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.
At the launch of this blog series Jan Orbie and Sarah Delputte ask critical questions about the SDGs. Their colleague Bernard Mazijn (Ghent University) provides the necessary historical background to understand the political compromise that is Agenda 2030.
Jonathan Matthysen (Oxfam Belgium) agrees that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) legitimize the current economic system. He argues, however, that progressive forces can also turn the SDGs into a weapon against neoliberalism.
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.
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.
This blog series was launched with a sharp opinion by Jan Orbie and Sarah Delputte on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular on the role of trade in them. Marc Maes (11.11.11-Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement) agrees that the SDGs do not question the neoliberal paradigm. However, he argues that trade policy does play an important role in the Agenda 2030. He systematically illustrates how the different trade provisions have been barely implemented. Trade policy should not only support the Agenda 2030, but it should also become more sustainable. European Union (EU) trade policy has been failing in this regard.
Time for a Jubilee
According to Remco van de Pas (Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp), SDG3 on health and wellbeing has been irrelevant to address global challenges in this area. The futility of this SDG and limits of the World Health Organization are today painfully clear in the approach of the covid-19 pandemic. Although the crisis was not unexpected, WHO member states have insufficiently invested and left much scope for charities and private investors. The author scrutinizes global public health policies and advocates the creation of a new Jubilee Campaign for indebted countries.