Analysing the SDGs through Degrowth and Environmental Justice Lenses: A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Dutch SDG Policy Context

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Although the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to foster economic, social, and environmental development, scholars have become critical of the SDGs as the continued focus on economic development exacerbates social and environmental injustices. The concepts of degrowth and intersectional decolonial environmental justice (IDEJ) address the shortcomings of the SDGs, sharing radical and transformative ideas to alter the socio-economic and political systems that uphold these injustices. This study aims to provide a critical assessment of the SDGs through a combination of environmental justice and sustainability perspectives, which are applied to the Fifth Dutch National SDG Report: Sustainable Development in the Netherlands. This study shows how the pillars underlying degrowth and IDEJ are able to foster a more inclusive, diverse, and just conception of sustainability, illustrated through various worldviews. Through critical discourse analysis, the report is examined for the presence of mainstream and critical sustainability and environmental justice discourses. This study concludes that although the Dutch policy context refers to some extent to the critical discourses, the majority of the references are made to the mainstream pillars. Only through transformative changes based on degrowth and IDEJ, the aforementioned injustices can be addressed and truly inclusive, diverse, and just sustainability can be attained. Keywords: Sustainable Development Goals, degrowth, environmental justice, sustainability, critical discourse analysis
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