Sustainable Development Goals

In an irreversibly interconnected world, the challenges faced by any become the challenges faced by each of us – sometimes gradually, but often suddenly. However, facing these vexing challenges is not simply a burden, it is, far more, an opportunity to forge new partnerships and alliances that can work together to advance the human condition. — Ban Ki-Moon, The road to dignity by 2030

This year is going to be very excit­ing. The Unit­ed Nations (mean­ing all of us) will go around the table to deter­mine devel­op­ment goals. Do you remem­ber the Mil­len­ni­um Devel­op­ment Goals? The logos will prob­a­bly ring a bell. For years, this has been the frame­work of devel­op­ment work. But a goal always comes with a dead­line, and that date is where we are now. It is 2015, and the bal­ance is drawn up: How did we score and what new goals can we for­mu­late?

Millennium Development Goals

Mil­len­ni­um Devel­op­ment Goals

The lat­est report is not entire­ly pos­i­tive. Per­haps that was to be expect­ed, since the first goal is “Erad­i­cat­ing extreme pover­ty and hunger.” Pover­ty rates are halved, and there has been progress on the oth­er goals as well. But the results are uneven­ly dis­trib­uted across the world. In 2010, a third of the extreme­ly poor peo­ple lived in India. One third! The over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of poor peo­ple live in South Asia and Sub-Saha­ran Africa.

Seen against these fig­ures, the MDGs may come across as too opti­mistic and sim­plis­tic. How­ev­er, draw­ing up such large-scale tar­gets is in fact inevitable. It stems from the real­iza­tion that our soci­ety, our human fam­i­ly, is irrev­o­ca­bly con­nect­ed through of the glob­al econ­o­my, migra­tion, the Inter­net, etcetera. Fur­ther­more, we live on the same plan­et and we suf­fer from each other’s envi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion. Think­ing about goals is a way to get peo­ple togeth­er. Gov­ern­ments, indus­try, aca­d­e­mics, and for the first time on this scale also the ‘ordi­nary’ peo­ple. An out­come of this is the reportA mil­lion voic­es: The world we want.

A million voicesWhat makes this year so spe­cial is that this process will be com­plet­ed in Sep­tem­ber. There will be new goals then: The Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals. Ban Ki-moon kicked off the year with a pub­li­ca­tion. These are some themes that stood out for me:

Cli­mate change. The peo­ple who are most affect­ed by cli­mate change live in devel­op­ing coun­tries. Look at Malawi for instance, where there are now heavy floods after two years of drought. This is an issue where glob­al coop­er­a­tion is the only way for­ward.

Dig­ni­ty. Devel­op­ment is for every­one. A goal is achieved only when it is achieved for all groups in soci­ety. This means that there is no dis­crim­i­na­tion on things like gen­der, dis­abil­i­ty or eth­nic­i­ty.

Data rev­o­lu­tion. The pos­si­bil­i­ties to col­lect, analyse and present data are get­ting big­ger. This is already used a lot by devel­op­ment orga­ni­za­tions. If the data is open­ly acces­si­ble, it leads to greater trans­paren­cy and account­abil­i­ty on the progress of the goals.

The Open Work­ing Group pro­pos­al counts no less than 17 Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals. Cer­tain­ly enough to keep us busy for anoth­er 15 years!