Book review of ‘Governing Through Goals’


The latest issue of Transnational Environmental Law (Volume 6 – Issue 3 – November 2017) features a new article by Dario Piselli and Riccardo Pavoni, Programme Manager and Academic Coordinator of the the Jean Monnet Module in European Union Law and Sustainable Development, respectively.

The article reviews ‘Governing Through Goals: Sustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation‘, a compelling volume edited by Norichika Kanie (Senior Research Fellow at UNU-IAS) and Frank Biermann (Professor of Global Sustainability Governance at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development) which analyses the challenges and opportunities of goal-setting as a governance strategy in the light of the adoption, in September 2015, of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Governing through Goals constitutes a compelling contribution to the academic study of the SDGs as a governance strategy and represents a timely reminder that the hard part of the game begins now. Two years after the UN Sustainable Development Summit, the pace of implementation of the SDGs is still insufficient to deliver on the promise of transformative change that surrounded their adoption.

More importantly, there are two inherent risks in wrongly assuming that goal setting alone will move the world towards sustainable development. One such risk is arguably the central concern of this book: that enthusiasm towards goal setting does not appear to be matched by a parallel political will to move away from ‘governance-as-usual’ and devise innovative arrangements to help in managing global public goods in the Anthropocene. The other is the risk of an inadequate level of country ownership of the SDGs, leading to developments at the national level that simply realign existing policies with the SDG framework or fail to effectively integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development.”

The book, published by MIT Press, is available here.
You can read the review here.

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