Dr. Melanie van Driel

Visiting Researcher
Global Sustainability Governance

Can Governance Through Global Goalsetting steer the behavior of global-level actors? If so, how does this contribute to attaining reduced inequalities, greater environmental protection and sustainable development? If not, what can we do to govern these complex issues effectively?


Melanie van Driel is a PhD candidate within the GlobalGoals project at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Within the GlobalGoals project, she studies the steering effect of the Sustainable Development Goals at the global level. In this context, her focus is on the role that the Sustainable Development Goals might have in steering international organizations and other global actors towards institutional integration. 

She has completed work on a project titled Exploring modes of global level cooperation for SDG indicator custodianship. The paper that resulted from this study is published in Global Policy and can be accessed via this link.

Thereafter, she worked on a project titled The engagement of International Organizations with the SDGs; the case of the World Bank, inequality and SDG 10. This project is currently being finalized. 


Melanie is currently working on a project investigating the role of the United Nations Regional Commissions for the SDGs. 


In relation to this research, Melanie has co-authored book chapters on governance fragmentation, global governance for the SDGs and governance through goals more generally, all of which published by Cambridge University Press.  

With her research, Melanie aims to contribute to the scholarly discussions on the best governance structures to tackle urgent global issues like climate change, inequality and other key factors related to sustainable development. 

The GlobalGoals project is exemplary of her broader interest in earth system governance (in the Anthropocene), and especially in questions surrounding governance architecture. Keywords here are fragmentation, polycentricity, complexity, institutional integration, interlinkages and interactions. Since 2020, Melanie has been a Research Fellow at the Earth System Governance Network. As part of the ESG Research network, Melanie is co-chair of the Global Governance working group of the Taskforce on the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Before joining the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development she worked as a lecturer at the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs (FGGA) at Leiden University, teaching many Public Administration courses.

Between 2017 and 2021, Melanie fulfilled the role of book review editor for the Journal of Comparative Sociology, published by Brill Publishers.

A Political Scientist by training, she earlier on specialized in International Relations - studying China, Central Eurasia, the MENA region and the post-Soviet countries of Eastern Europe - and policy and governance at the University of Amsterdam, with a focus on the Political Economy of Energy.