Project website:

About the project

The SDGs and Agenda 2030 aim to achieve fifteen sustainable development goals through global and multi-stakeholder partnerships (Goal 17) and inclusive governance mechanisms at all levels (Goal 16). Research in environmental social science shows that the specific ways in which partnership and inclusion are practised have major consequences for the achievement of the policy goals. The successful implementation of the Agenda 2030, therefore, depends on effective and legitimate partnerships and responsive, representative and participatory models of inclusion of major groups and stakeholders.

The aim of this project is to understand how these two processoriented goals are being taken up in existing SDG initiatives, how they are perceived and interpreted by key stakeholders and the ways in which different interpretations influence the perceived legitimacy and success of SDG initiatives.

To do this, we will examine and compare how the partnership model (Goal 17) and inclusive decision-making (Goal 16) is implemented differently, in a select number of substantive SDGs, namely Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities), Goal 13 (Climate Action). The study will provide preliminary results - based on fieldwork and interviews at the 2019 session of the UN's High Level Political Forum. The long term aim is to build a larger research proposal on the political effects of the partnerships discourse, effectiveness and inclusion in global sustainability governance.

Contact: Karin Bäckstrand