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This book presents research that focuses on Sustainable Development in Asia. Chapters are extended works of papers presented at Communication/Culture and The Sustainable Development Goals (CCSDG): Challenges for a New Generation, an international conference held in Chiang Mai University in December 2015. The chapters address assessments of Millennium Development Goals in several Asian countries and the region as a whole. The book also identifies and discusses the changes and potential improvements in the transition from Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) to Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030). Areas that are covered in the book, which are illustrated with case studies, include Corporate Social Accountability, Information and Communications Technologies, and Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The book serves as a useful resource for academics, scholars, students, and policymakers, interested in Development Studies.



Introduction: From MDGs to SDGs

This introductory chapter positions the discussion on SDGs within the broader context of development and communication perspectives. After defining ‘sustainable development’, this chapter first distinguishes between three general development paradigms (modernization, dependency, and multiplicity), and two communication paradigms (diffusion versus participatory communication). Secondly, it identifies the specific communication for social change approaches and strategies which lead towards sustainability. It then evaluates the achievements of the MDGs, and the transition from MDGs to SDGs. While introducing the other contributions, this chapter presents a strong argument for the inclusion of culture and communication in the debate on SDGs.
Jan Servaes

The Transition from MDGs to SDGs: Rethinking Buzzwords

While, much like its predecessor, ‘eradicating poverty’ remains the central and overarching narrative of the new development agenda, it looks beyond, affirming renewed and broader emphasis on ‘inequality’ and ‘sustainable development’, and at the same time, drawing attention to a set of ‘transformative’ goals. With the adoption of the new sustainable development agenda that is set to frame development thinking, practice and actions in the next 15 years, this chapter draws attention to selected keywords or buzzwords, specifically that of ‘inequality’ and ‘sustainable development’, asking, at a primary level, what do these buzzwords signify? Yet, the chapter also aims to look beyond the conventional. While the United Nations texts provide the primary point of analysis, this chapter is also strongly influenced by the challenge to include fictional representations of development within wider forms of development knowledge, given their ability to offer new insight and perspectives into development issues. Building on this challenge, at the secondary level, the chapter compares and contrasts the findings of policy texts with those of popular media in their representation of inequality and issues of sustainability. The chapter concludes by identifying what knowledge is revealed about ‘inequality’ and ‘sustainable development’, while emphasising that ‘eradicating poverty’ remains a key connecting and compelling buzzwords. It also highlights ‘transformation’ as an emerging buzzword, arguing that the term remains open to interpretation.
Madhushala Senaratne

Religious Environmentalism and Environmental Sustainability in Asia

The phase of the eight millennium development goals (MDGs) adopted by the United Nations at the beginning of 2000 has given way to the program of seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs) ratified in 2015, to be implemented until 2030. While the number of SDGs is more than twice that of MDGs and more comprehensive in outlook, examination of the individual goals indicates that most if not all of the SDGs are either directly related to environmental sustainability or indirectly concerned with the quality of the environment. This is not surprising because nations have realized, if somewhat late, that human well-being cannot be dissociated from the quality of ecosystems. The escalating global environmental crisis threatens economic and social stability and makes the innate human desire for happiness even more difficult to attain. The issue, moreover, has grown into something that cannot be confined to a single or even a few sectors of society, or that can be adequately addressed by politicians or scientists alone. Rather, achieving environmental sustainability, which is an essential component of the SDGs program, requires an interdisciplinary, dialectical, and dialogical approach involving a diverse collection of individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions. Political will, social and economic reforms, scientific and technological know-how, and religious and personal commitment are all part of the effort to address the environmental woes of the modern era. The role and contribution of religious systems and traditions for the achievement of SDGs, particularly in Asia, is the focus of this chapter. This chapter aims to present the following: (1) stating the reasons why religion is essential to the aspirations of the SDGs in Asia and (2) exploring how the major religions in Asia can contribute to promoting environmental sustainability by providing a framework for (a) assessing the root cause of environmental destruction; (b) envisioning a religious-based approach to how human beings could relate to the natural environment; and (c) presenting how religion promotes harmonious human-nature relationship through a program of self-cultivation and self-transformation. This chapter hopes to demonstrate that the task of achieving the SDGs in Asia is tied with the concern of religion and progress depends greatly on the improved state of human moral and spiritual well-being that religion aims to promote.
Anthony Le Duc

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Perspective: Lessons from the American Episcopal Missions in Sagada, Northern Philippines

In September 2015, world leaders adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. The SDGs were built upon the earlier Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to achieve universal progress without leaving anyone behind. While the SDGs provide a glorious framework for espousing development for all peoples, identifying specific nuances regarding “development” needs to be identified to contextualize the accomplishment of the SDGs, especially in the case of Asia, a multi-ethnic and highly biodiverse region. In understanding these development nuances, this chapter explores an analogy between recent and international development efforts with missionary activities initiated by American Episcopal missionaries in Sagada, northern Philippines, during the early-to-middle twentieth century. As an indigenous community, certain aspects of Sagada culture allow natives to interact harmoniously with their ecosystems in a distinct culture–environment nexus. For instance, indigenous values indicate land and water bodies as places which should be dealt with care if to avoid being a receiver of some sort of paranormal retribution. Undoubtedly, the indigenous religion, cultural, and social arrangements have enabled Sagada folk to sustain their landscapes and natural resources into the modern world amidst culture changing arrangements introduced by American Episcopal missionary works. On the other hand, unfavourable effects have been inevitable and thus need to be emphasized in order to sustain growth beyond SDGs.
Danesto B. Anacio

Companies’ Accountability in Sustainability: A Comparative Analysis of SDGs in Five Countries

As global environmental and humanitarian issues exacerbate, leaders and nations are striving hard to tackle these challenges at a global level collaboratively. With the setting of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its 2030 Agenda, the role of business in economic, social and environmental development has never been more imperative. In fact, companies have connected sustainable development (SD) practices to their own business initiatives. To support this trend, the Organization for Economic Co-ordination and Development (OECD) has recently developed a set of guidelines for the private sector to initiate responsible business practices. Globally, the trend points to businesses being more accountable, responsible and putting more emphasis on sustainability. Motivations to engage in sustainable practices vary. When companies integrate sustainability into their business, the management of these initiatives needs to be integrated as well. Certain tools and guidelines exist for companies to help support the internal management of sustainability, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). However, there is little research on how companies formulate their SD goals and objectives, set priorities and measure the impacts of these initiatives. Doing so would increase their transparency and help convey meaningful information to their stakeholders. This chapter provides a critical analysis of how companies from five different countries integrate SDGs into their business activities. Each of these countries faces different, as well as similar types of sustainability challenges. The five countries that have been included in this research project are as follows: Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Australia and Malaysia. The authors conclude that the private sector lacks strategy when they plan for integrating sustainability.
Kamala Vainy Pillai, Pavel Slutsky, Katharina Wolf, Gaelle Duthler, Inka Stever

Information Communication Technologies (ICT) for Education Projects in ASEAN: Can We Close the Digital Divide?

One of the main challenges facing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is to achieve sustainable development by bridging the digital divide throughout the region. During the past ten years, the member states of ASEAN have made significant investments in ICT infrastructure in order to increase ICT accessibility and adoption rates among the people residing in the ASEAN region. ASEAN, through the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), launched the ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2015 in 2011. The sixth strategy of this plan is “bridging the digital divide” in order to eliminate the ICT development gap across the ASEAN region and to increase ICT in education through various initiatives. This chapter synthesizes the qualitative and quantitative research articles published between 2005 and 2015 that focused on the implementation of ICT in the education programs in ASEAN. In light of Van Dijk’s (The deepening divide: Inequality in the information society. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, Van Dijk 2005) causal and sequential model of digital technology, the objectives of this chapter are to provide a comprehensive overview of the current situation regarding ICT for education programs in ASEAN countries, and to identify the barriers to ICT adoption and use in education. The results indicate that some ASEAN member states such as Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam began investing in ICT infrastructures and Internet connection only in the last few years. On the other hand, other member states such as Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore have further developed ICT projects in their schools. The teacher’s technical mastery of ICT skills in integrating ICT into student learning in Thailand is insufficient. Teachers have suggested that the ICT training courses should include creating educational media lessons in order to enhance teachers’ operational ICT skills. Accessing ICT in the Bruneian, Singaporean, and Malaysian schools is limited, despite much investment in ICT infrastructure, computers, and professional training. Barriers to such access still exist, and especially after receiving ICT training, teachers report lack of time to integrate ICT into their classes due to heavy workloads. The findings offer policy makers ideas concerning guidance in terms of strengthening the efficacy of ICT for education programs and achieving the ASEAN ICT master plan 2015 in closing the digital divide and reaching sustainable development goals in the ASEAN region.
Pornpun Prajaknate

A Socio-Cognitive Approach to the Communication of SME Support. An Exploratory Qualitative Study in Turkmenistan

Certain researchers call to reconsider Communication for development and social change as a problem of “Techniques and Society” (McArthur, Jouët, Bardini, Lohento, Kiyindou, Missé). Thus, the models of social integration of innovations are used here to study how the new development assistance modules are accepted and appropriated by their final users in developing countries. There is no need to prove anymore that users’ reception and appropriation of the proposed service is critical to the development programs’ effectiveness, be it in public health, environmental issues, small and medium enterprise (SME) development, or other. We synthesize the Anglo-Saxon and French models and distinguish the common determinant axes for the innovations or novelties reception: before their actual use (acceptance models) and after it (appropriation models). The common base appears to be the mental construction of the sense of use: the user mobilizes his representations “already there” (anchoring in existing representations, Moscovici, Jodelet, LeBlanc) and his imaginary (Flichy, Musso) to assess the associated use benefitscosts, the anticipated-perceived use experience. In the literature, this mental construction process is theorized as the formation of the Perceived Value of Use (PVU) (Jouet, Mallein and Toussaint, Mallein et coll., Toussaint, Boenisch, Assude et al, Nelson, Kim et al.). However, it is necessary to further explore this process. Eager to explore the PVU concept in detail, we conducted a two-phase field qualitative study within the SME support sector (UN Sustainable Development Goals 8.3 and 9.3), in Turkmenistan, Central Asia. Our results suggest that we can model the PVU formation mechanism, and its role in the cognitive appropriation and acceptance of the new support services by the final users. We propose to test the results of our research, within the context of other developing countries and of other sectors.
Maya Velmuradova

Structural Reform Empowers Sustainable Development and Eradicates Poverty

Many countries in the world are projected in the global media to enjoy the benefits of globalization and advanced technology as the blessing of high economic prosperity. In recent years, the real picture emerged when economic crisis even afflicted the well-developed Western countries. It remained as a pre-warning to many developing counties in the world to assess their developmental strategies and economical pursuits. The recent collapse of the economy of Greece is a global lesson for many countries. Some countries blamed their governments adopting a capitalistic market-driven Western model. Others blamed the peoples’ inabilities or lack of technological adaptation as the cause for poverty. The concept of poverty is related to development. Social development is broadly understood as a process where people are involved to raise their standard of living by means of activities designed by their free will. So far almost all governments in the world proclaimed this type of development as their agenda and coveted the political powers. How far they have succeeded in providing this sustainable development and empowerment? To understand the situation, we need a clear understanding of the concept of empowerment. This chapter will explore the meaning of empowerment and its intricacies from its ideological origin from Brazilian educationist Paulo Freire, who defined that a people’s empowerment can be achieved only through peoples’ awareness and participation. Our own renowned economist and Noble Prize winner Amartya Sen says that poverty is not simply the deprivation of basic material needs but concerns significant development in all dimensions of people’s life. A quantitative research study is designed to assess the status of empowerment and progress in the present life through conducting a survey of sustainable development. The communication strategy and the structural change needed are also assessed in this research method. The findings of this study will provide us with a policy-related theoretical base. This will provide some information based on which this research can make recommendations and propose a structural reform for achieving sustainable development. Lastly, this chapter will present a method how to eradicate poverty by harnessing the political governance system through reforming existing structure. It can provide proper adoption of technology and media as a participatory means in the hands of local people.
G. Arockiasamy, Mallika Vijayakumar, Sujeevan Kumar, J. B. Anna Asheervadham Mary

Conclusion: Are the SDGs “Sustainable”?

This concluding chapter argues that a successful implementation of the SDGs will have to address at least four challenges: (a) How can we bring together the right stakeholders at the right time in the right place?, (b) How do we make difficult trade-offs?, (c) How do we build in accountability and transparency for action?, and (d) How to organize this in a participatory and democratic way? It argues that a participatory approach is about dialogue, participation and the sharing of knowledge and information in a specific context, and briefly positions seven new challenges which emerged during the last decade, as a consequence of globalization, media liberalization, mediatization, rapid economic and social change, and the emergence of new social media and information and communication technologies (ICTs). It reiterates that, in the final analysis, the SDGs appeal to moral and ethical principles which we should share as people on this planet.
Jan Servaes


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