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        The 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda and Academic Criminology 1
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This essay introduces some research and pedagogical issues relevant to the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda into academic criminology, especially concerning teaching and learning about these issues in the context of climate change. Academic criminology should not hesitate to take on board the normative dimension of socio-economic development. Certainly, the 2030 United Nations Agenda is a very fitting case in point.



Based on Redo (2015b).

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (A/RES/70/1 2015) went into force in 2016. In that resolution, the Heads of Governments took a historical commitment until 2030:

to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. […] create conditions for sustainable, inclusive and sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and decent work for all, taking into account different levels of national development and capacities. (A/RES/70/1 2015:3)

More recently, the President of the General Assembly personally requested commitments from all Heads of Governments to include the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their educational systems (Leone Reference Leone2016).

This essay introduces some SDG issues into academic criminology, especially relevant to teaching and learning about them in the context of climate change. The General Assembly argued that climate change is:

one of the greatest challenges of our time and its adverse impacts undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development. Increases in global temperature, sea level rise, ocean acidification and other climate change impacts are seriously affecting coastal areas and low-lying coastal countries, including many least developed countries and small island developing states. The survival of many societies, and of the biological support systems of the planet, is at risk. (A/RES/70/1 2015:14)


In the International Court of Justice water dam on the Danube River case, between Slovakia and Hungary, Justice Weeremantery in his opinion noted that sustainable development is one of the oldest ideas in human heritage.Footnote 2

In terms of global jurisprudence, this reference seems to be the first ever case of acknowledging the ever-lasting impact of sustainable development on human habitat. However, as a forerunner of the above opinion, the 1984 Bhopal gas leak disaster arbitration case between India and a U.S. company immediately comes to mind. This was the starting time for “Green Criminology” which in view of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Agenda, in my opinion no longer can retain its original academic value – i.e., because it is analytical and interpretative, but not skills-oriented. In fact, any sort of academic criminology no longer can continue to be analytical and interpretative only. A paradigm shift is in the offing. Hands-on education and training in the UN SDGs are very much needed.

Our mind should now measure up to the claim regarding the adverse, so to say “toxic”, impact (real and putative) of climate change on sustainable development and the methods of countering it (Redo Reference Redo2016).Footnote 3 I will try to look into these real claims by first addressing some possible criminological links between SDGs, particularly, however, between SDG 6 to “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all” and SDG 16 to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. As criminologists, we may be surprised to see the SDGs’ 6/16 relationship rather than only its reverse, but the four examples below explain that first relationship.

In conclusion, I will advance a putative claim that changes in the social climate may be even more worrisome for sustainable crime prevention and education than climate change in the atmosphere. Last but not least, I will also make a few suggestions concerning education/teaching/training and researching about sustainable development in the context of crime prevention.


First, however, one must emphasize that on the UN SDG Agenda any selected goal (i.e., whether or not Goal 6 or 16) is interconnected, at times strongly, at times weakly, with other SDGs (Redo Reference Redo2015a; Zvekic Reference Zvekic2015).Footnote 4 The goals’ sub-goals or targets are also interconnected – altogether 169. All 17 SDGs and their 169 targets are networked and, for the ease of the determination of intra- and inter-relationships, may be generically grouped, either because of the same resource base (e.g., water or oil), type of rights (e.g., property rights or social justice rights), or because of form of crime (e.g., “organized crime”) (Redo Reference Redo2015a; United Nations Environment Programme 2015).

The commentators and framers understood that there is a need to incorporate a wider systems perspective that can articulate how the goals and targets would interact over time, in both positive and negative ways, and how they would contribute to the overarching goal. They realized that:

action to meet one target may have unintended consequences on others if they are pursued separately. Research suggests that most goal areas are interlinked, that many targets might contribute to several goals, and that there are important trade-offs among several goals and targets. By tackling targets in an integrated way, the desired results can be achieved for many targets. (International Council for Science and International Social Science Council 2015:6)

However, in additional to this general methodological advice, there have been generic methodological insights into the potential trade-offs between one or the other goal (Nilsson et al. Reference Nilsson, Griggs, Visbeck and Ringler2016). They remind us that there indeed may be such trade-offs between the rule of law and “peaceful and inclusive societies” (Goal 16), in fact made already by the SDGs’ framers by heralding the latter and subsuming under it the former. More to the point of this essay would, however, be to note that climate change (growing greenhouse gas emissions) increases desertification and (undocumented) migration, while measures taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can restrict both (Nilsson et al. Reference Nilsson, Griggs, Visbeck and Ringler2016). Last, but not least, achieving goals and targets is not only a matter of the rights-based approach to the Agenda, but also of corresponding responsibilities, including of those who claim those rights, as reminded by the President of the General Assembly (Leone Reference Leone2016).

The 17 SDGs really take us up into the much more cumulative, impressive and complex multifactor world of the 21st century, driven by the UN’s major goal of the elimination of absolute poverty with its concomitant facets (e.g., crime dynamics and patterns), one way or another prompted by global climate change, and with the focus on rights and responsibilities. Notwithstanding this very elaborate, multifaceted and reciprocity-based concept of the UN with an unswerving climatological thrust, one may note in it a deficit of commensurate criminological analysis on these factors. They are missed in non-criminological analyses.Footnote 5 Moreover, one such SDGs’ analysis found “no environmental elements” in SDG 16 (Cutter et al. Reference Cutter, Osborn, Romano and Ullah2017).

Immediately follows is how one could in principle go in an interdisciplinary fashion filling this void with, at times, inconspicuous relatedness between SDGs 6 (“Clean water and sanitation”) and 16 (“Peaceful and inclusive societies”).


Accordingly, this particular criminological example of goals 6/16 serving to meet the target to “significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere” (16.1) is prompted by the lack of access to improved sanitation by about 30 % people worldwide, most of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern and Eastern Asia (Shah et al. Reference Shah, Thathachari, Agarwal and Karamchandani2013:7). According to the 2011 Census of India, 67% of rural Indian households (and 53% of all Indian households) still do not have access to proper sanitation facilities, particularly in the Northern states (Shah et al. Reference Shah, Thathachari, Agarwal and Karamchandani2013). However, it goes without saying that private toilets promote dignity and safety, for women especially.

A case study investigating respective developments in sustainable sanitation in one such Northern state, the state of Bihar, revealed that 85% of rural households still had no access to a toilet (Shah et al. Reference Shah, Thathachari, Agarwal and Karamchandani2013), despite a very strong, vigorous and long-term governmental programme for improving sanitation by 2022. The study added that 49% of the households that did not have a toilet wanted one for “safety”, especially for women and children (Shah et al. Reference Shah, Thathachari, Agarwal and Karamchandani2013:9). Reportedly, in 2012 there were 870 rapes in Bihar. According to a police estimate, some 400 rape cases probably would have not happened, if women would have had and/or used private toilets in their households (Tewary Reference Tewary2013).

This assumption is “iffy”, because in an econometric prediction involving people who would be provided at homes with governmentally funded toilets as per the above programme, the researchers found that 70% of the rural population would nevertheless persist with their time-honoured custom of relieving themselves in the open, in full disregard of health hazards, especially for children.Footnote 6 The researchers suggested that in the long run a civic awareness programme supporting sustainable private and public sanitation may reduce the health and sexual violence risks, the latter especially involving girls and women who in the open must meet their intimate physiological needs.


In further keeping with the SDG 6/16 thread of this essay, the next criminological example involving access to water comes from Sub-Saharan West Africa, where in 1989 violent conflict ensued due to the politics and economics governing water and land distribution around the Senegal River, on the border between Senegal and Mauretania. Scarcity of river water first led Senegal and Mauretania to build a dam jointly, but also to increased land prices in the basin. This has caused powerful actors in Mauretania (White Moors – the Arab Berber tribesmen whose ancestors established control in the seventeenth century) to abrogate the land rights of indigenous inhabitants of Mauretania’s part of the basin, alleged to be owned by the “Senegalese”. In the spring of 1989, the killing in the river basin of Senegalese farmers by Mauritanians triggered ethnic violence in the two countries. In Dakar (capital of Senegal) there were mass deportations of Mauritanian traders (elite White Moors) and of Black Moors (descendants of black West Africans), reciprocated by expulsions by Mauretania of river-bank Senegalese black herders. Altogether, in both countries several hundred people were killed. The two nations nearly went to war (Homer-Dixon Reference Homer-Dixon1994:12–13). Based on a colonial treaty from 1933, Senegal insists on the north bank of the river as delimitation of the border (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2010). Until now there is no compromise that would facilitate a sustainable development solution in the Senegal River Basin.


The next SDG 6/16 example comes from an arid region – Central Asia.Footnote 7 Water scarcity and brackish water have been part and parcel of the region’s history. Nowadays, water quality has been negatively impacted by cotton monoculture, excessive use of agrochemicals, physical ageing of existing irrigation/drainage systems and dumping of large volumes of contaminated waste-water. Some of these practices (e.g., over-irrigation that takes up to 90% of water resources) have also led to the dramatic shrinkage of the Aral Sea shared by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan; other practices to degradation of soils, salinization of irrigated lands and desertification, credited to divisive interests of three downstream countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan) and two upstream countries (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan). In Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan this led to increasingly precarious livelihood conditions. In Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan conditions could not be alleviated by the revenues from extracting and selling natural resources (oil and gas) absent or in short supply there, as is the case with gas in Uzbekistan.

Optimistically assuming that the projected volume of available water in Central Asia will stay by 2030 at the level of the year 2000, one must estimate substantial increases in population that will account for the increase in water consumption. While in 2000 there were no more than 60 million inhabitants in Central Asia, the 2030 estimate suggests an increase of about 13%, to a total of 78 million inhabitants (with an average age of 30 years) (Worldometers 2016).

Commensurate water scarcity across Central Asia, but most particularly in Uzbekistan, seems therefore to be critical for all of the countries. Water shortages interfere with agricultural productivity. This interferes with other economic activity (fewer jobs), leads to migration, especially of young people, spurs trafficking in them and drugs, increases the attraction to organized crime, terrorism and exacerbates ethnic tension and other enmities, historically very well entrenched among Central Asian countries (Crank Reference Crank2003; Redo Reference Redo2004).

This may be the example of incongruence between regional goals, targets and eventual results (Elder, Bengtsson, and Akenji Reference Elder, Bengtsson and Akenji2016). Regional sustainable development solutions are often discussed, but hardly followed in practice.

Owing to this inconspicuous link between SDG 6 and target 16.2 to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children”, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are the source countries for women and girls trafficked to the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Costa Rica for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Men are trafficked to Kazakhstan and Russia for purposes of forced labour in the construction, cotton and tobacco industries. Men and women are also trafficked internally for the purposes of domestic servitude, forced labour in the agricultural and construction industries, and for commercial sexual exploitation (U.S. Department of State 2008, 2014, 2015).


Last, but not least, young men in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (a terrorist organization listed by the UN Security Council) and young Kyrgyz women are separately noteworthy. These young men face very perilous life chances in their home country or abroad (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria) where civil wars continue, and so the recruitment of Muslim fighters, while women endure sexual servitude in Syria (U.S. Department of State 2008, 2014, 2015).

The latter account brings into light the subtle linkage between Goal 6 and target 16a to “strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime”. However, one can also give an example from Somalia and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. Reportedly, owing to climate changes that forced migration to Europe of people from areas of Somalia and Eritrea that suffer from desertification, allegations emerged in the European security community about the rising risk of religiously motivated immigrant terrorism from those source countries (Reuveny Reference Reuveny2007).


The 2016 UN General Assembly adopted a landmark “New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants” which reads:

Since earliest times, humanity has been on the move. Some people move in search of new economic opportunities and horizons. Others move to escape armed conflict, poverty, food insecurity, persecution, terrorism, or human rights violations and abuses. Still others do so in response to the adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters (some of which may be linked to climate change), or other environmental factors. Many move, indeed, for a combination of these reasons. (A/RES/71/1 2016:1, emphasis added).

Although the last sentence emphasizes only a multifactor environmental background of migration, one may wonder, if generally in criminology such a multifactor background is or can be a universally valid method for explaining what climate change now, as a single factor, apparently does to sustainable development. It invites considering some relevant criminological issues “irrespective of the presence of existing theories” (Bruinsma Reference Bruinsma2016). Not only is theorizing a privileged part of academic criminology, but also many factors are very common and they may not need a new grand theory.

However, surely and openly, what the Secretariat pursues under the name of “Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice” is a time-honoured modernization theory (as the most aggregate theory) and various other social learning theories, particularly of a short range (e.g., situational). Moreover, at any rate, the Secretariat is keen on any theory or factor – single or not – under the sun that may be globally and locally helpful in reducing crime and drug abuse, provided that one or the other promises an effective but humane outcome, hopefully measurable statistically.

In this sense, “migration” is a fitting independent variable, and violent crime (especially homicide) a dependent variable. In longitudinal research, another single independent variable like “climate change” (rising temperature) may be useful for longer criminological analyses and projections. There the impact of academic criminology with its scientific findings and recommendations is very important in assisting to project and achieve and account for programme outputs.

As is widely known, the first ever multifactor analysis of the impact of climate on human behaviour was carried out by Charles-Louis de Montesquieu (1689–1755) – the French legal and moral philosopher. Supported by some 3,000 citations in his The Spirit of Laws (Reference Montesquieu1748 [2001]), he claimed to treat “all the peoples of Europe with the same impartiality as … the peoples of the Island of Madagascar” (Montesquieu Reference Montesquieu1949). He argued that all these people’s different spirit, their moral characteristics and the way of thinking and acting result from a unique combination of climate, religion, laws, maxims of government, history, mores and manners.

In contrast to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s climate assessments, his and most of so far available criminological observations are static. By and large, they involve comparison of dynamics of crime north or south of the 38 parallel. According to the respective meta-analysis of such criminological studies from 1932 to 2005: “The further south one lives, the higher the crime rate becomes. The one documented exception is Canada, where one study reported the opposite pattern” (Ellis, Beaver, and Wright Reference Ellis, Beaver and Wright2009). Only some more recent criminological research argues that irrespectively of this time-honoured parallel thesis, increasing CO2 emissions raise the temperature globally. Apparently, such emissions lead to various adverse results, including social unrest with violence and other crime (Redo Reference Redo2016).

This is a very tenuous argument. It must be critically examined by comparing the impact of climate change on crime south and north of the 38 parallel, starting with the Democratic Republic of Korea and the People’s Republic of Korea. However, also in countries north of that parallel like republics of Czechia and Slovakia, Germany or Poland in comparison with the pre-1989 years experienced contrasting political scenarios with a clear impact on the dynamics and patterns of crime, that could hardly be additionally credited to climate change. In conclusion, academic criminology should make its input into the problem of climate change and see whether it or a change in an investment climate is more discernible in criminal statistics, at least in the short term.


In this essay, on the basis of the four examples with which it started, this section advances a less tenuous claim: that climate must profoundly impact any psycho-social process. Therefore one should develop a comprehensive vision in criminology that accounts from SDG 1 to 17 for the impact of climate change on sustainable development issues in crime prevention and criminal justice.

The kind of impact, about which is the last part of this essay, specifically addresses learning and teaching on how to make sustainable crime prevention work. When it comes to teaching the UN SDGs, two types of lessons come to mind: programmatic and pedagogical.

First, as far as the crime prevention academic programme in criminology is concerned, the Indian example adds to the inventory of cases in which customary law practices stay in the way of modernization and the rule of law. This example should content-wise alert to the SDG 5 on gender mainstreaming – the basic prerequisite of shaping a democratic sense of justice for men and women alike.Footnote 8 However, adequate outdoor and indoor sanitation also implies implementing SDG 6 (sanitation for prisons) – a standard rather weakly implemented in developing countries from the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (i.e., “Nelson Mandela Rules”, rule 42).

Second, the West African example shows that hatred was a tool for maintaining the status quo, while that example and the third example of water shortages in Central Asia both show how historically conditioned enmities reduce the chances of neighbouring nations to find sustainable solutions to their common developmental needs. The final example from the Horn of Africa signals the fear of terrorism in Europe. This is an illustration of how a change in social climate concerning the acceptance of refugees and other undocumented migrants may be even more worrisome for sustainable crime prevention nowadays than long-term changes in the atmosphere. Xenophobic feelings, even if genuinely prompted by the concern about the very fact of “others”, or – more often than not – prompted by dedicated trolling, make this social atmosphere more “toxic” and volatile (“hate crimes”), hence undermining the UN Sustainable Development Agenda (Goal 16.b, “Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development”), if not also peace and security in the world.

Situationally, such a “putting a carriage before a horse” (speaking first about imminent dangers rather than and only what ensues for a culture of law in the long run) is a result of re-emerging worldwide populism. Although populism is a “thin ideology of limited analytical use…that conveys a distinct set of ideas about the political which interact with the established ideational traditions of full ideologist claims” (Stanley Reference Stanley2008), it demands from academics seriously and extensively taking on board of that Agenda, and developing teaching and training about its global values and implementability as a social cohesion function “here and now”.

The Agenda must not be seen as utopian, light-handedly voted by 193 Member States of the UN. Those who participated in the Agenda’s development or observed how it aims had for long been very laboriously, diligently and prospectively worked out at many UN fora (including the Thirteenth UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (in Qatar, 2015) with its declaration on a global culture of lawfulness) may give testimony to an extremely serious multifaceted and cooperative effort, incomparable with the rather hastily drafted Millennium Development Goals 2000–2015 by the UN Secretariat. If one looks at that 2030 Agenda from the perspective of the very ethically appealing material changes it calls for (less economic inequality through more equity in a common human habitat), these will be these superior changes that eventually matter for a sustainable world without which no other, populist or not, ideology can long survive and be successful.

With this “here and now” perspective, as far as crime prevention academic pedagogy is concerned, the strategic evidence comes from one cross-cultural psychological survey. In partial confirmation of Montesquieu’s hypothesis, a survey of more than 2,900 college students studying in 26 countries, on the degree to which they considered Northerners and Southerners within their own countries to be emotionally less or more expressive, found that indeed this is especially evident from the college respondents studying in European countries. Northerners are viewed there as less emotionally expressive than Southerners. Regression and other analyses revealed that self-ratings of expressiveness were, in fact, related to being from the South and to warmer mean temperatures (Pennebaker, Rimé, and Blankenship Reference Pennebaker, Rimé and Blankenship1996).

These are proved, legitimate and natural differences across the North–South spectrum of human behaviour. This finding alone warrants differentiating the pedagogical methods in international classes and with native students only.

However, for each and every student group some methods may be common. Certainly common is motivating learners to break away from the sectarian stereotyping of self and others, regardless of gender or the kind of legal culture. This was convincingly demonstrated by the World Bank experiment.Footnote 9 Carried out in India among young students from various castes, the experiment led its authors to observe that the inter-caste rules constrained the students’ performance, in the following manner: (a) the negative learner’s self-perception works like a self-fulfilling prophecy. It locks in the economic disadvantage because of the pre-defined content of own expectations; (b) these expectations are not a consequence of a “culture of poverty” per se but of its enduring legacy that hampers positive personal attitudinal changes; (c) since the aggregate effect of economic deprivation (injustice) on the expectations associated with the in-group is clearly negative, motivating learners to perform better may alleviate their enduring feeling of personal inferiority; (d) in the long run motivating may alleviate prejudice of others and the impoverished future in general cultures.

The value of this experiment is limited to male students. Surely, a male/female student experiment would have brought to light that justice is first of all a gender-based concept, that should equally meet the expectations of boys and girls.

Separately, and lastly, there still is one more viable reason to teach various student groups about the impact of climate change on their own poverty (whether material or of thought), migration, crime and on their own security. This reason is to give the students skills and competencies necessary for the smooth adaptation to the rapidly changing environments and labour markets (home and abroad), and a chance to pursue in life sustainable livelihood skills that respond to the goals of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. Rather than teaching from the curricula that focus only on criminological substance (who can tell how relevant it will be in 15 years from now?), the teaching of critical thinking may be helpful for responding with skills and competencies to the evolving labour market, social, criminal justice and crime prevention calls.

The same critical thinking approach should involve the training courses organized by the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network institutes. For example, rehabilitation and reintegration of sentenced persons (imprisoned or not) have to do with assisting in building up their professional skills and civic attitudes commensurate with the local labour market demands for such skills and community’s inclusiveness initiatives – extended, pursued and implemented with the locally relevant SDGs ideas in mind. A “one size course that fits all” hardly can facilitate their attainment.

The way for the Programme Network has already been shown by other UN institutes. The UN Research Institute for Social Development in its 2016 “Flagship Report” discussed various policy innovations for transformative SDG changes, signalling their relevance to the dynamics and patterns of crime (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development 2016). That relevance needs a much more comprehensive SDG analysis. Will the Programme Network see this incipient signal and respond in kind?

This is the kind and level of coordination and universality with different scales of action for different goals that builds consensus institutionally, locally and globally. It engages many and brings the results for the satisfaction of the majority, if not all, so no one is left behind. This is then the call for and the beauty of unlocking the power of local culture. Local culture can progressively advance legal standards and norms, with the most basic civic standards included. It may open the way to clear an occasional mismatch between “global” and “local” and put both in the service of a glocally sustainable Culture of Lawfulness, projected by the Thirteenth UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, and envisioned for the Fourteenth Congress (in Japan, 2020).


Perhaps in no other country than India – the host of the 18th World Congress of Criminology – does the below quotation of Ellsworth Faris, the President of the American Sociological Association (1937), prompt next to advance some counterintuitive conclusions:

For we live in a world of cultural relativity and the whole furniture of earth and choir of heaven are to be described and discussed as they are conceived by men. Caviar is not a delicacy to the general [population]. Cows are not food to the Hindu. Mohammed is not the prophet of God to me. To an atheist, God is not God at all. (Faris Reference Faris1937)

Two counterintuitive conclusions follow. First, the difference between academia and bureaucracy is that the former is based on concept and method, the latter on authority and mandate. Therefore the criss-crossing encounters there may be between theory and practice, academic societies and training institutes should be a sounding board which not only provides opportunities for their free exchange, but also for gathering and offering advice to pursue projects in common interest of sustainable development. Academic criminology may perform an important role for sustainable development. It may inform the formulation of evidence-based targets and indicators, assess the progress, test solutions, and identify emerging risks and opportunities (International Council for Science and International Social Science Council 2015:7).

Governments should integrate sustainability principles across sectors and policy domains. They also should develop institutional capacity or mechanisms to ensure that each government’s own spending and regulations are well aligned with the SDGs, or at least do not conflict with any of their goals and targets (Elder et al. Reference Elder, Bengtsson and Akenji2016).

Second, the UN research and training institutes in their own right should be able to pursue the Sustainable Development Agenda in terms of programme objectives and outputs. The Fourteenth UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, within its own agenda, will certainly and comprehensively address some of the above goals, as far as education and training in crime prevention and criminal justice are concerned. In various capacities and for various calls the UN resolution “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” commands our utmost attention and practical and effective implementation.


In a contradiction to the 1937 classical quotation of the President of the American Society of Sociology, Emilio Viano, the President of the International Society of Criminology, in his closing statement at the 18th World Congress of Criminology remarked that, in modern times, academic criminology should not hesitate to take on board the normative dimension of socio-economic development. Certainly, the 2030 UN Agenda is a very fitting case in point.

Therefore from the standpoint of all 17 sustainable development goals of that Agenda one may ask the question, what is the sense of justice in life terms for higher- and lower-caste men and women, the question only partly answered in the World Bank’s experimental study of Indian higher- and lower-caste school boys? Extending that study, so as to compare its results with responses of sixth- and seventh-grade primary school girls, and then with women, plus adolescent and adult males would give a cumulative answer to the otherwise skewed and fragmentarily interpreted and pursued concept of justice and life chances in the context of local sustainable development. These chances may be improved for men and women alike.

In India, a country which in 2016 surpassed the United Kingdom as the sixth-largest world’s economy in terms of gross domestic product, being guided by higher standards of achievement may be an imperative that advances sustainable development not by contractions but by comprehensively planned governmental action. The tremendous population potential of India with its motivation to learn new and improve old skills should be optimized in India’s contribution to world development. Through research and teaching, Indian criminologists and other academics may facilitate the governmental response to meet the UN SDGs inter-relatedly and fully.

2 The judgement answered whether, in 1989, Hungary was entitled to suspend and subsequently abandon the works on the Gabčikovo–Nagymaros project for which the Treaty on the Construction and Operation of the Gabčikovo–Nagymaros Barrage System attributed responsibility to Hungary. The International Court of Justice asserted that Hungary was not entitled to suspend and subsequently abandon, in 1989, the Nagymaros project and the part of the Gabčíkovo project for which it was responsible, and that Czechoslovakia was entitled to proceed, in November 1991, with a “provisional solution” (damming up the Danube on Czechoslovak territory). The Court also stated that Czechoslovakia was not entitled to put into operation, from October 1992, the system of locks in question, and that Slovakia, as successor to Czechoslovakia, had become Party to the Treaty of 16 September 1977 as of 1 January 1993 (Gabčikovo–Nagymaros Project 1997).

3 The real claim is made in the reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It argues that increasing CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions from fossil fuel combustion (oil, gas) should be blamed for the rising average temperature in the last 100 years (1906–2005) of the Earth’s surface by .74°C (thus the average indexes on warming for the last 50 years almost double the indicators for the last 100 years), and for the ensuing consequences (melting of the glaciers, warming up of the oceans), some of which may have criminological impact (Redo Reference Redo2016).

4 However, in global social and criminal justice terms other SDGs matter as well. Indeed, this can be done for each and every other UN SDG – separately or together, in either case in their own terms comprehensively. Moreover, in a number of other SDGs there are criminologically relevant targets that can be generically grouped, as goals and targets.

5 The author cautions, however, that mapping SDG linkages based on their wording reflects “political” linkages created through negotiations, rather than linkages based on physical or socio-economic considerations (Le Blanc Reference Le Blanc2015; United Nations Environment Programme 2015).

6 A 2014 study from northern India found that 43% of households with government-constructed latrines had members who still defecated in the open (Coffey et al. Reference Coffey, Gupta, Hathi, Khurana, Spears, Srivastav and Vyas2014).

7 SDG 6.4: “By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.”; SDG 6.5: “By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate.”; SDG 6a: “By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies.”

8 Not only unsustainable is the resistance to indoor sanitation which facilitates rape opportunities, but other practices in Asia and Africa, like femicide and female genital mutilation, are likewise contrary to the UN Sustainable Development Agenda.

9 In an econometric experiment, primary school Indian low-caste and highest-cast boys (sixth and seventh grade) from Uttar Pradesh (642 altogether, respectively divided into two halves) were asked to play a monetary incentive game by solving as many mazes involving the city traffic rules as they could out of a given series. The only skill required was the ability to look forward to detect dead ends. At first, when caste was not publicly announced, there were no caste differences in performance. However, when caste was publicly announced, the number of mazes solved by low-caste boys dropped by a dramatic 25%. When caste was announced but a random draw of a name determined who in a session of six would be paid for the mazes he solved, the caste gap in performance disappeared. According to the authors, the findings suggest that the aggregate effect of economic deprivation (injustice) on the expectations associated with caste is clearly negative. In the second experimental game on a smaller group of low- and high-caste Indian school boys the authors of the same World Bank study tested those expectations separately. The authors found that indeed the pre-defined content of expectations like a self-fulfilling prophecy locks the respondents into economic disadvantage. This is not a consequence of a “culture of poverty” per se, the authors say, but its enduring legacy that facilitates the division of people into categories and shapes their beliefs and expectations (Hoff and Pandey Reference Hoff and Pandey2004).


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Sławomir Redo: Dr hab. (Law/Criminology); Senior Adviser at the Academic Council on the United Nations System; formerly UN Senior Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Expert and staff of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (retired). He is a member of the Editorial Board of Asian and Caribbean journals of criminology and of the International Journal of Organizational Studies. As a visiting lecturer at Austrian, Chinese and Polish universities he teaches an interdisciplinary graduate intercultural course and a Socratic-type seminar on “The United Nations and Crime Prevention”. He is the author of some 70 criminological articles, author of three books (including Blue Criminology. The Power of United Nations Ideas to Counter Crime Globally and Organized Crime and Its Control in Central Asia), and the co-editor of four books, including Women and Children as Victims and Offenders: Background – Prevention – Reintegration. Suggestions for Succeeding Generations.