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Governing through GoalsSustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation$
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Norichika Kanie and Frank Biermann

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035620

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035620.001.0001

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Goal Setting in the Anthropocene: The Ultimate Challenge of Planetary Stewardship

Goal Setting in the Anthropocene: The Ultimate Challenge of Planetary Stewardship

(p.53) 3 Goal Setting in the Anthropocene: The Ultimate Challenge of Planetary Stewardship
Governing through Goals

Oran R. Young

Arild Underdal

Norichika Kanie

Rakhyun E. Kim

The MIT Press

Whereas the Millennium Development Goals focused on an effort to address the needs of the developing world, the Sustainable Development Goals seek to come to terms with the challenges of a human-dominated planet while continuing the effort to reduce extreme poverty and to eradicate major diseases. In effect, this new effort involves an effort to use goal-setting as a means of coming to terms with the challenges of the Anthropocene, a new planetary era featuring nonlinear changes that are often rapid, frequently surprising, and sometimes nasty from the point of view of human welfare. Emerging issues relating to both the quantity and the quality of freshwater for human consumption provide clearcut illustrations of these challenges. From the perspective of governance, these issues center on efforts to develop allocation mechanisms capable of making adequate supplies of water available to growing urban populations, to explore the potential of “green water” as a means avoiding severe water shortages in arid regions, to acknowledge an individual right to water as a basic human right, and to protect the collective rights of future generations to benefit from the Earth’s life-support systems. Success in these efforts will require the development of a firm normative foundation on which to build effective institutional arrangements. An appropriate way forward may be to introduce a basic sustainability principle or a sustainability Grundnorm.

Keywords:   Anthropocene, collective rights, Earth’s life-support systems, individual rights, sustainability Grundnorm

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