Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a proposed set of targets relating to future international development. They are to replace the Millennium Development Goals once they expire at the end of 2015. The SDGs were first formally discussed at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 (Rio+20).
On 19 July 2014, the UN General Assembly's Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG) forwarded a proposal for the SDGs to the Assembly. The proposal contained 17 goals with 169 targets covering a broad range of sustainable development issues. These included ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests. On 4 December 2014, the UN General Assembly accepted the Secretary-General's Synthesis Report which stated that the agenda for the post-2015 SDG process would be based on the OWG proposals.
The current international 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.
The target date for the achievement of the MDGs is at the end of 2015. Discussion on the post 2015 framework for international development began well in advance. Formal debate concerning the SDGs first occurred at the 2012 United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro. The 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”.
As of March 2015, there were 17 proposed goals:
- End poverty in all its forms everywhere
- End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
- Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
- Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
- Reduce inequality within and among countries
- Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
- Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
- Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
As at March 2015, there were 169 proposed targets for these goals and 304 proposed indicators to show compliance.
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.
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”.
2014 International Symposium
The International Symposium on the Post 2015 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals scheduled for Sydney, Australia on the 12 and 13 November 2014 was cancelled. Matthew Tukaki, Chairman of Sustain Group announced that in the context of a $7.6 Billion cut in aid from the Australian budget, phased in over five years.
The specific details of the Sustainable Development Goals have not yet been finalised. Delegates from the different countries have expressed differing priorities about what the SDGs should achieve. To move towards agreement on the specifics, the United Nations have scheduled a conference for September 2015, to be held in New York.
World We Want 2015
The World We Want 2015 is a platform and joint venture currently being used to create a new global development framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals. It bases its work off of the priorities of the people closest to the problems and focuses on local development.
Paris climate deal and the SDGs
Nations and other parties negotiating at the UN have highlighted the links between the post-2015 SDG process, the Funding for Development process to be concluded in Addis Ababa in July and the COP 21 Climate Change conference in Paris in December. A recent analysis report concluded that only a high ambition climate deal in Paris in 2015 will enable countries to reach the sustainable development goals and targets. It also states that tackling climate change will only be possible if the SDGs are met; and that development and climate are inextricably linked, particularly around poverty, gender equality and energy. 
- Press release - UN General Assembly’s Open Working Group proposes sustainable development goals, 19. July 2014
- Synthesis report of the Secretary-General on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda
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- "Open Working Group proposal for Sustainable Development Goals". UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
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- 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.
- Tukaki, Matthew. "Cancellation of the International Symposium on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post 2015 Agenda: Announcement from the Chair, Matthew Tukaki". linkedin. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
- Ansuategi, A; Greño, P; Houlden, V et al. (May 2015). "The impact of climate change on the achievement of the post-2015 sustainable development goals" (PDF). CDKN & HR Wallingford. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
- What is Sustainable Development? Video by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
- Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
- United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network
- United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
- The Future We Want