We outline the discursive origins of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17, describing its ambiguous marching orders, which are further confused by shifting and contested stakeholder approaches. The widespread effect is to obscure the primary aim of making the tropics and other vulnerable countries more resilient, and also globally overcoming barriers to their development. We argue that ecological reflexivity, as developed and advanced by deliberative democracy and the Earth System Governance Project, belongs at the apex of those capacities needed for implementing the Agenda for Transformation. Ecological reflexivity conceptually grounds inclusive, open, critical, and consequential engagement of discourses situated among capable representatives, advocates, and citizens. SDG-related partnerships – whether designed around funding, technology, knowledge generation, or business innovation – are the locus in which this gets worked out. We advance this aim by proposing adjustment of the focal point using a Picturing framework that can enable both scholarly and practitioner approaches to SDG 17 to correct distortions and also materially ‘strengthen the means of implementation’. Using this framework, which entails Picturing politics, Picturing proximity to the poor, and Picturing progress, actors can shift attention to the accompanying discursive properties that affect implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Picturing is given concrete application through five case examples aligned to the research lenses of the Earth System Governance Research Framework. By drawing on studies spanning Barbados, Grenada, Bolivia, Ghana, Zambia, Peru, India and Fiji we demonstrate potential for the Picturing framework to provoke novel development pathways for a more sustainable future in the tropics.
Stanberry, J. and Bragan Balda, J., 2023. A conceptual review of Sustainable Development Goal 17: Picturing politics, proximity and progress. Journal of Tropical Futures, p.27538931231170509. https://doi.org/10.1177/27538931231170509
Journal of Tropical Futures