A blueprint for what? From a critical policy discursive analysis of UN’s sustainable development goals to a constructive rearticulation for their application

Authors Nicolina Montesano Montessori, Alexander Lautensach
Published in Critical Policy Studies
Publication date 26 mei 2024
Research groups Communicatie in Digitale Transitie
Type Article


Halfway through the UN 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (2015–2030), the achievement of most of the proposed targets have been lagging behind, as has been confirmed in recent UN and UNESCO reports. While these reports mostly provide external features which cause the delay, this paper analyses and addresses possible features within the UN 2030 Agenda which might explain that shortfall. These include an unflagging belief in economic growth and a lack of an analysis of causes, as well as problems to do with costs and benefits of particular SDGs. Hence, the application of some SDGs might be counterproductive for the environment – and thus for sustainability. This article highlights outcomes of analyses of the Agenda, zooms in on SDG4 on education and presents alternative, more promising avenues concerning the SDGs. The 2030 Agenda and the alternative approaches are interpreted in terms of a shallow ecological (mechanistic) and a deep ecological (organic) worldview. We then propose ways forward for critical policy discourse analysis that may enhance the capacity of the UN 2030 Agenda in the direction of what they are meant to do: global cooperation toward a sustainable rearrangement of human life on earth.

On this publication contributed

Language Engels
Published in Critical Policy Studies
Key words Sustainable Development Goals, Gaia model, Ecological Footprint
Page range 1-20

Nicolien Montesano Montessori

Nicolien Montesano Montessori

  • Onderzoeker
  • Research group: Communicatie in Digitale Transitie