Implementing the “Sustainable Development Goals”: Towards Addressing Three Key Governance Challenges—Collective Action, Trade-offs, and Accountability

  • Citation: Bowen, Kathryn J, Nicholas A Cradock-Henry, Florian Koch, James Patterson, Tiina Häyhä, Jess Vogt, and Fabiana Barbi. “Implementing the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’: Towards Addressing Three Key Governance Challenges—Collective Action, Trade-Offs, and Accountability.” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 26-27 (2017): 90–96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2017.05.002.
    • Topics:
    • Global Development
    • Keywords:
    • advancing governance
    • Sustainable Development Goals
    • collective action
    • trade-offs
    • accountability
    • environmental governance
    • international coordination and cooperation
    • nexus thinking

Realising the aspirations of the “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) to reduce inequality, limit ecological damage, and secure resilient livelihoods is a grand challenge for sustainability science, civil society and government. We identify three key governance challenges that are central for implementing the SDGs: (i) cultivating collective action by creating inclusive decision spaces for stakeholder interaction across multiple sectors and scales; (ii) making difficult trade-offs, focusing on equity, justice and fairness; and (iii) ensuring mechanisms exist to hold societal actors to account regarding decision-making, investment, action, and outcomes. The paper explains each of these three governance challenges, identifying possible avenues for addressing them, and highlights the importance of interlinkages between the three challenges.

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