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      The Contribution of UNESCO Chairs toward Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals

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      Sustainability

      MDPI AG

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          Abstract

          The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aims to enhance peace, security, and sustainable development by fostering international collaboration. Based on this aim, it stands to reason that the organization ought to contribute to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this research, we examined how an important program of UNESCO, the UNESCO Chairs, contributes to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Specifically, we studied the activities of 34 UNESCO Chairs from seven countries of the Northern Hemisphere (Germany, Iceland, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) to assess the contribution of the chairs toward the UN SDGs. The data for this study are based on in-depth narrative interviews, and we used Hermeneutic Content Analysis, a mixed methods framework, for analysis. Our results show that, unsurprisingly, all chairs contribute to UN SDG 4 (Quality Education) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) based on their extensive research and teaching activities. Interestingly, their academic focal areas contribute to specific UN SDG clusters. Using Multidimensional Scaling, we analyzed the UN SDG clusters across different focal areas to reveal the implicit models of sustainability among the chairs. Our findings have implications on the limits of how UNESCO Chairs conceptualize sustainability and show how this has positive and negative consequences on their contribution toward achieving the UN SDGs.

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          Most cited references 8

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          A general framework for analyzing sustainability of social-ecological systems.

           Elinor Ostrom (2009)
          A major problem worldwide is the potential loss of fisheries, forests, and water resources. Understanding of the processes that lead to improvements in or deterioration of natural resources is limited, because scientific disciplines use different concepts and languages to describe and explain complex social-ecological systems (SESs). Without a common framework to organize findings, isolated knowledge does not cumulate. Until recently, accepted theory has assumed that resource users will never self-organize to maintain their resources and that governments must impose solutions. Research in multiple disciplines, however, has found that some government policies accelerate resource destruction, whereas some resource users have invested their time and energy to achieve sustainability. A general framework is used to identify 10 subsystem variables that affect the likelihood of self-organization in efforts to achieve a sustainable SES.
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            Tracking the ecological overshoot of the human economy.

            Sustainability requires living within the regenerative capacity of the biosphere. In an attempt to measure the extent to which humanity satisfies this requirement, we use existing data to translate human demand on the environment into the area required for the production of food and other goods, together with the absorption of wastes. Our accounts indicate that human demand may well have exceeded the biosphere's regenerative capacity since the 1980s. According to this preliminary and exploratory assessment, humanity's load corresponded to 70% of the capacity of the global biosphere in 1961, and grew to 120% in 1999.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                SUSTDE
                Sustainability
                Sustainability
                MDPI AG
                2071-1050
                December 2018
                November 28 2018
                : 10
                : 12
                : 4471
                Article
                10.3390/su10124471
                © 2018
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