Sustainable Development Goals
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Sustainable Development Goals

Law, Theory and Implementation

Edited by Duncan French and Louis J. Kotzé

Building on the previously established Millennium Development Goals, which ran from 2000-2015, the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the UN with a roadmap for development until 2030. This topical book explores the associated legal and normative implications of these SDGs, which in themselves are not legally binding.
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Chapter 2: The Sustainable Development Goals, anthropocentrism and neoliberalism

Sam Adelman


This chapter provides an existential critique of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) based upon two main arguments. First, growth-driven development is intrinsically ecologically unsustainable because it destroys ecosystems and breaches planetary boundaries. The SDGs are the latest incarnation of sustainable development, a concept widely criticised as oxymoronic because it erroneously fosters the illusion of combining endless economic growth on a finite planet, social justice, and environmental protection. Second, the SDGs perpetuate an anthropocentric conception of development and sustainability antithetical to effective responses to the rupture of the Earth system in the Anthropocene. The chapter concludes that the model of development envisaged in the SDGs is unlikely to enhance ecological sustainability and thus threatens to increase impoverishment.

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