When the international community gathered for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio +20 – in June 2012, it mandated the formulation of sustainable development goals which should be coherent with and integrated into the UN’s post 2015 development agenda. An Open Working Group was tasked to articulate and propose a set of SDGs – Sustainable Development Goals – that would guide the world’s development framework for the period 2016-2030.
The Open Working Group has now concluded its final report and has proposed goals that are action oriented, global in nature and universally applicable. The proposed goals build on, and seek to complete, unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but they also respond to new global challenges. The SDGs are thus much broader and more specific than their predecessor, the MDGs.
The process of formulating the proposed new goals took 17 months, from March 2013 through July 2014. The working methods of the Open Working Group were very inclusive as consultations were held with all relevant stakeholders, including representatives from governments, civil society, NGOs, and the private section (business).
All of this has resulted in a proposal for 17 concrete goals with a total of 169 targets. These goals address a host of environmental, social and economic concerns, including climate change; access to sustainable energy; deforestation, desertification, oceans, land degradation, and loss of biodiversity; as well as sustainable consumption and production patterns. Of a more economic and social nature are the proposed goals calling for sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth; building resilient infrastructure; and the need to reduce inequality within and among nations. The proposed SDGs also continue MDGs that will not fully be achieved. Thus, poverty eradication, ending hunger and the need for inclusive, equitable, quality education have a necessary place among the proposed goals.
The Open Working Group’s proposal is called the “Zero-Draft” and is the basis from which the 193 Member States of the UN will negotiate their final text. These negotiations are scheduled to begin in early 2015, under the leadership of the Ambassadors of Kenya and Ireland who will serve as co-facilitators. The negotiations will ultimately lead to a set of final Sustainable Development Goals which are meant to be adopted by the General Assembly in September 2015.
–Cecile Meijer, rscj