Who Should Bear the Burden? The EU’s Approach to Responsibility for the Sustainable Development Goals

In this report, Sigrid Jerpstad investigates the EU's role in negotiating a global sustainable development agenda by looking at the EU's approach to the contested issue of responsibility and the allocation of burdens. 

Image of the front page of the reportIn 2015, the UN member states agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The EU – which has a long history with sustainable development and ambitious goals in this field – participated actively in the negotiation process on behalf of its 28 member states. This report seeks to provide a richer understanding of the EU’s role in negotiating a global sustainable development agenda. It does so by analysing the EU’s approach to the question of responsibility for sustainable development. The allocation of burdens was a highly contested issue during this intergovernmental negotiation process.

The report finds that the EU promoted a universal responsibility-norm as a guiding principle for the new agenda, meaning that the shared responsibility of all countries for contemporary global challenges is emphasised. At the same time, the EU opposed principles promoted by many developing countries aimed at addressing liability for historical events. For the EU, the actors who contribute the most to injustice in the current international system should be assigned the most responsibility. It emphasised that the emerging economies in particular should recognise their moral obligation to increase their international commitments given their increasingly influential position.

Sigrid Jerpstad has a Master of Sociology from the University of Oslo. She was affiliated with
ARENA Centre for European Studies and the GLOBUS project through the student scholarship. This report is based on Jerpstad's MA thesis as a student on the GLOBUS project. 

More about the GLOBUS project: Reconsidering European Contributions to Global Justice (GLOBUS)

ARENA Report 5/19 (pdf)

Sigrid Jerpstad

July 2019

Published July 19, 2019 10:35 AM - Last modified July 19, 2019 10:35 AM