What will the world look like in 2030? UN Assembly adopts Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations summit, aimed at adopting the development agenda for the next fifteen years, closed its doors on Sunday. As part of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), the meeting held in New York from Friday 25th and Sunday 27th of September, gathered together around 150 heads of state and government to discuss and definitively approve the set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will replace the Millennium Development Goals due to expire at the end of this year. Major experts in the field and NGOs’ representatives as well as a number of VIP and celebrities also attended the summit showing their support to the cause and participating to the wide number of events taking place in parallel with the summit.

At the opening plenary on Friday morning, performances by singers Shakira and Angelique Kidjo have been followed by speeches of personalities the likes of Pope Francis, the 2014 Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who reminded government representatives the importance of their task in New York for the eradication of poverty, hunger and inequalities as well as the promotion of education, health and environment.

At 11:46 am EST the Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen, acting as co-chair of the session, gaveled the adoption of the document “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” leading participants to rise in a standing ovation, cheering and waving flags.

The contents of the new agenda are not new. It is composed by 169 targets grouped into 17 goals, belonging to 6 essential areas: i) Dignity: to end poverty and fight inequality; ii) People: to ensure healthy lives, knowledge and the inclusion of women and children; iii) Prosperity: to grow a strong, inclusive and transformative economy; iv) Planet: to protect our ecosystems for all societies and our children; v) Justice: to promote safe and peaceful societies and strong institutions; vi) Partnership: to catalyse global solidarity for sustainable development.Sustainable Development Goals

Source: UN in collaboration with Project Everyone

Once approved the new SDGs, the debate quickly moved from the contents to means of implementation and, in particular, to tools for financing the new 2030 objective as the next step to accomplish this new global challenge. In the words of the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon “the true test of commitment to the new global goals will be implementation”.

Beyond noting progress and calling for additional efforts, including the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), the debate saw countries and institutions to announce their commitments to ensure implementation of the new development agenda.

Among the others, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, took the opportunity to renew the Fund’s commitment to increase by 50% concessional resources available to the poorest countries and intensify the support for fragile and conflict affected states. Also, the King of Spain, Don Felipe VI, expressed his country’s commitment to provide 0.7% of GDP by 2030 to developing countries, with an emphasis on the LDCs.

Noteworthy, China announced the a US$2 billion assistance fund for South-South cooperation to implement the SDGs, as well as increasing investment in LDCs to US$12 billion by 2030. More specifically, S$10 million will be donated to the UN Women for the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and related goals.

The meeting was then organized around six interactive dialogues on the following issues: Ending poverty and hunger; Tackling inequalities empowering women and girls and leaving no one behind; Fostering sustainable economic growth, transformation and promoting sustainable consumption and production; Delivering on a revitalised global partnership; Building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions to achieve sustainable development; Protecting our planet and combatting climate change.

In particular, Mali’s President pledged to allocate 15% of the national budget to end hunger in the country whereas the Prime Minister of Ethiopia said his country is ready to spend more than 70% of its budget on pro-poor areas such as education, health, and agriculture.

As for the fight to inequalities, the Netherlands announced new programmes to address inequalities and fund leadership opportunities for women and young people. Also, on September 26th, the Republic of Korea announced the Better Life for Girls Initiative, which will support vulnerable girls in developing countries with US$200 million dollars over the next five years.

The importance of robust accountability mechanisms and of monitoring progress in the implementation of the SDGs was remarked from several parts, with both public and private entities proposing their support to report advancements in achieving the new goals.

On the last day, with Brazil and Peru announcing their INGCs and Panama committing to restore 50% of its deforested areas in 20 years, the UN Summit clearly showed the importance of linkages between SDG 13 and an ambitious climate deal to be achieved in the next few months. Indeed, now that the development global goals Summit came to an end, all eyes are on the UNFCCC Paris climate Conference in November.

 Main source of the article is the IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin of the UN Summit.

(Top image: Wiew of the General Assembly Hall during the  speech of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, September 28, 2015. Photo Credit: United Nations Photo on Flickr)