How Sustainable are the SDGs?

Date: 23 November 2015

Venue: UAntwerp - Stadscampus - Building C - Room C204 - Prinsstraat 13 - 2000 Antwerpen

Time: 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Short description: Lecture by Jan Vandemoortele

About the lecture
Within the framework of the  climate week at the University of Antwerp, and just before the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris, a lecture is organised on 'How sustainable are the SDGs?'  by Jan Vandemoortele. Discussant will be Carola Betzold of the IOB.

How Sustainable are the SDGs?
The SDGs contain more areas of concern than the MDGs. They were shaped after extensive participation and consultation. Yet, they fall short in several ways. First, they do not constitute a universal agenda, despite the oft-repeated claim they do. Like the MDGs, they still reflect the old worldview in terms of North-South divide. Second, their basic premise is incorrect. It is not extreme poverty that represents the biggest challenge the world is facing today, but extreme inequality. Although they pretend to do so, the SDGs do not address inequality. Third, the SDGs violate the three C’s that lay at root of the MDGs’ success: clear, concise and computable. A global agenda cannot be concise and comprehensive at the same time. With their 169 so-called targets, they could turn out to be the ‘unsustainable development goals’. Their fuzziness and complexity will make it exceedingly difficult to keep them in the limelight as much as the MDGs.

Jan Vandemoortele
Jan Vandemoortele, PhD. in Development Economics, served with the United Nations for over 30 years, both in the field (Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Pakistan) and at headquarters (New York)—with UNICEF, UNDP and ILO; and on loan to the World Bank. He is the co-architect of the Millennium Development Goals, a topic on which he has published widely. He now works as an independent researcher and lecturer. He is a regular speaker at universities across the world and at international conferences, at NGO and donor workshops, and at high schools and for cultural associations. He is member of the advisory board of various development institutes and initiatives.

Carola Betzold
Carola Betzold is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Development Research and Management at the University of Antwerp. Her research centers on environmental and in particular climate change politics. For her dissertation, Carola Betzold examined the role of non-governmental organisations in the UNFCCC negotiations; for her post-doctoral work, she turned to the links between development and adaptation in vulnerable developing countries, in particular small island states. Before coming to Antwerp, Carola was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Gothenburg. She obtained her PhD in International Relations from ETH Zurich.