • Andrea Ordóñez Llanos, Southern Voice, Ecuador
  • Rob Raven, Monash University, Australia
  • Imme Scholz, German Development Institute, Germany
  • Michelle Scobie, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago
  • John Thompson, Sussex Sustainability Research Programme, United Kingdom
  • John Thwaites, Monash University, Australia
  • Sébastien Treyer, Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, France
  • Detlef van Vuuren, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Utrecht University, The Netherlands


  • Ronju Ahammad, Charles Darwin University, Australia
  • Timothy A. A. Balag’kutu, INRSD, Ghana
  • Maya Bogers, Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • Aurelie Charles, University of Bath, United Kingdom
  • Elena Esther, Cirkovic. Helsinki University, Finland
  • Frederik Dahlmann, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
  • Melanie van Driel, Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • Okechukwu Enechi, VU Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Nafiseh Jafarzadeh, National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington, DC, United States
  • Somya Joshi Senior, Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden
  • Jan Kunnas, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Cordula Ott, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Åsa Persson, Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden
  • Shirin Malek Pour, Monash University, Australia
  • Debdas Ray, Asutosh College Kolkata, India
  • Lauren Rickards, RMIT Centre for Urban Research Melbourne, Australia
  • Alexandre San Martim Portes, Australian National University, Australia
  • Marjanneke Vijge, Utrecht University, Netherlands

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