Sustainable Development Goals for Globle Development

From 2000 to 2015, the international development agenda was centered on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which encompasses 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.

After completing the largest consultation in its history of UN, more than 150 world leaders are attending the UN Sustainable Development Summit at UN headquarters in New York from 25th to 27th September, 2015 to replace MGDs by formally adopting an ambitious new sustainable development agenda comprising 17 goals to achieve 3 extraordinary things for all the humanity during next 15 years. These include end extreme poverty, fight inequality & injustice and fix climate change. This momentous agenda will serve as the launch pad for action by the international community and by national governments to promote shared prosperity and well-being for the humanity over the next 15 years.

Now that when the targeted year for MGDs was about to complete it was need of the hour to recognize the success of the MGDs – and the fact that a new development agenda was needed beyond 2015 – countries agreed in 2012 at Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, to establish an open working group to develop a set of sustainable development goals. After more than a year of negotiations, the Open Working Group presented its recommendation for the 17 sustainable development goals. In early August 2015, the 193 member states of the United Nations reached consensus on the outcome document of the new agenda “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. Therefore, historic new Sustainable Development Agenda unanimously adopted by 193 UN Member Countries today on 25th September, 2015 in UN headquarters in New York.

There are 17 sustainable development goals with 169 targets in contrast to the 8 Millennium Development Goals with 21 targets. The complex challenges that exist in the world today demand that a wide range of issues is covered. It is, also, critical to address the root causes of the problems and not only of the symptoms.

The sustainable development goals are the result of a negotiation process that involved the 193 UN member states and also unprecedented participation of civil society and other stakeholders. This led to the representation of a wide range of interests and perspectives. On the other hand, the MDGs were produced by a group of experts behind closed doors.

The MDGs focused primarily on the social agenda particularly the poorest in developing countries, while the sustainable development goals will apply to the entire world, the rich and the poor.

The new global goals are more ambitious, and are meant to apply to every country, not just the developing world. Stated in broad terms, the goals are accompanied by 169 specific targets meant to advance the goals in concrete ways. Most are meant to be achieved by 2030, though some have shorter deadlines.

Pope Francis gave his backing to the new development agenda in an address to the UN General Assembly before the summit to adopt the 17-point plan opened, calling it “an important sign of hope” at a very troubled time in the Middle East and Africa. When General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft struck his gavel to approve the development road map, leaders and diplomats from the 193 UN member states stood and applauded loudly.

Then, the summit immediately turned to the real business of the three-day meeting — implementation of the goals, which is expected to cost $3.5 trillion to $5 trillion every year until 2030. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set the stage, saying the agenda “embodies the aspirations of people everywhere for lives of peace, security and dignity on a healthy planet.”

 The goals “are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success,” Ban said. 

The document, titled “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” not only outlines 17 broad goals but sets 169 specific targets. 

The non-binding goals succeed the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted by world leaders 15 years ago. Only one of those has been achieved: halving the number of people living in extreme poverty, due primarily to economic growth in China. At least one other is close — cutting in half the proportion of people without access to clean water — and there are still three months until the goals expire. 

The new goals include ensuring “healthy lives” and quality education for all, clean water, sanitation and reliable modern energy, as well as making cities safe, reducing inequality within and among countries, and promoting economic growth and good governance. 

Critics say they are too broad, lack accountability and will lead to disenchantment among those most in need of hope. Supporters say there is no choice but to go big in a world of expanding population, growing inequality, dwindling resources and the existential threat from global warming. 

They note that while the millennium goals were developed by then secretary-general Kofi Annan and his staff, the new goals are the result of years of negotiations by all 193 member states, which means they should all have a stake in their achievement. 

Sweden announced that a group of nine leaders from different regions will work to ensure implementation of the goals. It includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Liberia, South Africa, Tanzania and Tunisia and the prime ministers of Sweden and East Timor. 

Speaker after speaker pointed to the spread of extremist groups as barriers to development, perhaps none more eloquently than Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousefzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan in 2012 for campaigning for girls’ education. Standing in the assembly chamber’s balcony surrounded by 193 young people representing every country, Malala told the leaders: “The future generation is raising their voice.” Each teen held a lantern, which she said symbolized their hope that the new global goals will be achieved. Millions of children are suffering from “terrorism, displacement and denial of education,” Malala said, noting the heartbreaking photo of 3-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi lying drowned on a Turkish sea shore and the tearful parents of girls abducted from their school in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram. 

“Promise peace to all children in Pakistan, in India, in Syria and in every corner of the world,” Malala implored the leaders. “Promise that every child will have the right to safe, free and quality primary and secondary education,” she said. “Education is hope. Education is peace.” 

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said the international community has to deal with global challenges that hinder development — “especially terrorism” which isn’t confined to Arab nations but has spread worldwide. In pursuing development, he said, the Egyptian people are facing “the most dangerous extremist terrorist ideology.” Egypt has been fighting an insurgency by Sinai militants allied to the Islamic State group. At the same time, security forces have cracked down on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists since the military — then led by el-Sissi — ousted President Mohammed Morsi, a senior Brotherhood figure, in 2013 after massive protests against Morsi’s rule. Hundreds of Islamists have been killed and thousands arrested. El-Sissi also expressed concern that “the tools” to achieve the goals are insufficient, and stressed that richer nations have a responsibility to help poorer ones. 

Afghan leader Abdullah Abdullah, whose country is one of the world’s poorest, urged “political commitment and revitalized partnership” to achieve the goals. 

The head of Amnesty International used his speech to make an impassioned critique of mass surveillance, the arms trade, income inequality and human rights abuses. “You cannot launch these goals and in parallel deny a safe and legal route to refugees, a life with dignity,” Amnesty’s Salil Shetty added. 

Merkel told fellow leaders there is no quick solution to the migrant crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war, poverty and persecution flood into Europe and safe havens closer to home. 

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said eliminating poverty is the top priority in his country, which has the world’s largest number of people living in extreme poverty. Modi confirmed plans for a fivefold boost in renewable energy but added two years to the time frame, saying it will take seven years instead of five. 

As for finding the trillions needed to implement the goals, Kenya’s UN Ambassador Macharia Kamau has insisted it can be done. But Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said Thursday “we’d be doing very well to have anywhere near that amount of money available by 2030.” 

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