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The unbearable whiteness of international development

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. 

SDGs caught between development and underdevelopment

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.

The SDGs and the urgency of human rights in times of crisis

International human rights treaties are notably absent from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Although human rights and SDGs could in theory reinforce each other, Chiara Macchi (Wageningen University & Research) argues that the politically reassuring language of ‘goals’ and ‘commitments’ may fail to prioritize human rights and diffuse accountability of states and corporations.

How sustainable are the SDGs?

We need more development, not post-development

SDGs are ‘sustainable’, in the sense that poverty reduction has dominated development discourse for a very long time. Francine Mestrum criticizes exactly this: the old development agenda of radical economic reforms has been watered down in favour of a neoliberal agenda and focus on poverty. What we need is not ‘post-development’, but more development within a restructured global order.