Pamela Chasek and Colleagues Call for Reform Towards Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations summit to review the state of Sustainable Development

By Karen Flores, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Pamela Chasek, Ph.D., is one of the multiple researchers calling for reforms in the UN sustainable development goals through an article published in the Journal of Science. 

According to, “The article [called] for [the] United Nations summit to review the state of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), paving the way for four major changes in how the SDGs are implemented and governed globally.”

The website highlights the four major points, the first two being centered around strengthening and adjusting the SDGs. 

“The expert group is calling for SDGs to be strengthened in a way that commits high-income countries to stronger and more concrete action… [and] must be adjusted to new challenges, improved scientific understanding, and past failures in implementations,” according to 

The last two points emphasize the importance of governments and groups around the world being involved in the implementation of the SDGs. 

“Instead, governments must together take steps to turn at least parts of the SDGs into binding international law…[and] governments need to build stronger institutions, both internationally and at home, to make the SDGs a fundamental part of how they operate and make decisions,” the website stated.

Outside of being a political science professor at Manhattan College, Chasek is an associate for the Global Goals project, which is run out of Utrecht University in The Netherlands, and is the co-founder and executive editor of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, which reports on UN Environment and Development negotiations.

Pamela Chasek is a professor of political science at
Manhattan College.

Chasek told The Quadrangle that she went to a workshop during June in Bath, England where she and her colleagues decided to write a short policy piece prior to the UN summit that took place between Sept. 18 and 19. 

“We agreed at the workshop that we would try to write a short policy piece and try to get it out before the summit. So that hopefully, we could have an impact on the summit,” Chasek said. “Frank Biermann [Ph.D., professor of global sustainability governance at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and the lead author of the study] put together an initial outline for the article and then he reached out to the Journal of Science to see if this is something they would consider.” 

According to the Journal of Science website, only 6.1 percent of papers submitted are published on the site. When the article was published, Chasek and her colleagues shared it with as many people as possible. 

“This is a big deal, the fact that Science only publishes 7% of articles submitted,” Chasek said. “I was really excited and really honored that our piece did get picked up and published in Science… [Once published] we distributed it to policymakers that we know and posted it on our social media networks. It’s just that we’re halfway to 2030 and we are behind when it comes to the agenda created to push towards achieving the sustainable development goals.” 

Chasek hopes that there is continuous progress being made towards achieving the SDGs and that it becomes a topic that is more talked about. 

“We need to look at what we can do to improve the governance of these goals and to better work with countries to help implement some of these goals so that we have more sustainable societies and that we have a planet to leave for our children and their children and not to just give up on it,” Chasek said. 

Margaret Groarke, Ph.D., professor and department chair of political science, expressed that professors doing research is crucial to helping expand knowledge to current students and the general population.

“I think it’s really important that professors are using their education and abilities to expand knowledge and share that with the intellectual community,” Groarke said. “This article was more trying to take the kind of research that Pam and her colleagues do and share it with a broader public. While that might seem disconnected from students, it’s good exposure for them as well.” 

Groarke expressed being proud of Chasek and said that climate change is an important topic.

“It’s a big deal. I know that they timed this article to impact the UN discussions about climate change and our response to climate change, so I was very proud of her,” Groarke said. “Political science is all about how people in power and citizens make decisions for a community or a society, we look at policy responses to problems. So if climate change is a problem that’s causing us all sorts of issues, what can the UN do and what can individual nations do to take action?”

Chasek hopes that there is continuous progress being made towards reaching the SDGs. 

“Any progress we make, whether it’s on reducing disease, improving education, reducing water pollution and exploitation of fisheries to reducing land degradation to clean water…if we can make progress that’s what we’re here for,” Chasek said.