Sustainable Development Goals

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Logo of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development'

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) refer to an agreement of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 (Rio+20), to develop a set of future international development goals.


The current development agenda is centred on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were officially established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations (UN) in 2000. The MDGs encapsulate eight globally agreed goals in the areas of poverty alleviation, education, gender equality and empowerment of women, child and maternal health, environmental sustainability, reducing HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases, and building a global partnership for development.

As the target date of the MDGs, 2015, is approaching, a debate on the framework of international development beyond 2015 has started. In this vein, 192 UN member states agreed at the Rio+20 summit to start a process of designing sustainable development goals, which are “action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities”.[1]

The Rio+20 outcome document, “The Future We Want”, also calls for the goals to be integrated into the UN’s post-2015 Development Agenda.[2]

Current process[edit]

Since Rio+20 did not elaborate specific goals, a 30-member Open Working Group (OWG) was established on 22 January 2013 by the decision of the UN General Assembly. The OWG is tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs for consideration during the 68th session of the General Assembly, September 2013 – September 2014.[3]

The OWG uses a constituency-based system of representation, which means that most of the seats in the working group are shared by several countries.

The Rio+20 outcome document states that, “at the outset, the OWG will decide on its methods of work, including developing modalities to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the United Nations system in its work, in order to provide a diversity of perspectives and experience”.[4]

International Symposium on the Post 2015 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals[edit]

In September of 2013 it was announced that a major International Symposium on the Post 2015 Agenda would be held in Sydney, Australia on the 12th and 13th of November 2014. Timed to coincide with Australia's hosting of the G20 Summit that same year, the focus will be on collaboration between business and industry, civil society, institutions and governments. It was also announced that there would be lead in events throughout 2014 in India, New Zealand and Australia. Symposium Chair is Matthew Tukaki, Chairman of Sustain Group.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ UN General Assembly Creates Key Group on Rio+20 Follow-up, Press Release United Nations Division for Sustainable Development, retrieved 26 February 2013.
  2. ^ The Future We Want, Outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, retrieved 26 February 2013.
  3. ^ New open working group to propose sustainable development goals for action by general assembly’s sixty-eighth session, Press Release United Nations, retrieved 26 February 2013.
  4. ^ The Future We Want, Outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, retrieved 26 February 2013.

External links[edit]