Rachel Fuhrmann

Student, University College Utrecht, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Knowledge is a fundamental constituent of development and acknowledging this is precisely what the Agenda Knowledge for Development has done. The initiative represents an opportunity for the improvement of the Agenda 2030 (UN, 2015) which, despite its influential nature, has predominantly ignored the significance of knowledge (Cummings et al 2017). A key emphasis is the disintegration of the hierarchy of knowledge and establishment of inclusive knowledge societies – societies which, taking global health as an example, incorporate not just corporate-backed scientific knowledge but also local knowledge. A culture of knowledge-sharing which encompasses the varying stances of stakeholders, ranging from the private sector to community individuals, is crucial to accomplishing the SDGs. Despite the undeniable progress that the Agenda Knowledge for Development is advocating for, there are arguably components that could be elaborated more.

Primarily, regarding the conceptualisation of the goals of the Agenda, advancements could be made through the addition of specific indicators for each goal – something that the SDGs have done clearly and effectively. This is essential to allow for progress over time to be assessed for each goal. The goals could be monitored more precisely through the implementation of indicators and furthermore, these indicators would aid in clarifying what each goal would ideally look like in a real life scenario. Although the conceptualisation of knowledge-based goals may appear to be challenging, the goal of local knowledge ecosystems (KDG3) can be taken as an example and indicators could include ‘knowledge shared in school textbooks’, for example. Analysis of school textbooks could identify whether or not local ideas such as indigenous views are being respected or if prejudices are being reinforced through education. In return, this indicator would simultaneously also assess SDG4: Education for All and the inclusiveness and quality of education.

Moreover, another aspect of the Agenda Knowledge for Development which could be enhanced is the topic of gender and knowledge. One may argue that the intersection of local knowledge and gender deserves to be a goal in itself due to its importance in women’s empowerment and achieving gender equality, both immense stimuli of development. Gender inequality fuels issues in all aspects of life such as education, health care and employment and, therefore, acknowledging the importance of knowledge in relation to women is crucial. The emphasis must be placed on women not only being able to receive knowledge but also providing women with the opportunity to share their own knowledge.

Knowledge is a catalyst and it is essential to achieve sustainable development. It is clear that the Agenda Knowledge for Development, despite suggestions to enhance it, immensely enriches the 2030 Agenda..