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After decades of establishing inter- and trans-national relationships and partnerships to solve humanity’s problems, in 2015 the UN adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a ‘blueprint’ for developed and developing countries to come together in concert to solve international problems. Five years later, in the midst of a global pandemic of COVID-19, fracturing national and global economies, and a rise of nationalist and isolationist leaders such as US President Trump, fears are being heard more and more often – from the public, from NGOs, and from governments alike – that the SDGs will not foster the significant action, changes, and partnerships required to meet their targets and stave off intensifying international calamities. With the future of the SDGs in jeopardy, this Global Insights panel asks: How sustainable are the Sustainable Development Goals? Are they still the transformative medium for global partnerships we hoped for, or are states once again ‘talking the talk’ but not walking the walk?
Derrick Cogburn is Professor in the School of International Service at American University. His research and teaching includes global information and communication technology and socioeconomic development, institutional mechanisms for global governance of information and communication technologies (ICTs), transnational policy networks and epistemic communities, and the sociotechnical infrastructure for geographically distributed collaboration in knowledge work. Cogburn directs the Center for Research on Collaboratories and Technology Enhanced Learning Communities, an award-winning social science research collaboratory investigating the social and technical factors that influence geographically distributed collaborative knowledge work, particularly between developed and developing countries. He also served as a member of the High-Level Panel of Advisors for the United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (UNGAID).
Ken Conca is Professor in the School of International Service at American University. His research and teaching focus on global environmental governance, environmental peacebuilding in war-torn societies, environmental politics and policy in the United Nations system, water governance, and environmental policy analysis. His most recent books are The Oxford Handbook of Water Politics and Policy and An Unfinished Foundation: The United Nations and Global Environmental Governance. He is the editor of the widely used teaching anthology Green Planet Blues. Dr. Conca’s research has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including the Grawemeyer Prize for Ideas Improving World Order; the International Studies Association’s Harold and Margaret Sprout Award, for best book on international environmental affairs; the Chadwick Alger Prize, for best book in the field of International Organization; and the Al-Moumin Environmental Peacebuilding Award. He is a member of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Expert Advisory Group on Conflict and Peacebuilding.
Marie-Claire Cordonier-Segger is a Full Professor of Law at SEED in the Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, and International Advisor of the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change (IC3). She serves as C-EENRG and LCIL Fellow in the University of Cambridge and Senior Director of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), and received the international Justitia Regnorum Fundamentum Award in 2016. Her research focuses on international law and governance related to climate change adaptation, mitigation and finance, natural resources, investment, trade and the green economy, among other sustainable development challenges.
Vanessa Schweizer is an Associate Professor of Knowledge Integration at the University of Waterloo in the Faculty of Environment, Director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation, and faculty member at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. She researches socioeconomic development as a determinant of climate risk and was a Contributing Author to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Nobel-prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.