As employees, researchers and lecturers of Ghent University, we want to express our deep concern for the 475 People Without Papers who have gone on hunger strike since May 23rd in the buildings of our colleagues at the VUB and ULB and in the Brussels House of Compassion. With this open letter we want to ask federal policy makers in this country to listen to their demands and work towards a clear and just policy.
In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched to great fanfare by the United Nations. Not only governments at different levels, but also NGOs and companies invest a great deal of time and energy into the SDG story. This year, a first state of affairs will be drawn up. There are still 10 years to go to reach the 17 general objectives and 169 sub-objectives. Time to evaluate and look ahead. This blog series by the Centre for Global Studies at Ghent University (Belgium) aims to foster critical debates on the SDGs.
We will publish weekly episodes, from different authors – including academics and voices from the development sector – discussing the SDGs from different angles.
This series is created in collaboration with MO*Magazine. The contributions will be published in English on this webpage and in Dutch on MO*Magazine.
Episode 2: Remco van de Pas (Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp) – The Coronavirus pandemic and the irrelevance of the SDGs. Time for a Jubilee.
Episode 3: Marc Maes (11.11.11-Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement) – Trade and the Sustainable Development Goals. Mission unfulfilled.
Episode 4: Francine Mestrum – How sustainable are the SDGs? We need more development, not post-development.
Episode 5: Chiara Macchi (Wageningen University & Research) – The SDGs and the urgency of human rights in times of crisis
Episode 6: Jonathan Matthysen (Oxfam Belgium) – The SDGs as double agent for progressive sustainable development
Episode 7: Bernard Mazijn (UGent) – Agenda 2030: the limits of multilateralism?
Episode 8: Brecht De Smet (UGent) – SDGs caught between development and underdevelopment. It is time for new alternatives based on old critiques
Episode 9: Tonia Novitz (University of Bristol) – The normative promise of sustainability for labour standards – and the limitations of the SDGs
Episode 10: Mia Kristin Häckl and Julia Schöneberg (University of Kassel) – It is time to abandon “development” goals and demand a post-2030 Utopia
Episode 11: Keya Khandaker and Lata Narayanaswamy (University of Leeds) – The unbearable whiteness of international development: the SDGS and decolonial feminisms
Episode 12: Thomas Vervisch (Ghent University) – 0,7 cake crumbs or actual cakes? Why we need a Minister of Global Affairs
As departments, research groups, unions, student organisations and individual employees, researchers and lectures of Ghent University, we condemn the violent Israeli attacks on the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and within Israel. We express our solidarity with the Palestinian people who have opposed, since 1948, a settler-colonial regime involved in ethnic cleansing, land annexations, population transfers and apartheid.
On radical solidarity and transnational home-making in resistance to hostile environments and militarized borders
April 22 – 8 pm (CET) – online
Image: Arash Kamali Sarvestani, Behrouz Boochani, Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, 2017, videostill
The Ghent Centre for Global Studies is happy to announce to this online event, co-organised with Z33 House of Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture and the Hostile Environments Research Platform. You are kindly invited to attend the screening of a conversation with the Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani, author of the award-winning No Friend But the Mountain. Writing from Manus Prison (2018), and his translator Omid Tofighian (University of Sydney), with Lorenzo Pezzani (Hostile Environments, Goldsmiths), followed by a panel discussion with Behrouz Boochani, Ashika Singh (Catholic University of Leuven) and Naïma Charkaoui, moderated by Luce Beeckmans (Ghent University).
Why we need a Minister of Global Affairs
Thomas Vervisch (Ghent University) fears an opportunity was missed in the distribution of ministerial posts in the new Belgian government: where is our Minister of Global Affairs instead of Development Cooperation? That would be a sign that our country and its policies are evolving from a neo-colonial to a global approach.
hosted by the Ghent Centre for Global Studies
The SDGs and decolonial feminisms
Keya Khandaker and Lata Narayanaswamy (University of Leeds) question the SDGs’ white, liberal feminist myopia, which focuses on the fiction of the ‘Third World Woman’ in need of saving or ‘empowerment’, rather than tackling structural inequalities. They propose a decolonial feminist approach to address the intersectional challenges we collectively face on the path towards global justice.
Following the critique, by Brecht De Smet, of the inherent shortcomings of the development paradigm, Julia Schöneberg and Mia Kristin Häckl argue for a post-2030 Utopia that starts now. They propose to ‘un-develop’ the Global North and to start from a multitude of radical alternatives from below.
How can SDGs contribute to the promotion of labour rights? Tonia Novitz argues that the rights of workers may, in principle, benefit from being embedded in a wider sustainability discourse. However, the text of the SDGs makes it nearly impossible to achieve transformational justice within and between generations.
It is time for new alternatives based on old critiques
Brecht De Smet (UGent) joins Jan Orbie and Sarah Delputte in their criticism of the SDGs, but goes one step further and dissects the underlying economic processes of development and underdevelopment. The underdevelopment of the Global South is not a temporary deviation, but rather the necessary condition for the development of the Global North. The growth model underlying this inequality is at odds with the sustainable transition that the SDGs aspire to.