International Development Planning Review

Universalism and national ownership in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): perspectives from Vietnam

International Development Planning Review Ahead of print, 1–26.


This article articulates and analyses the tension between universalism and national ownership in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It focuses on the context of Vietnam as a one-party state, committed to the SDGs, that combines socialist commitments and capitalist aspirations. The SDGs have been critiqued from many angles, and ‘national ownership’ is pivotal to an evaluation of these competing perspectives. The article examines how far, in the tension between global commitments and national ownership, the SDG agenda itself is compromised. Using the set of goals, targets and indicators as well as cross-cutting foundational principles championed by the Agenda 2030, i.e. ‘leave no one behind’, ‘multi-stakeholder participation’ and ‘indivisibility’, the article sheds light on the dynamics of Vietnam’s national ownership of the SDGs and reflects on what this means for the SDGs.

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