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Edited by Duncan French and Louis J. Kotzé

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Edited by Duncan French and Louis J. Kotzé

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Louis J. Kotzé and Duncan French

Humans only seem able to function well if our actions are limited by boundaries. History seems to teach us that unconstrained free will is a recipe for disaster; if left to our own devices, we will do whatever we want without much consideration of actual or potential future consequences. This truism - always characterised with noble exceptions - seems to be as accurate at the community level as it is (often) for the individual. And that is why we need boundaries: boundaries set limits, and these limits are meant to achieve, maintain and/or return us to what is perceived to be a desired condition.

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Edited by Rose-Liza Eisma-Osorio, Elizabeth A. Kirk and Jessica Steinberg Albin

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Carla Sbert

This chapter briefly examines whether a shift to ecological law is feasible and what it would entail.

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Edited by Peter Burdon, Klaus Bosselmann and Kirsten Engel

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Edited by Peter Burdon, Klaus Bosselmann and Kirsten Engel

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Edited by Peter Burdon, Klaus Bosselmann and Kirsten Engel

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Werner Scholtz and Michelle Barnard

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) collectively embody the global stance on the economic, social and environmental actions needed to achieve sustainable development. With reference to the environmental component of the SDG framework, one sees that four distinct Goals pertaining to different elements of planet earth, namely: the atmosphere (SDG 13), water resource – both fresh (SDG 6) and marine (SDG 14), as well as biodiversity (SDG 15) are included. The deconstruction of the environment in this way is strongly criticized by some as a step back from the single Millennium Development Goal (MDG) dealing with environmental sustainability (MDG 7) contained in the Millennium Declaration, 2000. The current approach to achieving sustainable development is now fragmented along the lines of the above-mentioned silo-ist division. Another point of criticism against the SDGs framework is the lack of explicit reference to international legal instruments pertaining to individual SDGs. This general critique is to some extent also true of the specific environmental SDGs where we see little cross-referencing to international environmental law that could provide a more solid legal base for the enforcement of the SDGs – which are legally non-binding. It is, however, possible to read in implicit references to a number of international environmental law instruments when analysing the wording of the Targets which underpin the individual environmental SDGs. In this chapter the legal nature of the SDGs, the fragmentation of the environment and the potential role of binding international law in solidifying the legal nature of the 2030 Agenda will be discussed in order to answer the question we pose in the title: the environment and the SDGs – are we on a road to nowhere?

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Karen Morrow

This chapter considers key factors shaping the pursuit of gender equality and women’s empowerment under the SDGs. In so doing, it examines some of the most significant concerns that may militate against the goals achieving these ends. These include the legacy of the Millennium Development Goals regime and in particular the limitations that have become apparent during its operation in progressing societal change through the goals, targets and indicators-oriented approach pioneered therein and pursued in the successor SDGs regime. The chapter also discusses the tensions inherent in the adoption of a discrete gender goal on the one hand and integration of gender under other goals on the other. The principal advantage of a discrete gender goal lies in according ‘headline’ status to the issue; integration in other goals, however, offers the potential to ‘mainstream’ gender coverage in key substantive areas. The concomitant disadvantages of these approaches are potentially ‘siloing’ gender issues and dilution of focus respectively. The use of indicators and their limitations, particularly in light of current levels of information and communications technology and data challenges are interrogated. The chapter concludes by examining the implications of the international community’s broader evasion of the interface between goals regimes and the global human rights agenda for gender issues. Discussion centres around the fact that, as gender concerns now enjoy strong coverage in human rights law, along with the legal status that this invokes, divorcing the SDGs regime from such protection stands to act to the particular disadvantage of women, negating a key route to securing accountability for the impacts of state action/inaction on the ground.