Globalgoals 2020


In June 2020, the GLOBALGOALS research project organised the International SDG Research Symposium GLOBALGOALS2020.
About 800 participants from all over the world tuned and attended the virtual three-day event.

In more than thirty sessions, researchers from a diverse field of disciplines presented their research about the effectiveness of global goals as a governance mechanism, with special emphasis on the Sustainable Development Goals as the most comprehensive global-goal setting effort to-date.

In four plenary sessions, prominent scholars in the field of sustainability governance further discussed the actual potential of the SDGs in transforming our societies, their effectiveness in achieving the aspiration of leaving no one behind as well as changing institutional landscapes, and how the COVID-19 pandemic affects our pathways to more just and sustainable societies.


Plenary I: The Transformative Potential of the SDGs

The 2030 Agenda aims at nothing less than ‘Transforming Our World’. But to what extent can the 17 SDGs and 169 targets trigger a real transformation towards sustainable development? The opening panel raises this question and takes stock of the past five years of implementing the SDGs.

The Steering Effects of SDGs: Research and Policy Challenges
Frank Biermann, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

The Vision behind the SDGs and Resulting Challenges
Pamela Chasek, Manhattan College, United States

Plenary II: The Universal Aspiration of the SDGs

In contrast to previous development agendas, the SDGs have a universal aspiration and turn all nations into ‘developing’ countries. However, does the current framework allow for global inclusiveness and equity? This plenary addresses this question and discusses existing gaps in equal representation at global level.

The Second Generation Challenges for SDG Delivery and their Implications for Inclusiveness
Debapriya Bhattacharya, Centre for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh, and Southern Voice

Gender in the Transition to Sustainable Energy for All
Sheila Oparaocha, ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy, The Netherlands

Linking Environmental Emergency and the Reduction of Inequalities: A Universal Need for Transformation with Specific National Pathways
Sébastian Treyer, Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, France

Plenary III: Revisiting Multi-Layered Governance for Sustainable Development

To achieve sustainable development, coordinated efforts across governmental levels are needed. The SDGs provide numerous incentives for collaboration. This plenary session looks at key actors at different governmental levels and examines how the SDGs are changing existing institutional landscapes for achieving sustainable development.

Policy Coherence and the SDGs: Tools for Governing Trade-offs
Måns Nilsson, Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden

Implementing the 2030 Agenda: On the Road for Socio-ecological Transformation or Remaining in the Niche?
Imme Scholz, German Development Institute, Germany

Leading the Horses to Water: The SDGs in the Australian Federal System
John Thwaites, Monash University, Australia

Plenary IV: Wrapping Up and Looking Ahead

At the time of our Symposium, five years of SDG implementation have passed, and only ten more years are left to achieve this ambitious agenda for sustainable development. The year 2022 – which will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the 1972 Stockholm conference and the thirtieth anniversary of the ‘Rio Earth Summit’ – is the next milestone in global diplomacy to accelerate efforts and adjust current programmes. What are the steps now to be taken?

SIDS Perspectives on SDG Implementation: Policy Coherence Promise and Challenges
Michelle Scobie, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago

Crisis as Opportunity: Using the Global Pandemic to Catalyse a Just and Sustainable Recovery
John Thompson, University of Sussex, United Kingdom

Global goals as a governance mechanism - a podcast with Sir Richard Jolly
Curated by Abbie Yunita and Francesco S. Montesano.

“The SDGs open the door for serious action by every country and by every community” – Sir Richard Jolly

In this podcast global goals expert Sir Richard Jolly tells us about his personal experience with goals as a governance instrument, why he thinks the SDGs represent a unique endeavour in international policy-making, and explains what is needed to turn the universal aspirations of the SDGs into practice.

Sir Richard was the former director of the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University (1972-81), deputy executive director of UNICEF (1982-95), special advisor to the Administrator of UNDP (1996-2000), principal coordinator of the Human Development Report, and codirector of the UN Intellectual History Project (1999-2010), among numerous other functions, awards and recognitions – including Richard’s membership, in 1959, of the British Alpine Hannibal Expedition, which sought to recreate Hannibal’s route across the Alps with the aid of an elephant.