Sandakerveien 130 (map)
1st and 2nd floor
What does literature have to do with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? This question can be answered in many ways, and literary scholars can provide a wide range of different responses. Literary fiction often addresses the most pressing and current issues, and so, literature can, and does, tell a great variety of stories mirroring the problems that we face today. However, literature is not only about what it tells, but also about how it tells it. As is clear from debates on climate change or the range of topics discussed in the current US presidential campaign, how we communicate to the rest of the world certainly affects what we do. In this blog, I would like to focus on one specific way that literary fiction can contribute to achieving the SDGs, namely through exploring the workings of our minds.
There are numerous well-intentioned global efforts and development agendas and a multitude of stakeholders involved in saving lives as well as promoting long-term development in many developing countries. But what characterizes the relationship between good intentions and actually achieved results? How well are such activities coordinated? How effectively can external actors make a meaningful contribution to alleviating local problems? And most importantly, whose priorities do such interventions address, and to what extent are the so-called “beneficiaries” consulted?
The problem is enormous and growing. The evidence is compelling. Human activity, and our increased consumption of fossil fuels, has resulted in higher temperatures on earth. The best case scenarios of preventing a huge increase in global emissions of CO2 is already looking unrealistic.
Mega-quarantines, large hospitals built within a week, and sharing information with the global scientific community! The outbreak of the coronavirus (nCov2019) in China that has infected thousands of people and killed over 100, provides an illustrative example of the challenges facing the powerful Chinese state as it strives to contain the epidemic within its borders while limiting the effects of “stagflation” and further damage to its reputation abroad.
Addressing the challenges of climate disruption, international migration, pandemics, violent conflicts and poverty eradication require increased collaboration across national borders. The growth of nationalism and protectionist policies are, however, forcing many to rethink well-established understandings of the benefits of globalization. With the United States backtracking on previously negotiated agreements on climate, and signalling its desire to cut foreign aid, China has emerged as one of the strongest champions of globalization.
Around the turn of the millennium UN organizations began encouraging partnerships with business, while at the same time inviting business to contribute to achieving key global goals, including poverty reduction, decent work conditions for all and the protection of environmental resources. The UN has strengthened its emphasis on partnerships significantly since then, and partnerships are promoted as a main instrument for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as manifested in Goal 17.