Prof. Dr. Darrel Moellendorf - Research

Sustainable Development, Global Governance, and Justice

Severe poverty, massive inequalities, and climate change conspire to create some of the most pressing practical problems that humanity faces. This research project assumes that climate change mitigation and adaptation and poverty eradication cannot be separated as distinct policy goals. Billions of people live in desperate poverty and are especially vulnerable both to shocks in the global financial system and the impact of climate change. A major moral reason to care about climate change is the effect that it will have on the poor.

The extreme deprivation and the vulnerability of persons living in poverty is inconsistent with an international order based on the inherent dignity of persons as understood within the context of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The persistence of severe poverty, growing inequality, and increasing CO2 emissions are evidence of massive failures in our current system of global governance. Just governance, of course, requires a sophisticated understanding of the causes of such failures and the likely consequences of remedial action. But it also requires an understanding of what we have good reasons to promote, preserve, and respect as well as which institutions, policies, and actions such valuing requires. And taking steps in the right direction requires an understanding of the threats and opportunities for social change.

This research project combines investigations into moral and political philosophy, international organizations and institutions, and the kind of action that produces appropriate social change. It ranges over basic questions of the justification of fundamental values, the justification of normative principles, the recommendation of institutional and policy proposals based upon normative principles, and the bases for efficacious political action.

Central topics include: The nature and role of human dignity in political justification. The moral value of sustainable development and its proper aim. The justification and role of socio-economic rights in human development. The appropriate aims of the post-2015 (post-Millennium Human Development Goals) development agenda. The requirements of just international trade and financial regimes. The factors conducing to poverty and global inequality. Justice in the distribution of climate change mitigation and adaptation burdens. The appropriate international regimes of climate change governance. The role, if any, for geo-engineering in climate policy. The justification and practical possibilities of forms of sustainable development facilitating international taxation. And the moral and prudential grounds for cross-border solidarity.