Notes #4

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Stumbled over …

A comprehensive report on Financing the UN Development System Time for Hard Choices by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation. The report covers a wide spectrum of topics and a wealth of financial data. An interesting section by Pedro Conceição asks How does science and technology policy shape inequality? comes to the following conclusion:

Thus, beyond taxes and transfers, and beyond competition policy, science and technology policy can be a powerful driver to redress inequality. This has little to do, necessarily, with mobilising financing, and more with the incentives to shape creativity and innovation to advance science and technology in a way that generates widely shared benefits

Pedro Conceição

Managing the Earth System Governance Project

Podcast with Frank Biermann: “Lessons learned from 10 years of managing the Earth System Governance Network”. A product related to the Early Career Communications by the Earth System Governance Project. See also related article:

Frank Biermann, Michele M Betsill, Sarah Burch, John Dryzek, Christopher Gordon, Aarti Gupta, Joyeeta Gupta, Cristina Inoue, Agni Kalfagianni, Norichika Kanie, Lennart Olsson, Åsa Persson, Heike Schroeder, Michelle Scobie. 2019. The Earth System Governance Project as a network organization: a critical assessment after ten years, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Vol. 39: 17-23.

Stakeholders vs Civil Society

In a blog post from July 2019, Felix Dodds raises the question: Is Civil Society arguing itself out of political space? The post reflects on the two different political discourses in play since Rio 1992: that of stakeholders and that of civil society. While this reminds me of the l’art pour l’art discourses in social sciences about terms and definitions, there are strategic implications as Felix describes in this post. His conclusion:

So let’s be clear the advocates for the civil society discourse by their own actions are giving up massive space for industry and reducing space for other stakeholders.

Felix Dodds

This stakeholder vs civil society discourse also comes up again because a lot of the routines within the UN Major Group System are increasingly challenged since the “Major Groups and other Stakeholders” language in the Rio+20 declaration. This resulted in an expansion to currently 17 groups instead of the traditional 9 Major Groups represented at the HLPF. An expansion without a comprehensive understanding of or deliberation on the how and by whom.


  • Senior adviseur wetenschapscommunicatie (0,6 fte), Utrecht University
  • Chief Scientist, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Note the academic qualifications required – I usually wonder why research management jobs require a PhD. For a UNEP Chief Scientist a doctoral degree – or even a full professorship – seems an obvious requirement to me, but not so to UNEP:

An advanced university degree (Masters or equivalent) in environmental science, social science or related field is required. A first level university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced degree.

19-Programme Management-UNEP-121061-R-Nairobi (R)

Fire and Forget …

In my role as executive director of Stakeholder Forum, I am involved in designing a so called SDG Acceleration Action. In that process, I noted following picture on the status of progress reports for all actions, pledges, and partnerships submitted in the SDG process. Follow up seems much less attractive than making pledges. Note to self: Reserve time next year to write a progress report.

A recently published paper A New Approach to Partnerships for SDG Transformations by David Horan in Sustainability (complementing an already vast body of literature) adds a more broader perspective to the challenges of partnerships and discusses “how to identify more systematically the partnerships needed (identification problem) and how to implement them (implementation problem); and outlines some ways to deal with these—science, deliberation, international leadership coalitions and frameworks/monitoring systems for transition partnerships“.

In other news …

#Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation#Early Career Researchers#Earth System Governance#Finance#Millennium Development Goals (MDG)#Partnerships for Sustainable Development#Research Management#Science & Development#Science Communication#SIWI#Stakeholder Engagement#Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)#UN Major Groups and other Stakeholders#United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)#Utrecht University