We’ve talked a lot about global frameworks as major steps towards sustainable development. Mobilization of multiple high level political actors is integral to successfully changing the world. Global frameworks keep powerful states and organizations engaged in the sustainable development process and demonstrate to the world that it is an issue that is being taken seriously and states want to see progress done. However, frameworks are only solutions if they are actually working. A large problem with international law and policy is that there are no legal means to enforce cooperation. International law is really just an agreed upon code of conduct, which no country has the true power to enforce other than through coercion. There are no world police to arrest violators of international law, that would be ridiculous. Global frameworks like the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights are signed and ratified by countries, but how do we know if requirements are being met or if they are even effective? The Millennium Development Goals, which came into effect in 2000 were supposed to be met by the year 2015. For the reasons outlined above, their success was very limited. The goals were not legally binding to any country, and though many countries were on the right track, the goals ultimately were not effective enough. For this reason the follow up goals, the SDG’s, were far more detailed on how goals were to be met and provided specific targets and ways to operationalize sustainability. Though frameworks are not binding, there are ways to facilitate cooperation and participation among states.
Having a multitude of countries signed on to the same framework makes them more likely to be followed. First and foremost is for the prestige and the social pressure to do the right thing. A sort of “peer pressure” system occurs where major states, particularly in the Western world, feel obligated to promote values of peace and sustainability in order to fit in with the progressive mentality that has become the norm. If a powerful state deviates from the norm it shows a lack of willingness to cooperate at a global level, which may make other states hesitate to work with said state. The integration of morality into politics plays a big role in the success of sustainable development initiatives. Moral obligations force states to commit to change. If we looked at sustainable development from a “realist” relative gains scenario, states would gladly let other states fail in order to increase their own success. However, globalization has connected all states together and introduced some semblance of morality into politics that makes it in a countries best interest to develop the world sustainably