The EU’s Role in the Implementation of the SDGs in Asia Pacific

The Jean Monnet Sustainable Development Goals Network led by the EU Centre at RMIT University, brought together researchers, policy think tanks and Non-Government Organisations who share a primary interest in enhancing the effective contribution of the EU to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Asia Pacific. It was supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union (EU).

The network was informed by the fact that in September 2015, the United Nations unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda, seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to shape international efforts to promote a sustainable, peaceful and equitable world by 2030. Each Goal is accompanied by a set of more specific targets with indicators to measure progress.

The European Union is the global leader in development policy and aid, and was an active contributor throughout the process of the development of the SDGs. In June 2016, the EU released Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe, the EU’s Global Strategy for its Foreign and Security Policy. It aims for global prosperity and speaks about building resilient societies which require fulfilling the SDGs worldwide. In November 2016, the European Commission released a statement for the EU institutions: Proposal for a new European Consensus on Development – Our World, our Dignity, our Future. The paper outlined a framework for implementation of the SDGs under the priorities of People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace. It emphasised that the Goals can best be met through enhanced cooperation of the EU and its Member States which is possible only through the EU integration process. Since then, this principle of collaboration and implementation has been reinforced for EU Member States and Asian nations through forums such as the Asia-Europe Meeting and the Asia-Europe Foundation. In the European Union, the SDGs are a central pillar of internal and external policy and action, across all levels of governance.

The Jean Monnet Sustainable Development Goals Network was established in 201 and sought to formalise relationships amongst key researchers, policy think tanks and Non-Government Organisations who share a primary interest in enhancing the effective contribution of the EU to the implementation of the SDGs in the Asia Pacific.

By strengthening collaboration amongst researchers and policy makers, the Network promoted a more effective evidence-base for EU institutions to engage with nations in the region to implement the SDGs. Its core questions were: how can European Union integration be more effective in supporting the implementation of the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific than would be possible for individual Member States? How can this role be developed further?

PI and Co-Is - International Collaborators

PI - Professor Bruce Wilson, Director of EU Centre, RMIT University and Honorary Professor of Education, University of Glasgow

Other partners in the network are:

National Centre for Research on Europe, the University of Canterbury (NZ)

School of Education, University of Glasgow (Co-Is - Professor Michele Schweisfurth and Professor Michael Osborne)

Centre for European Studies, Australian National University (ANU)

European Union Centre in Singapore, National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Start and End Date

2017 - 2021

Funder and funding amount

The Jean Monnet SDG Network is co-funded by the Jean Monnet Activities Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

Project number: 587660-EPP-1-2017-1-AU-EPPJMO-NETWORK.   


Related Publications

Policy Briefs

SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Dr Mathew Doidge and Dr Serena Kelly. National Centre for Research on Europe, University of Canterbury, New Zealand    

SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Associate Professor Lauren Rickards and Dr Emma Shortis, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University

SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, Dr Debbi Long, Senior Lecturer, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University

SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for allAssociate Professor Jose Roberto GuevaraRMIT University

SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, Lavinia Hirsu, Lamiah Hashemi, and Zenaida Quezada-Reyes, University of Glasgow, University of Kurdistan, Philippine Normal University

SDG 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, Naomi Francis, Nossal Institute for Global Health and the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne

SDG7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, Bradley Davison, RMIT University

SDG8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, Associate Professor Sharif As-Saber, RMIT University & GAIN International

SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation, Associate Professor Jerry Courvisanos, Federation University

SDG10: Reduce inequality within and among countries, Dr Mathew Doidge and Dr Serena Kelly, University of Canterbury, New Zealand    

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, Campbell Hughes, RMIT University

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, Campbell Hughes, RMIT University


Spotlight on Australia's Progress on SDG 4, Australian Coalition for Education & Development (ACED), May 2019

Jean Monnet SDG Network Research Roundtable 1 ReportOctober 2018

Jean Monnet SDG Network Research Roundtable 2 Report, October 2019

Azizi, N.A., Borkowska, K., Houston, M., Ketuly, KA., Mohammad, S.A., Mwaikokesya, M., Neary, J., Nherera, C., Osborne, M., Reyes, Z. and Swanepoel, E. (2019) The Role of Higher Education for Displaced and Marginalized Peoples – The SUEUAA Project. Project Report. Centre for Research & Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning (CR&DALL), Glasgow. 


Wilson, B., Doidge, M., Shortis, E. & Guevara, R. Collaborative Approaches to Implementing the United Nations SDG Agenda: A Policy Dialogue, Singapore, 13 June 2019.

Wilson, B. Introduction to the Jean Monnet Network, RMIT Global Compact Cities Programme event “Building the SDGs from the Ground Up,” RMIT University, 20 March 2019.

Shortis, E. Introducing the SDGs, Workshop: Innovating with Purpose for the SDGs, RMIT University Engaging for Impact Conference, 20 February 2019.

Wilson, B. Keynote Address: Regional Resilience and Wellbeing: The Relevance of the Sustainable Development Goals, Regional Studies Association Australasia Conference, University of Canterbury, New Zealand., 11-13 February 2019.

Journal Articles

As-Saber, S. The ‘Global/Local Black Value Chain’ in the Readymade Garment (RMG) Industry: An Ethics, Legal and Governance Perspective. South Asia Journal, October 2018, 28-44.

As-Saber, S., Waheduzzaman, W., and Hamid, M. B. (2018) Elite capture of local participatory governance. Policy and Politics, 46(4), pp. 645-662.

Doidge, M. (2017) The Changing Place of Development in EU–Asia Relations. The European Journal of Development Research, 29(4), pp 926–941. doi:10.1057/s41287-016-0070-3

Shannon, W., Doidge, M., & Holland, M. (2019) A clash of internationalizations: New Zealand and the Bologna Process. European Journal of Higher Education, 9(1), 73-86. doi:10.1080/21568235.2018.1561312

Guevara, R., Osborne, M. and Wilson, B. (eds.) (2018) Special Issue: Lifelong learning and sustainable development. Australian Journal of Adult Learning (AJAL), 58(3).

Lai, S., Holland, M., & Kelly, S. (2019) The Emperor's new clothes? Perceptions of the EU's strategic partnerships in Asia. Asia Europe Journal, 17(3), 341-360. doi:10.1007/s10308-019-00558-y

Mori Junior, Renzo., Fien, J. and Horne, R. (2019) Implementing the UN SDGs in Universities: Challenges, Opportunities, and Lessons Learned. Sustainability: The Journal of Record, 12(2), 129-133. doi:10.1089/sus.2019.0004

Neary, J. and Osborne, M. (2018) University engagement in achieving sustainable development goals: a synthesis of case studies from the SUEUAA study. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 58(3).

Borkowska, K. and Osborne, M.(2018) Locating the fourth helix: rethinking the role of civil society in developing smart learning cities. International Review of Education, 64(3), pp. 355-372.

Osborne, M. and Borkowska, K.(2017) A European lens upon adult and lifelong learning in Asia. Asia Pacific Education Review, 18(2), pp. 269-280.

Schweisfurth, M. and Elliott, J. (2019) When ‘best practice’ meets the pedagogical nexus: recontextualisation, reframing and resilience. Comparative Education, 55(1), pp. 1-8.

Schweisfurth, M. , Davies, L., Pe Symaco, L. and Valiente, O. (2018) Higher education, bridging capital, and developmental leadership in the Philippines: Learning to be a crossover reformer. International Journal of Educational Development, 59, pp. 1-8.

Moskal, M. and Schweisfurth, M. (2018) Learning, using and exchanging global competence in the context of international postgraduate mobility. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 16(1), pp. 93-105.

Book Chapters

Spiel, C., Schwartzman, S., Busemeyer, M., Cloete, N., Drori, G., Lassnigg, L., Schober, B., Schweisfurth, M. and Verma, S. (2018) The contribution of education to social progress. In: International Panel on Social Progress, (ed.) Rethinking Society for the 21st Century: Report of the International Panel for Social Progress. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 753-778. ISBN 9781108399661 (doi: 10.1017/9781108399661.006)


Mascitelli, Bruno and Wilson, BruceSo Distant, So Close: Australia and the European Union in the 21st Century (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2018). 

Carney, S. and Schweisfurth, M. (Eds.) (2018) Equity In and Through Education: Changing Contexts, Consequences and Contestations. Series: Comparative and international education (Sense Publishers). Koninklije Brill NV: Leiden.



Project news

The European Union Centre at RMIT, which co-ordinates this network initiated a seminar series to address each of the 17 sustainable development goals. Each seminar focused on one goal, offering an opportunity to explore the intent of the goal, its targets, and some of the initiatives being undertaken to deliver on the targets. Each seminar was accompanied by a policy brief, 17 in total.

The network ran from 2019-2021 a series of workshops for graduate students and early career researchers (broadly defined) in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK aimed at making sense of the emerging place of the SDGs in universities as follows:


Workshop 1: Sustainable Development Goals Research: troubles and opportunities

Workshop 2: Publishing your SDG research


Workshop 1: Sustainable Development Goals Research: linking your research with the united nations’ global agenda for transformation

Workshop 2: Sustainable Development Goals Research: troubles and opportunities


Workshop 1: Transformations: Place, Power and the Sustainable Development Goals

Workshop 2: Global Governance for Transformation

The final conference of the network, Europe, the Asia Pacific and the Global Transformation Agenda, was oraganised online from 24th-26th March 2021.

A final publication from the network is in progress with contributions from all partners, including two inputs from the University of Glasgow and its collaborators. 

Wilson, B (Ed.) (2021). The EU’s Role in the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Asia-Pacific. Canberra: University of Canberra Press (in press)

University of Glasgow contributions:

Osborne, M. & Wilson, G. (2021). Strengthening Capacity to Address Urban, Health and Education Challenges in Fast Growing Cities and Neighbourhoods. Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC).

Delos Reyes, M.R., Gamboa, M.A.M., Rivera, R.R.B., Daguio, K.G.L. & Schweisfurth,M. (2021) Relating and Measuring the SDGs in the City of Manila’s Neighbourhoods