The Global Goals for Sustainable Development SDGs - Photo Courtesy of WHO official website
CAIRO – 19 May 2017: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) officially known as “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” are the result of collaboration and coordination among UN member states.
To better understand the SDGs, it is important to learn about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). SDGs are considered as the subsequent of MDGs adopted in 2000 and expired at the end of 2015.
The MDGs were the first important and focal point for governments to orient their policies and programs to end poverty and improve the lives of poor people. They contributed to increasing the space for aid providers, NGOs and the people to hold governments accountable for their commitments.
MDGs included 8 universally-agreed goals to tackle indignity of poverty, preventing deadly diseases, and expanding primary education to all children among other development priorities. The MDGs realized progress in reducing income poverty, providing access to water and sanitation, reducing child mortality and drastically improving maternal health. Most significantly, the MDGs made huge strides in combating HIV/AIDS and other treatable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. HIV/AIDS infections fell by almost 40 percent since 2000.
The MDGs were criticized for being too narrow and not inclusive enough. For that reason, the SDGs were proposed to be more inclusive and sustainable and to complete what was not achieved. They build on the successes of the MDGs and incorporate lessons learnt to introduce a universal call on ending poverty, improving lives of people everywhere, and to ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity through concrete, achievable, and sustainable actions to protect the planet for future generations.
In addition, the SDGs introduce new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities.
The UN secretary General recommended in December 2014 “the development of a universal, integrated and human rights-based agenda for sustainable development, addressing economic growth, social justice and environmental stewardship and highlighting the link between peace, development and human rights – an agenda that leaves no one behind.”
The SDGs development process commenced in 2012 at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, at Rio de Janeiro “Rio+20.” The objective of this process was to develop a set of universal goals that meet the urgent environment, political, and economic challenges facing the world.
In July 2014, the UN General Assembly's “Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG)” was created and commissioned to make a draft set of goals.
The OWG draft contained 17 goals and 169 targets covering a wide range of development issues, ranging from ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting the environment.
In January 2016 the goals came into action as an international, inclusive and indivisible agenda adopted by 193 states to guide international development policies for the next 15 years until 2030.
The goals are contained in paragraph 54 of the UN resolution A/RES/70/1 of September 25, 2015, which serves as a broader intergovernmental agreement that acts as the Post 2015 Development Agenda. The SDGs build on agreed upon principles popularly known as The Future We Want stated in Resolution A/RES/66/288.
The SDGs agenda provide guidelines and targets for all UN member states to be adopted and used in framing their political agendas and policies in accordance with their priorities and the global challenges at large. The goals guide the role of public, non-profit, for profit, and voluntary sectors in global development.
SDGs goals include:
Goal 1: “No Poverty.” End poverty in all its forms by targeting the most vulnerable and increasing access to basic recourses and services
Goal 2: “Zero Hunger.” End hunger and malnutrition by achieving food security and improved nutrition through promoting sustainable agriculture
Goal 3: “Good Health and Well-Being.” Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages through providing access to safe and affordable medicines and vaccines
Goal 4: “Quality Education.” Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5: “Gender Equality.” Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by affording equal rights to economic resources such as land and property and access to sexual and reproductive health
Goal 6: “Clean water and sanitation.” Ensure access to safe, affordable water and sanitation for all
Goal 7: “Affordable and clean energy.” Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all through investing in clean energy sources such as solar, wind and thermal
Goal 8: “Decent Work and Economic Growth.” Promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, full productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9: “Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.” Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10: “Reduced Inequalities.” Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11: “Sustainable Cities and Communities.” Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12: “Responsible Consumption and Production.” Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13: “Climate Action.” Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14: “Life below Water.” Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15: “Life on Land.” Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16: “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.” Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build
effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17: “Partnership for the Goals.” Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global partnership for sustainable development
The United Nations Development Program UNDP is uniquely placed to help implement the Goals through working in some 170 countries and territories. The process of following up on SDGs implementation takes place annually in the “High-level Political Forum” meeting. The first meeting took place in 2013 under the theme “Building the future we want: from Rio+20 to the post 2015 development agenda.”
In 2017 the meeting of the high-level political forum on sustainable development will convene July 10-19 under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. This year’s theme will be "Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world." The set of goals to be reviewed in depth will be Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14, and 17.
The most important accomplishments since the adoption of the SDGs include the historic agreement reached in 2015 at the COP21 Paris Climate Conference, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, signed in Japan in March 2015. These two agreements provide a set of common standards and achievable targets to reduce carbon emissions, manage climate change and natural disasters, and to build back better after a crisis.
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