Fifteen years ago, the United Nations member states set a lofty goal: to work together to relieve poverty, hunger, disease, and lack of access to basic education, safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. Eight areas were targeted for improvement, collectively named the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs.
Significant progress was made, including the successful halving of extreme poverty. The UN now has laid out successor framework called the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” a transformative vision to guide development activities for the next 15 years to complete the unfinished business of the MDGs and go much farther.
It calls for the eradication of extreme poverty, for example. Central to this is the advancement of inclusive economic growth, underpinned by effective governance and accountable institutions.
The Agenda also sets high bars for improved food security, water, health, education and improved infrastructure. It focuses on justice and peace, and emphasizes vital cross-cutting issues such as empowering women and girls, achieving gender equality. It integrates sustainability into the development agenda, which incorporates access to energy, sustainable management of healthy oceans and conservation of ecosystems, and combatting climate change.
The Agenda document, which includes a political declaration, 17 goals and a description of how to achieve the goals through implementation, is expected to be ratified by the UN General Assembly in September.
“While the new agenda is a worthy successor to the Millennium Development Goals, it is far more comprehensive, addressing economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a holistic and integrated manner,” said Secretary of State John Kerry.
“The truly hard part now lies before us. Our ability to deliver on the transformational benefits of this agenda will turn on whether we shoulder our collective responsibility to achieve results.”
Indeed, a partnership of global scale and harnessing all financial flows for the good of global development will be needed. At the Financing for Development Conference that took place in Addis Ababa in July, it was clear that developing countries want to take greater ownership of their own development. Working together through, for example, the Addis Tax Initiative, established donors can help them to raise and spend their own funds to this end.
“We look forward to working with governments, civil society, academia, the private sector, the scientific community, and citizens around the world to implement this agreement,” Secretary Kerry said. “We must translate the bold promise of this historic consensus into better lives for people everywhere.”