What are the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals?
Let’s first go back to the year 2000 when the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established and given a deadline of 2015.
The MDGs were created to help facilitate upward social mobility in low to middle-income countries through goals, such as: the lowering extreme poverty rates in half and establish a framework for universal primary education. The MDGs have helped to ensure that the world works together to create sustainable progress and a better future for all as we headed into the 21st Century. These Goals were able to successfully create a framework for joint international efforts in development at a high-level.
As 2000 began to approach, the Member States of the UN agreed that although the MDGs had been successful in streaming development goals for high-level policy makers, as well as private sector and institutional leaders, a lot of knowledge was being wasted by not accepting sufficient expert reports from grassroots organizations (such as local NGOs and other CSOs) who can help make development more efficient in their country or region of expertise.
Additionally, at the Rio +20 Summit (2012) (the UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Brazil among world leaders, thousands of government contributors, NGOs, and other stakeholders to discuss how to reduce poverty, improve social equity and ensure environmental protection), the international community agreed that given the MDGs’ approaching deadline, the world needed consider the negative effects of human activities and how we could avoid them by integrating the three pillars of sustainable development (social, economic and environmental concerns) into the heart of the post 2015 development agenda.
Following this Summit, the United Nations Member States therefore adopted an outcome document, calling for the creation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which would complement the MDGs and guide the world’s development agenda from 2015 to 2030.
What is the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals?
The Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG SDG) was set up under paragraph 248 of the Rio+20 outcome document,” with a view to developing global sustainable development goals to be agreed by the General Assembly”. The OWG SDG is the compilation of several groups of member states that are responsible for presenting their recommendations on their respective Focus Areas. Each committee has or will present their findings at one or more of the OWG SDG negotiation sessions (2013-2014) at the United Nations General Headquarters in New York. So far there have been nine OWG Sessions with three more to go; the final session will be in July.
After the final session, a team of experts will draft a resolution that will be voted on in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2014.
How Do We Finance Development and What Is the UN Body that Gives Recommendations for Financing It?
Next, it will up the role to the different sectors (Public, Private and CSO Sectors) that are capable of implementing sustainable development to accept the SDGs in their development projects. Then, it is time for the different sectors to agree on which initiatives each sector will pay for and who will be in charge of overseeing these initiatives and/or projects, respectively.
Our world has four basic sectors of development that can pay for and oversee development initiatives:
- Governments (Public Sector);
- Businesses (Private Sector);
- Donor Institutions (Donor Sector);
- Grassroot organizations (Civil Society Organizations).
Each sector has its own particular way of solving financial issues and its own ‘best’ way to finance and implement projects. Although the different sectors of development try their best to work together, these particularities have often led to tensions and issues in development partnerships among these sectors. Additionally, each development sector has its own particular opinion on why tensions and issues occur through development financing.
One of the Rio +20 Summit in 2012 goals was to create a body that would consult with financing institutions and experts in the field to improve the efficiency of resource utilization models.
To help facilitate the development sectors’ activities, the ICESDF- or the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for Sustainable Development Financing– will carry out its work by preparing a report proposing options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy. This report will help facilitate the mobilization of resources and their effective use in achieving sustainable development objectives.
Questions for the Reader
- What would you say are the most pressing development issues that your country faces?
- What would you want your country’s UN Representative to focus on the most?
- What particular goal would you like to see reflected in the final draft of the Sustainable Development Goals?