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Liudmila Zakharova1
  • 1 MGIMO-University, 76 Prospect Vernadskogo, Moscow, 119454, Russia

A Bumpy Road to Bright Goals:North Korea’s Approach to Implementingthe 2030 Agenda and Prospectsfor International Cooperation

2022. Vol. 17. No. 3. P. 175–193 [issue contents]

One of the issues on the national agenda of low-income developing countries is the formulation of their own sustainable development strategies. The United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an important benchmark and road map for achieving this goal. At the same time, local specifics have an impact on the approaches, methods and possibilities for achieving the declared goals in each particular state.

This study analyzes the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) Voluntary National Review on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda, official North Korean statements, and Russian and foreign academic and analytical publications in order to outline North Korea's approach to localizing the sustainable development goals (SDGs), identify problems arising in this process, and highlight prospects for international cooperation. Methods of comparative and content analysis were used in the research.

It is maintained that, in search of its own strategy, the DPRK’s leadership is trying to use international experience by integrating the SDGs into national development plans. North Korean specifics lie in reformulating global SDGs according to the national narrative of local-style socialism construction, the decisive role of the state in the development and implementation of actual plans, a formal approach to the implementation of some SDGs, and a focus on economic self-sufficiency as a guarantee of sustainable development.

Despite the need for external assistance to achieve the main national SDGs, at present, the possibilities for international cooperation with the DPRK are significantly limited. The implementation of joint initiatives or assistance projects requires both obtaining permission from the UN Security Council 1718 Sanctions Committee and opening the borders of North Korea, which have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, given the global scope of the tasks set out in the 2030 Agenda, it is highly likely that in the medium and long term the DPRK will resume international cooperation in key areas of sustainable development—agriculture, health care, access to clean drinking water and sanitation, and climate change, as well as energy and transport infrastructure modernization. The main partners in this cooperation can be international organizations and neighbouring Russia and China.

This research was funded by MGIMO-University, project number 2023-03-03

Citation: Zakharova L. (2022) A Bumpy Road to Bright Goals:North Korea’s Approach to Implementingthe 2030 Agenda and Prospectsfor International Cooperation. International Organisations Research Journal, vol. 17, no 3, pp. 175-193 (in English).
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