For today’s Humanosphere podcast, we will be Deconstructing the SDGs, aka the Sustainable Development Goals with Jason Hickel at the London School of Economics and Takumo Yamada of Oxfam International. The discussion is an excerpt from the Huddle for Global Change, a project we’re doing in collaboration with Jaclyn Schiff.
Hickel is an anthropologist who specializes in globalization and development, the author of several books on same and an adviser to /TheRules campaign – an initiative that contends, to probably put it too simply, that the global game – the rules of the game, our economic and political systems – actually fuel and, well, sustain poverty and inequity.
Yamada heads up Oxfam International’s advocacy on the SDGs, and the development agenda. Oxfam has gained a lot of public attention for reporting the simple fact that 85 of the richest people on Earth hold as much wealth as the entire poorest half of world – or 3.5 million people.
The 17 goals and their 169 targets that make up the SDGs are successors to the MDGs, aka Millennium Development Goals set in 2000. The eight simple goals were established arbitrarily but many say helped focus the international community on an anti-poverty agenda that worked. Yamada thinks the SDGs are an improvement, in that they were arrived by democratic process, are more comprehensive and dig deeper into root causes of poverty. Hickel believes the new agenda suffers from, and may even make worse, the tendency of the aid and development community to push solutions that avoid dealing with the more difficult political and economic drivers of inequity.
As usual, Humanosphere editor Tom Paulson and I discuss some of this week’s more interesting or important stories, including the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Economics to a critic of aid and development and the awarding of the world’s biggest humanitarian prize, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize, to Seattle-based Landesa, an organization that for nearly half a century has been working to get land rights for poor people. Finally, we discuss a new measure for extreme poverty set by the World Bank, and why our metrics showing progress against poverty are somewhat squishy.