Theory, policy and practice perspectives from Royal Holloway

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Sustainable Development Goals: Something new or more of the same?

sdg-logoThe 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets were described by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as a ‘to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success‘. They are seen as building on the 15 years of the Millennium Development Goals, which succeeded in providing a framework for global development cooperation and achieving significant progress in the reduction of extreme poverty, child and maternal mortality, and improved access to primary education. However, the MDGs were criticised for a top-down, Northern-centric framing of development definitions and development practice.

The SDGs were developed through a much more participatory process than the MDGs, with outputs including A Million Voices: The World We Want report.  This is both a response to previous criticisms, but also reflects the way Continue reading


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Campaigning for an Urban Sustainability Goal


London Skyline. Credit: Katie Willis

Goal 11 of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’. David Simon, Director of Mistra Urban Futures (MUF), based at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg on secondment from RHUL Geography,  was actively engaged in the campaign for the inclusion of a specifically urban SDG. As part of the process, he hosted two key Campaign workshops, at RHUL in August 2014 and at Chalmers in June 2015, bringing participants from diverse member organisations and backgrounds together to define and refine the targets and respective indicators for inclusion in what has become Goal 11.
Urban areas worldwide are extremely heterogeneous and it was essential to minimise the number of separate targets and respective indicators while still capturing essential dimensions of urbanity Continue reading

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On Humanity, Poverty & Measurements

What the world learned from the MDGs is that change is possible” (Sabina Alkire, 2015)

MPI indicators

MPI Indicators. Source:

On Monday 23rd of November 2015, we attended a Cumberland Conversation event with Professor Sabina Alkire at Cumberland Lodge. Sabina directs the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), and has worked extensively on multidimensional poverty measurement and analysis, founded mainly on the Capability Approach and concepts of human development. OPHI aims to promote diverse voices on poverty, focusing on the importance of measurements, which help prioritise poverty in politicians’ agendas.

The conversation evolved around the The Global Multidimensinal Poverty Index (Global MPI), founded on Amartya Sen’s heterodox conceptualisation of human development and Continue reading