Henning Melber (EADI): Development Studies and the SDGs – Mapping an Agenda

On 25 September 2015 the United Nations General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets with its resolution Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Since then, the SDGs or Agenda 2030 have emerged as the ultimate reference point not only for sustainable development, but also often as a justification for applied development studies.

The SDGs did not fall from heaven. They were the result of a long process of negotiations. They do not cover all aspects related to development studies and cannot claim ultimate power of definition over development, notwithstanding their strong influence in the debate. While policy makers and the aid industry within international collaboration tend to link almost everything nowadays to the SDGs, development studies should not become hostage of such a limited perspective. Rather, development studies, while engaging with the SDGs and contributing to their implementation, should maintain a certain critical distance to the dominant norms and paradigms implemented.

This paper explores the concepts of development and development studies and their links to Agenda 2030. It revisits earlier efforts towards a new development paradigm and thereby looks beyond the SDGs. It examines the efforts towards sustainable development as a concept within an emancipatory discourse, which should be rooted in global solidarity, justice and human dignity. It thereby advocates an agenda, which aims at rather complementing if not transcending Agenda 2030, instead of being limited to full compliance within the confinement of the SDGs. This is motivated and guided by the interest to maintain ownership by scholars over development studies instead of surrendering the power of definition to the political and aid bureaucracy.

Read the full policy paper here: https://www.eadi.org/typo3/fileadmin/Documents/Publications/EADI_Policy_Paper/EADI_policy_paper_Melber_August_2017.pdf

Source: Website EADI, 12.09.2017