Interview: Andrew Massey on Sustainable Governance and Development

Knowledge Portal: What are the differences between the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Millennium Development Goals are:

  1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. To achieve universal primary education
  3. To promote gender equality and empower women
  4. To reduce child mortality
  5. To improve maternal health
  6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. To ensure environmental sustainability
  8. To develop a global partnership for development

Sustainable Development Goals include:

  1. end poverty;
  2. end hunger and achieve food security;
  3. ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all;
  4. ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning;
  5. achieve gender equality;
  6. ensure water sanitation; access to affordable reliable;
  7. sustainable and clean energy;
  8. promote sustained inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all;
  9. build resilient infrastructure promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation;
  10. reduce inequality among countries;
  11. make citizen and human settlements inclusive; safe; resilient and sustainable;
  12. sustainable consumption and production;
  13. combat climate change;
  14. conserve sustainably use the oceans and marine resources;
  15. protect restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss;
  16. promote peaceful and inclusive societies;
  17. strengthen and revitalize global partnerships.


Andrew Massey: It is clear, as the United Nations states that the STG, “goes far beyond the Millennium Development Goals. Alongside continuing development priorities such as poverty eradication, health, education and food security and nutrition, it sets out a wide range of economic, social and environmental objectives. It also promises more peaceful and inclusive societies. It also, crucially, defines means of implementation. Reflecting the integrated approach that we have decided on, there are deep interconnections and many cross-cutting elements across the new Goals and targets.”

In that sense, therefore, the STG take the modest, but vitally important MDG and apply them to the important issues of sustainability in a world of rapidly increasing human population, while we have a duty to the environment and to the poorest in our global family. The STG attempt to combine the commitment we have to our global human family in terms of sustainable development and to raise all our peoples out of poverty and ignorance.

K.P.: Which role is granted to public administration in the SDG framework?

A. M.: Public Administration is core to delivering the entire SDG framework. Nothing can succeed without trained, honest, uncorrupted, skilled and dedicated public servants devoted to the delivery of public services that meet the goals of the SDG.  This is not a platitude. If you observe the most successful nations that raise their people from poverty and into a good standard of living, that ensure there is an awareness of the need to care for all of their citizens, that make public services serve the citizens and not the elite, then you are observing modernizing and forward looking societies. Good public administration is absolutely core to building a good and just society.

K. P.: Which public administration research agenda is needed to contribute to these SDGs? What should the different universities and schools do to help achieving sustainable development?

There is no alternative to having a clear and transparent public administration if the goal is the success of the SDG.

Only openness and the clear holding to account of the public sector is acceptable. But, we must also accept that the private sector only exists because the structures of the state make the accumulation of private wealth possible. This means the public and the private are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, a strong state and a clear and fair regulatory system are also important for the success of the SDG.

Andrew Massey (United Kingdom)

Andrew Massey is a professor of Politics at the College of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of Exeter. He  has worked in a range of areas including British, European, and US policy and politics. His main areas of research include comparative public policy, public administration and issues around the reform and modernization of government and governance at all levels in the UK, US, EU and globally. He also has a long standing interest in energy policy, especially civil nuclear energy; professionalism and ethics and accountability.

He is currently Editor in Chief of the International Review of Administrative Sciences, the journal of the International Institute of Administrative Sciences.  He is also Deputy Editor for the journal Public Money and Management; Vice president of the European Group for Public Administration; and a member of the executive of the UK’s Political Studies Association.