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Special Issue "Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Mark Elder

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, 2108-11 Kamiyamaguchi, Hayama, Kanagawa, 240-0115, Japan
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +81-46-855-3870
Fax: +81 46 855 3809
Interests: environmental policy and governance; sustainable development; regional cooperation; air pollution; green economy; environment and trade; political economy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The next step is implementation. There was a general consensus that the first global agreement on sustainable development in 1992, Agenda 21, was not implemented well. Insufficient implementation was the main theme of both its 10 and 20 year reviews (the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and Rio+20). In contrast, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were considered to have been implemented more effectively, so Rio+20 called for the establishment of SDGs to be modelled to some extent after the MDGs. The means of implementation (MOI) are addressed not only in SDG 17 and the targets under the other 16 goals, but also in a separate agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), which was adopted by the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in July 2015. SDGs are also related to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, adopted in December 2015, since Goal 13 on climate references the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Now one year has passed since the adoption of SDGs, so it is timely to consider issues related to their implementation. On one hand, in some countries, implementation may not have started yet, or may be in the initial stages. The SDGs are very complex, with 17 goals and 169 targets; the number of indicators has still not been finalized, but is expected to be over 200. There are many challenges ranging from a lack of gathered data to weak institutions. On the other hand, some more enthusiastic countries have already begun implementation, or have already made progress on institutional arrangements for implementation.

Implementation is closely related to governance, which in turn, has many different aspects such as decision making, monitoring and evaluation, accountability, transparency, etc. Governance also occurs at multiple levels including global, regional, national, and subnational. Mainstreaming sustainability issues into other policy areas is one key issue. Lack of data on many targets and indicators is also a major challenge to implementation and an obstacle to effective governance.  

Many different stakeholders are expected to be involved implementation. The SDGs were created by national governments, which bear the final responsibility. However, major efforts from business and civil society will be indispensable, and cities and other subnational governments will play key roles. The UN, multilateral development banks, and other international organizations will assist, not only at the global level, but also at the regional, national, and local levels.

A key issue is to what extent an integrated approach to implementing the SDGs is feasible. On one hand, the SDGs are intended to promote an integrated approach, going beyond the traditional siloed “three pillars” approach (economic, social, and environmental pillars). The “nexus” approach between food, water, and energy is one important example of an integrated approach, but other nexuses between other combinations of areas can also be considered. Many goals have interlinkages, and some explicitly call for integrated approaches, such as integrated water management. On the other hand, 169 targets may seem overwhelming for many countries, and some argue that there is a need to prioritize, especially for countries with insufficient capacity for implementation. The governance structures of many countries are not well-suited for integrated approaches. The siloed approach has prevailed for a long time and is deeply rooted in both governmental and non-governmental organizations, so a key question is what kind of strategies could effectively engage the actors working in different silos and who do not know about or are not interested in sustainable development. The capacity for implementation of national governments as well as of non-state actors needs to be enhanced.

This Special Issue welcomes papers on all aspects related to the implementation of the SDGs. Papers may focus on one goal, or a subset of goals, or the SDGs as a whole. Some countries have already started implementation, but others have not. There are many challenges, ranging from a lack of gathered data to weak institutions. Implementation is closely related to governance, which, in turn, has many different aspects, such as decision-making, monitoring and evaluation, accountability, transparency, etc. Governance also occurs at multiple levels including global, regional, national, and subnational. Mainstreaming sustainability issues into other policy areas is one key issue. Lack of data on many targets and indicators is also a major challenge to implementation and an obstacle to effective governance. The feasibility of an integrated approach to implementing the SDGs, as well as what kind of strategies could effectively engage the actors working in different silos and who do not know about or are not interested in sustainable development, are key issues. Many different stakeholders are expected to be involved implementation. The SDGs were created by national governments, which bear the final responsibility. However, major efforts from business and civil society will be indispensable, and cities and other subnational governments will play key roles The UN, multilateral development banks, and other international organizations will assist, not only at the global level, but also at the regional, national, and local levels. The capacity of all stakeholders, including governments, as well as non-state actors, will need to be enhanced.

Prof. Hironori Hamanaka
Dr. Mark Elder
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable development goals
  • means of implementation
  • governance
  • policy integration
  • nexus approach

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Open AccessArticle A Systemic Tool and Process for Sustainability Assessment
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1909; doi:10.3390/su9101909
Received: 3 August 2017 / Revised: 15 September 2017 / Accepted: 17 October 2017 / Published: 23 October 2017
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Abstract
Sustainability assessment is a growing concern worldwide with United Nations’ Agenda 2030 being implemented. As sustainability refers to the consideration of environmental, social and economic issues in light of cultural, historic—retrospective and prospective—and institutional perspectives, appropriate tools are needed to ensure the complete
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Sustainability assessment is a growing concern worldwide with United Nations’ Agenda 2030 being implemented. As sustainability refers to the consideration of environmental, social and economic issues in light of cultural, historic—retrospective and prospective—and institutional perspectives, appropriate tools are needed to ensure the complete coverage of these aspects and allow the participation of multiple stakeholders. This article presents a scientifically robust and flexible tool, developed over the last 25 years and tested in different cultural and development contexts to build a framework for sustainability assessment of policies, strategies, programs and projects in light of Agenda 2030. A selected case study conducted on a major mining project in Québec (Canada) illustrates the Sustainable Development Analytical Grid performance for sustainability assessment. This tool and process is part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals Acceleration Toolkit; it is one of the most adaptable, addresses all 17 SDGs and is fully accessible for free. Other advantages and limitations of the tool and process are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
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Open AccessArticle Urban Food Systems Strategies: A Promising Tool for Implementing the SDGs in Practice
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1707; doi:10.3390/su9101707
Received: 19 July 2017 / Revised: 18 September 2017 / Accepted: 19 September 2017 / Published: 23 September 2017
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Abstract
The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the transition from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), heralds an important turn in global sustainability policy. With implementation now taking place in all countries, regardless of GDP, a key question is
[...] Read more.
The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the transition from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), heralds an important turn in global sustainability policy. With implementation now taking place in all countries, regardless of GDP, a key question is how affluent governments in large metropolitan areas can effectively contribute to global sustainable development. This paper argues that urban food systems strategies—a relatively new tool in local policymaking in the Global North—have the potential to amplify and consolidate national and international efforts in this direction and facilitate a more synergistic approach to SDG implementation. An in-depth comparative analysis of the 2030 Agenda and the sustainable food systems strategies of five of the ten largest cities in North America—New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Toronto—helps to uncover key gaps and areas of convergence between goals, objectives, and evaluation frameworks. Goal- and indicator-level analyses cast light on promising areas for cross-jurisdictional cooperation and suggest that, while not without limitations, urban food systems strategies offer manifold pathways to streamline global, national, and local implementation efforts and effectively forward the 2030 Agenda over the next decade. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
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Open AccessCommentary Managing the ‘Monitoring Imperative’ in the Context of SDG Target 6.3 on Water Quality and Wastewater
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1572; doi:10.3390/su9091572
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 21 August 2017 / Accepted: 29 August 2017 / Published: 4 September 2017
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Abstract
Monitoring the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 for water and sanitation builds on monitoring frameworks that were developed for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP). Yet, since SDG 6 goes beyond the MDG focus on drinking water
[...] Read more.
Monitoring the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 for water and sanitation builds on monitoring frameworks that were developed for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP). Yet, since SDG 6 goes beyond the MDG focus on drinking water and sanitation, it also significantly expands monitoring and reporting responsibilities. The target to improve water quality (Target 6.3) calls for water quality monitoring and data reporting that are likely to pose a significant challenge to countries that lack an established monitoring program. At the same time, redundant burdens may be imposed on countries that already have established programs and report out water quality data to inter- or supranational agencies. In this context, there is a risk that the intention that water quality data should serve as a basis for evidence-based decision making will become subsidiary to the resource-intensive activities of data collection and management. Alternatively, policies could be designed based on historical experience with measures of proven effectiveness, prioritizing policies that could have multiple benefits. Policies could be implemented in parallel with the development of monitoring programs and conventional monitoring data could be complemented by information gained from sources such as remote sensing and unstructured data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
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