Towards a Global Sustainable Development Agenda Built on Social-Ecological Resilience

Global Sustainability 6, e8, 1-14 (2023), https://doi.org/10.1017/sus.2023.8

USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 24-3

14 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2023

See all articles by Murray W. Scown

Murray W. Scown

Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS)

Robin Kundis Craig

University of Kansas

Craig Allen

Leader of the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Lance Gunderson

Emory University - Department of Environmental Studies

David G. Angeler

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) - Dept. of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment

Jorge H Garcia

Universidad de los Andes

Ahjond S. Garmestani

Government of the United States of America - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Date Written: July 4, 2023

Abstract

The United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) are past their halfway point and the next global development agenda will soon need to be developed. While laudable, the SDGs have received strong criticism from many, and scholars have proposed that adopting complex adaptive or social–ecological system approaches would increase the effectiveness of the agenda. Here we dive deeper into these discussions to explore how the theory of social–ecological resilience could serve as a strong foundation for the next global sustainable development agenda.

We identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current SDGs by determining which of the 169 targets address each of 43 factors affecting social–ecological resilience that we have compiled from the literature. The SDGs with the strongest connections to social–ecological resilience are the environment-focus goals (SDGs 2, 6, 13, 14, 15), which are also the goals consistently under-prioritised in the implementation of the current agenda. In terms of the 43 factors affecting social–ecological resilience, the SDG strengths lie in their communication, inclusive decision making, financial support, regulatory incentives, economic diversity, and transparency in governance and law. On the contrary, ecological factors of resilience are seriously lacking in the SDGs, particularly with regards to scale, cross-scale interactions, and non-stationarity.

Keywords: Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, social-ecological resilience, socio-ecological resiliences

Suggested Citation

Scown, Murray W. and Craig, Robin Kundis and Allen, Craig and Gunderson, Lance and Angeler, David G. and Garcia, Jorge H and Garmestani, Ahjond S., Towards a Global Sustainable Development Agenda Built on Social-Ecological Resilience (July 4, 2023). Global Sustainability 6, e8, 1-14 (2023), https://doi.org/10.1017/sus.2023.8, USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 24-3, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4500436

Murray W. Scown (Contact Author)

Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS) ( email )

Robin Kundis Craig

University of Kansas ( email )

School of Law
1535 W. 15th St.
Lawrence, KS 66045
United States

Craig Allen

Leader of the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit ( email )

Lincoln, NE
United States

Lance Gunderson

Emory University - Department of Environmental Studies ( email )

Mathematics Center
400 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-2429 (Phone)

David G. Angeler

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) - Dept. of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment ( email )

Uppsala, S-901 83
Sweden

Jorge H Garcia

Universidad de los Andes ( email )

Ahjond S. Garmestani

Government of the United States of America - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ( email )

Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
United States

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