The Millennium Declaration, adopted during the Millennium Summit of the United Nations (UN) in
September 2000, stressed the need of a global agreement and cooperation towards developing
countries. The basic commitment agreed upon was to achieve the reduction of extreme poverty
and set out a deadline of 2015. This document was the basis for a later one that became known as
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), consisting of 8 goals, 21 targets and 43 indicators.
According to the MDGs Report 2014, several MDG targets have been met. Extreme poverty has
been reduced by half, there have been results in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis, 2.3
billion people have now access to improved drinking water, all developing regions achieved or
were close to achieving gender parity in primary education by 2012, women’s political
participation has been constantly increasing and official development assistance (ODA)
rebounded as well as developing countries’ debt burden remained low1. Despite the
achievements of the MDGs, there are still targets and areas where more work needs to be done to
be able to reach the goals, including environmental sustainability, world hunger, undernutrition,
child and maternal mortality and sanitation.
In 2010, at the High Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly (GA) with Resolution 65/12 it was
agreed that the process of determining the post-2015 development agenda had to be accelerated
but that the process should also be inclusive, involving civil society, private sector, academia and
research institutions, to avoid inconvenients and criticism received from the MDGs process.
The first formal debate took place at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio
(Rio+20). In this occasion, through “The Future We Want” outcome document, attending members
agreed to work towards the establishment of “
communicate goals […]” sustainable development goals (SDGs) to replace the expiring MDGs3, that
should follow specific guidelines set up in the document.
With this background, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon took several initiatives. First, he
appointed Amina J. Mohammed from Nigeria as his own Special Adviser on Post-2015
Development Planning4. Second, in July 2012, he launched the High Level Panel of Eminent
Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP), who submitted a report a year later stating
that the new agenda should be grounded on the MDGs, on finishing that job and be centred on
the eradication of extreme poverty and sustainable development5. Third, he created the UN
System Task Team that brings together more than 60 UN entities, agencies and international
organisations, to support system-wide preparations for the post-2015 UN development agenda6,
by “providing analytical thinking and substantial inputs”7. Fourth, in order include the civil society’s
point of view, the UN included three different types of consultations in the process: national
consultation process in 88 countries of the ‘global south’, multi-stake holder consultations in
‘developed’ countries, and, 11 thematic consultations8. Finally, an Open Working Group (OWG)
with 30 members was established on January 22nd, 2013 by the UN General Assembly (GA) to
prepare a proposal on the SDGs to be presented and considered at the 68th GA Session9.
All the aforementioned initiatives and reports have been contributing to the determination of the
post-2015 development agenda. But the one that should be considered the most important is the
OWG for their specific proposal presented in the Outcome Document on July 19th, 2014. This
proposal comprised seventeen sustainable development goals and a total of a hundred and sixty-
nine targets10. These set of goals are in the process of being discussed and debated, in order to
narrow them down for the September meeting, so that world leaders can determine which ones
will be part of the development agenda for 2030.
Furthermore, It is worth noting that civil society and academia have been working on different
voluntary initiatives to contribute in the determination of the new development agenda. The
financial structure of the 2030 agenda must be taken into account, as mobilisation of resources
will be pivotal for the achievement of the SDGs. Another relevant issue is domestic development
of national level plans, which will be adapted to the different realities, but the UN must come up
with an appropriate guideline and measuring mechanism. All of these, and the goals will be
determined in the near future, and a constant follow-up will be required.
*Originally published on futureforeignpolicy.com