The SDGs as integrating force in global governance? Challenges and opportunities

M Bogers, F Biermann, A Kalfagianni, R. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In 2015, the United Nations agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an “integrated and indivisible” set of policy objectives with the aim, among others, to unite the diverse and vast system of international organizations under one shared normative agenda. And yet, have these SDGs really become such an integrative force in global governance? Our conclusion here is negative, and our research suggests that the SDGs have not lived up to these high expectations. We find instead that the 17 global goals have not been taken up by a substantial group of international organizations, and some organizations rather cherry-pick those goals that best fit their own agenda and interests. To overcome these challenges and to fulfill the promise of integrated global sustainability governance enshrined in the SDGs, we propose three urgent actions: first, to further push the use of the SDGs across all international organizations, in particular regional organizations outside the United Nations system; second, to facilitate better collaboration across policy domains; and third, to focus attention on those SDGs that are so far “left behind.”

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-164
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Environmental Agreements-Politics Law and Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the European Research Council through the Advanced Grant project GLOBALGOALS (grant number 788001) and the Starting Grant project PROBLEMSHIFTING (grant number 949252).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

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