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Sustainable Development Goals

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The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of 17 universal goals that United Nations members states had adopted to frame the global development agenda for next 15 years.

On September 25, 2015, the world leaders gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and adopted an outcome document which marked the culmination of the negotiations on sustainable development called ‘Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’. This is a truly universal and transformative global development agenda for the next 15 years that aims to guide the international community and national governments on a pathway towards sustainable development, taking everyone on board. The Outcome document contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, as well as a section on means of implementation and renewed global partnership, and a framework for review and follow-up. This historic agenda calls upon countries at all development stages -poor, rich and middle-income -to join the efforts in realizing economic growth, social inclusion, environmental protection, all underpinned by good governance.  The ‘five Ps’--people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership--encapsulates the broad scope of the agenda. The SDGs strengthens all the three dimensions of sustainable development- economic, social and environmental.

SDGs would replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were in place from 2000 to 2015. Adopted in 2000, the MDGs had eight key targets like eradication of poverty and hunger, universal primary education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, combat HIV/aIDS, malaria and other diseases, environment sustainability and to develop a global partnership for development. Some of the targets have already been met, such as halving the number of people living in extreme poverty. Despite the progress, the indignity of poverty has not ended for all. The new SDGs are expected to go a step ahead, address the root causes of poverty and other sustainable development agenda and areas which could not be completed earlier.

This process emanated from one of the main outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) constituted a 30 member Open Working Group (OWG) in January, 2013 for preparing a proposal on the SDGs. The OWG submitted its final report to the UNGA.

The agenda highlights poverty eradication as the overarching goal and has at its core the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. This also calls for an invigorated, global partnership for sustainable development, including for multi-stakeholder partnerships, in addition to enhancing capacities of stake holders in better quality measurement and compilation of data or information on sustainable development. One of the core elements of the outcome document was an effective follow-up and review architecture which is crucial to support the implementation of the new agenda.

The High Level Political Forum on sustainable development, set up after the Rio+20 Conference, will be the apex forum for follow up and review while the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and specialized agencies will also be reviewing specific areas.


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