Sustainable Development Goals Perspectives

Elsevier, 23rd July 2020

The new 2030 sustainable development agenda is likely to dominate policy and academic debates at both national and international levels over next 15 years and beyond. It is, therefore, a crucial time to critically reflect how the SDGs are likely to shape - and be shaped by - the wider research community. Each peer-reviewed paper will address the common question of: “how is the SDG agenda influencing scholarly debates in different research areas, and vice-versa?”. We foresee these papers and the special issue providing disciplinary and trans-disciplinary perspectives, and provoking discussion and debate to inform the policy-science interface around the SDGs and the broader 2030 sustainable development agenda.


World Development, Volume 127, 2020,104770, ISSN 0305-750X,

This special issue of World Development is part of the SDG Perspectives Series, a collaborative, interdisciplinary endeavour whose aim is to interrogate the gap between academic and policy discourses underpinning the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The articles offer rich overviews on key goals, and provide examples, research evidence, and empirical data that illustrate important challenges and new lines of enquiry. By narrowing down the discussion on specific aspects of the SDGs that deserve particular attention, the special issue offers a nuanced perspective on the potential and limitations of the 2030 Agenda.

World Development, Volume 118, 2019, Pages 1-14, ISSN 0305-750X,

The paper presents an integrated literature review organised around three disciplinary perspectives central to realizing SDG 2: ecology and agricultural sciences; nutrition and public health; and political economy and policy science. It argues that the pathway to achieving Zero Hunger should centre on place-based, adaptive and participatory solutions that simultaneously attend to local institutional capacities, agroecosystem diversification and ecological management, and the quality of local diets.

World Development, Volume 118, 2019, Pages 27-38, ISSN 0305-750X,

This paper contributes to goal 4 by calling for a careful assessment of the politics of education reform, particularly teacher policy reforms. It identifies three special challenges linked to these reforms: they are generally contentious, often threatening the institutional interests of well-organized and politically powerful teacher unions; their implementation is opaque, as impact depends on classroom-level change that is difficult for reformers to monitor; and benefits are long-term, usually well beyond the political tenure of reform champions.

World Development, Volume 113, 2019, Pages 368-380, ISSN 0305-750X

This paper unpacks the tensions embedded within SDG 8, particularly how its focus on GDP and per capita growth is problematic because it excludes much of social reproductive work. It argues that both gender and labour rights have to underpin SDG 8 if its promise of inclusive, sustainable and decent work is to be realised.

World Development, Volume 112, 2018, Pages 150-162, ISSN 0305-750X

Drawing on major research evidence and key debates, this review article proposes a framework of mobility equity as part of SDG 10, which foresees the reduction of inequalities within and among countries by 2030. The main question addressed is how forms of social, human and digital mobility, including migration, can contribute to reduced inequalities and positive development outcomes.

World Development, Volume 126, 2020, 104706, ISSN 0305-750X

This paper contributes to the debate on the agency of the South in shaping global norms by focusing on the adoption of sustainable development as the consensus framework for the SDGs. Based on documentary and archival research, interviews with stakeholders, and direct participant observation of the SDG negotiations and consultations, the paper chronicles the ideas originating from the South in the emergence and subsequent evolution of the sustainable development concept and the adoption of the SDG.

World Development, Volume 118, 2019, Pages 106-117, ISSN 0305-750X

This article assesses governance challenges at the local level associated with SDG 6, which pledges to ensure sustainable water and sanitation for all. It reviews prior shortcomings in global monitoring efforts, as well as local governance challenges and potential barriers to implementation facing SDG 6.

Health Policy, Volume 124, Issue 6, June 2020, Pages 581-590

In 2017, the UN adopted a global SDG indicator framework, calling for complementary national and regional indicators to be collected by member countries, while the UN Habitat developed an indicator action framework specifically for cities. This paper examined the extent to which using UN Sustainable Development Goal indicators framework will help cities evaluate their efforts to deliver sustainability and health outcomes. It identified inconsistencies between the two two frameworks. Many of the SDG indicators assessed outcomes, rather than the ‘upstream’ policies and interventions required to deliver outcomes on-the-ground. Conversely, the UN Habitat framework incorporated intervention indicators, but excluded health outcome indicators. We proposed a more comprehensive approach to benchmarking, monitoring and evaluating policies designed to achieve healthy and sustainable cities and assessing spatial inequities.

Health Policy, Volume 124, Issue 6, June 2020, Pages 591-598

Infrastructure is a global multi-trillion dollar market presenting many opportunities and risks for sustainable development. This article aims to foster better conceptualisation of the connections and tensions between infrastructure policy and public health in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially ‘good health and wellbeing’ (number 3) and ‘industry, innovation and infrastructure’ (number 9), based on findings from interviews with a purposive sample of senior practicing Australian infrastructure policy makers.