New Policy Brief Evaluates Inclusiveness of Sustainable Development Goals


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  • 2014•09•18

    A new policy brief published by UNU-IAS evaluates the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) developed by the UN General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG) against criteria for inclusive development. Sustainable Development Goals and Inclusive Development was produced by an international group of experts on environmental governance led by Prof. Joyeeta Gupta (University of Amsterdam).

    This policy brief is the fifth in the POST2015/UNU-IAS Policy Brief Series, which explores governance issues related to the SDGs.

    The brief sets out the following key messages:

    1. Social goals tend to be marginalized in the implementation of sustainable development while economic growth is prioritized, often at the cost of ecological goals. Many of these development issues are essentially distributional issues. These distributional challenges will be exacerbated by the need to limit the environmental utilization space (ecospace) on Earth and the consequent challenge of how this space will be equitably and inclusively shared among countries and people.
    2. Inclusive development principles, tools, and evaluation criteria for the proposed SDGs fall into three clusters:
      • Regarding inclusive development per sé, the SDGs currently proposed do not provide guidance to establish targets that would build capacity for the most marginalized populations so that they can learn about and access SDG-related opportunities.
      • In the context of the Anthropocene, the SDGs neither adequately address ecosystemic limits nor the allocation of responsibilities, rights, and risks among countries and peoples in relation to fixed and diminishing resources.
      • From a relational perspective, the wording of the OWG document lacks balance; it focuses more on effects than root causes
    3. These governance issues can be addressed by developing context-relevant, appropriate targets and indicators, but this will require exceptional steering and leadership to ensure their successful implementation.

    The POST2015/UNU-IAS Policy Brief Series is produced by the UNU-IAS project Governance for Sustainable Development, the Earth System Governance project, and the POST2015 project. Future briefs and reports will be published on the UNU-IAS website as they become available.

    For more information about the Governance for Sustainable Development project and the POST2015 project, please contact project leader Prof. Norichika Kanie (

  • Post2015 UNU-IAS Policy Brief 5

    Post2015 UNU-IAS Policy Brief 5 (763.8 KB PDF)