Beyond agenda 2030: Future-oriented mechanisms in localising the sustainable development goals (sdgs)

Nana O. Bonsu*, Jennifer Tyreehageman, Juliet Kele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the complex nature of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there are increasing calls for new inclusive and bottom-up governance mechanisms in building a relationship between governments and their citizens, in particular, the youth, to localise the 2030 Agenda. But such successful bottom-up multi-stakeholder engagement tools have yet to emerge in practice. Hence, of specific interest in this study is exploring bottom-up approaches useful for localising the SDGs and harnessing real transformative change to leave no one behind by 2030. Using a case study from the UK, we present a novel integrated mechanism to achieve this. An integrated Social Innovation (SI) and Scenarios Thinking (ST) mechanism remains a valuable bottom-up tool capable of empowering citizens, including the youth and decision-makers in delivering coherent SDGs plans, policies, and programmes. The study reveals that although the SDGs are distinct, they are also interconnected. A scenario development workshop with youth with no prior knowledge of the SDGs showed a common thread of policy measures for different SDG future images. Standard policy measures amongst different SDGs call for an equitable society at all levels; that all energy sources be from clean and renewable sources; investment in low-carbon technologies and research; and financial support for promoting sustainable transportation and consumption measures. This study highlights that we need to change how we think and talk about SDGs and recommends socially innovative steps to embrace cross-sectoral and nexus thinking as the backdrop of the citizen science concept. We conclude that the SDGs should not become a performative exercise or failed social experiment. And any practical localisation from the UN’s Member States across the northern and southern hemispheres will require robust measures addressing future-oriented systemic thinking, inclusivity and good governance, together with standards for community resilience and sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9797
Number of pages21
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research received funding from the Economic Social Research Council Festival of Social Sciences grant number: ESRC FoSS 2019.

Funding Information:
Funding: This research received funding from the Economic Social Research Council Festival of Social Sciences grant number: ESRC FoSS 2019.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Bottom-up decision making
  • Citizen science
  • Future images
  • Scenarios thinking
  • SDGs localisation
  • Social innovation
  • Youth

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