The UN SDGs: What progress? What impact? What next?

EJDR special issue - call for papers

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed in 2015 by all governments, covering countries of all income levels. The SDGs themselves, with 17 goals, over 150 targets and more than 200 indicators, cover a vast spectrum of development concerns.

While momentum has been observed in attention to the SDGs as the world approached the mid-point between their conception and 2030, it remains unclear will happen as of seven years from now, after the end-year. Current global challenges - including the legacy of the COVID pandemic, post-2022 cost-of-living crises, emerging debt crises, and continuing challenges from climate change - are likely to create obstacles for public policy in the near future.

As the 2030 deadline approaches, questions surrounding the SDGs abound:

Empirics: Which of the SDGs will be met, by which countries? Where they will not be met, what do the trends show, and by how much will the SDGs be missed? What else have the targets helped to achieve? How have regimes of measurement influenced development policy and practice? In which areas might the SDGs be judged to have been less or more successful, and how are such judgments influenced by the international cooperation context of today? What have the impacts of the SDGs been: positive and negative; intended and unintended; anticipated and unanticipated?

Causality and drivers: What determines if the SDGs are met or not? What financing would it take to meet the SDGs and why is/isn’t it forthcoming? Why did or didn’t the SDGs make a difference to government policy and development cooperation?

Concepts: Can development be reduced to a set of indicators? Are the SDGs too technocratic? Have worldviews of the Global South been included? More generally, how inclusive are the SDGs? What is the role of international development targets, given ongoing debates over decolonising development and in the context of the post COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing climate emergency?

Looking ahead: How can any future processes more meaningfully bridge the divide between Global South and Global North and serve as an accountability mechanism in high-income countries and low- and middle-income countries alike? Should there be an extension on SDG deadlines after 2030 or should a new approach be agreed instead? Should there be another era of international development targets and, if so, what should and/or might these look like? Is a concept other than that of ‘sustainable development’ needed, and should it be more focused, or instead even broader than the SDGs? If sustainability problems need to be addressed in a more overarching manner, how does this affect the geopolitics of overlapping crises? What kind of role can a post-SDG agenda have in a highly fractured and conflictual world setting? What is the impact on political approaches to development cooperation?

EJDR special issue on “What next after the SDGs?” – call for papers

The European Journal of Development Research (EJDR) is planning a special issue publication around this topic. EJDR invites authors, researchers, and practitioners interested in the above topics and wishing to contribute to EJDR’s special issue, to submit their draft papers for consideration in the journal. Empirically-rooted papers, as well as theoretical and conceptual articles, are welcome. Contributions from the Global South and early career researchers’ papers are especially encouraged. Please note that all submissions need to be well grounded in theory and advance the knowledge on the topic, by exhibiting interesting and novel approaches to the questions raised above.

Dates, contact, submission process

Authors are asked to submit a draft paper, including an extended abstract of approx. 300 words, to Natalia Lorenzoni, EJDR Managing Editor ( between now and the 31st of December 2023.

Papers will be reviewed by the editorial team for fit with the special issue topic and the journal’s quality standards. Authors will be notified in early 2024 whether their paper is being considered for the special issue.

Notified authors will submit their final papers to the journal by the end of Q1 2024. All manuscripts will then go through EJDR’s double-blind peer review. The outcome of the peer review process will ultimately determine whether submitted papers are accepted for the special issue. Any submitted papers can, following peer review, be rejected, or ultimately be published outside the special issue envelope.

Final acceptances will be advised toward the end of 2024. The EJDR special issue is due to be published by mid-2025.

Useful links

EJDR guidelines for authors: For Authors / Author Submission Guidelines | The European Journal of Development Research | palgrave

EJDR opinion pieces: For Authors / Opinion/Position Papers | The European Journal of Development Research | palgrave

Early Careers information: For Authors / Early Career Researcher Initiative | The European Journal of Development Research | palgrave

This call for papers is supported by:

EADI – The European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes

APISA – The Asian Political and International Studies Association

CLACSO - The Latin American Council of Social Sciences

KAIDEC – The Korea Association of International Development and Cooperation

SADSA – The South African Development Studies Association

To download the call for papers, please click here

Two new EJDR paper sections: Opinion and Position articles, and Systematic Reviews and Meta Analysis papers

The European Journal of Development Research is launching two new initiatives, aimed at further encouraging scientific debate and rigorous academic analysis. Authors may now submit articles for consideration under two new headers: ‘Opinion and Position paper’ and ‘Systematic Review and Meta Analysis paper’.

Systematic Review and Meta Analysis papers:

These papers present systematic reviews and/or meta-analysis of prior research broadly related to international development. They should contain a detailed methods section that outlines the approaches employed in undertaking the review or meta-analysis, and that shows how these methods meet current best practice. For further information, click here.

Opinion/Position Papers:

These papers present the perspective of author(s) on a current international development issue, for example synthesizing and provide a critical take on lessons learned from recent research within development studies; or an analytical perspective on current development policy issues. EJDR also encourages opinion pieces that foster new ideas for interdisciplinary thinking, and that suggest directions for future development research. For further information, click here.

Please note that submissions for EJDR’s other existing article types - original articles, early career papers and special issue papers – is ongoing, and continues as normal.

EJDR’s Early Career Initiative

EJDR’s Early Career Initiative video, a step-by-step guide on how to structure a strong international development academic paper, is now available. Authors are strongly encouraged to first address the video's tips before submitting via this route. Access the video here: EJDR Early Career Initiative - YouTube