The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Transformative Change through the Sustainable Development Goals?

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Editorial | Open Access

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Transformative Change through the Sustainable Development Goals?


  • Sabine Weiland European School of Political and Social Sciences, Lille Catholic University, France
  • Thomas Hickmann Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Markus Lederer Institute of Political Science, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany
  • Jens Marquardt Institute of Political Science, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany
  • Sandra Schwindenhammer Department of Political Science, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany


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Abstract:  The 2030 Agenda of the United Nations comprises 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 sub-targets which serve as a global reference point for the transition to sustainability. The agenda acknowledges that different issues such as poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, environmental degradation, among others, are intertwined and can therefore only be addressed together. Implementing the SDGs as an ‘indivisible whole’ represents the actual litmus test for the success of the 2030 Agenda. The main challenge is accomplishing a more integrated approach to sustainable development that encompasses new governance frameworks for enabling and managing systemic transformations. This thematic issue addresses the question whether and how the SDGs set off processes of societal transformation, for which cooperation between state and non-state actors at all political levels (global, regional, national, sub-national), in different societal spheres (politics, society, and economy), and across various sectors (energy, transportation, food, etc.) are indispensable. In this editorial, we first introduce the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs by providing an overview of the architecture of the agenda and the key challenges of the current implementation phase. In a second step, we present the eleven contributions that make up the thematic issue clustering them around three themes: integration, governance challenges, and implementation.

Keywords:  2030 Agenda; governance; implementation; integration; Sustainable Development Goals; sustainability; transformation; transition; United Nations

Published:   26 February 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v9i1.4191


© Sabine Weiland, Thomas Hickmann, Markus Lederer, Jens Marquardt, Sandra Schwindenhammer. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.