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Legitimation of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

The Cases of Ghana and Tanzania

The project runs between 2016-2019 and is funded by the Swedish Research Council.

The project studies how legitimacy is generated and questioned in national level translation processes of globally adopted development policies. Specifically, we explore the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2015-2030 that have succeeded the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the new goals triggers a translation process of those into domestic policymaking with ensuing legitimation challenges that, we argue, condition implementation prospects. When scholars have focused on legitimacy in global governance, they have primarily debated the normative standards against which international organisations should be judged. In contrast, we study the processes and sources that shape perceptions of legitimacy among development actors.

Our theoretical framework includes a spectrum of legitimation and delegitimation strategies, a conceptualisation of the authors, audiences, and objects of legitimation, and the legitimacy sources and country level factors that condition legitimation processes. The cases in focus are Ghana and Tanzania. Both countries have high stakes in the Sustainable Development Goals but differ in how far they have come in socio-economic development as well as in degree of democratic consolidation. Those factors, we argue, impact the conditions of national level legitimation.