Adopted in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include 17 goals that are calling all member states of the United Nations to action. Only in a global partnership of developing and developed countries the targets of the SDGs can be achieved (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2020). The development of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was an important step, particularly for international climate politics by recognising the connection between development and climate change (Chong 2018: 43). Serving these objectives, knowledge and financial resources will have to be heavily mobilised in order to support the achievement of the SDGs (Mohieldin 2019: xxix).

The doctoral project looks into the establishment of the Regional Sustainable Energy Centres which marks an important step in this direction by linking development and climate change objectives. The Global Network of the Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC) has been developed to promote climate-friendly and sustainable energy and technology, particularly in developing countries and foster the implementation of South-South cooperation under the lead of the UNIDO (GN-SEC 2018).

Drawing on empirical work with selected Regional Sustainable Energy Centres, the doctoral project aims to gain a profound understanding of the South-South cooperation and the implementation process of the sustainable energy agenda. The theoretical framework that guides the research builds upon three approaches which include an institutional international political economy perspective (Bieling 2011; Wullweber, Graf, Behrens 2013), a post-colonial approach (Young 2016; McLeod 2007; Barthel 2019) as well as an understanding of South-South cooperation as alternative development (Muhr 2016; Gosovic 2016). Applying a post-colonial approach will help to investigate the question of knowledge exchange and technology transfer within the political field of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Defining South-South cooperation as alternative development will enable the project to look deeply into the possibilities of networking and policy-making within an intergovernmental space dedicated to a transition to sustainable energy and also look into power relations of the partnerships. Using an international political economy approach will facilitate the analysis of the political system and institution and the understanding of political structures.

The doctoral project has a focus on finding out how it is possible to reach the Sustainable Development Goals from within the Global South. As the emphasis regarding possible SDG implementation is rather on the international and national levels, often the regional level is not included. Therefore, the research project focuses on a very relevant and often ignored level with a lot of potential for SDG implementation.

Planned methods to gather and analyse data include literature research which will be analysed using a qualitative content analysis approach guided by Mayring (2015). Furthermore, the method used to collect empirical data will be qualitative interviews with stakeholders and other actors to answer to the research questions. Depending on the counterpart, these will be open interviews, guided interviews or expert interviews (Dannecker, Vossemer 2014: 155-161). The transcribed interviews will then be analysed using a qualitative content analysis method for interview data (Kuckartz 2016).


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Bieling, Hans-Jürgen (2011): Internationale Politische Ökonomie. Eine Einführung. 2., aktualisierte Auflage. Lehrbuch, Studienbücher Außenpolitik und Internationale Beziehungen. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Springer Fachmedien.

Chong, Daniel (2018): The Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change. In: Social Alternatives, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 43 - 48.

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