Consensus Reached on New Sustainable Development Agenda

News updates From PPD Permanent Observer to the UN, New York.
6 August. 2015

The 193 Member States of the United Nations reached a consensus on the outcome document that will constitute the new sustainable development agenda for the 2015-30 period. The Outcome document concluded a negotiating process that has spanned more than two years including an unprecedented participation of member countries, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society organizations. The outcome document featuring an ambitious agenda with 17 new sustainable development goals (SDGs), aims to end poverty by 2030, promote shared economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement and said it “encompasses a universal, transformative and integrated agenda that heralds an historic turning point for our world.  This is the people’s agenda, a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere and leaving no one behind.  It seeks to ensure peace and prosperity and forge partnerships with people and planet at the core.”

The Outcome Document of the new agenda will be formally adopted at the ‘Sustainable Development Summit’ to be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York between 25 to 27 September where more than 150 world leaders are expected to attend. The new agenda builds on the success of the Millennium Development Goals, which helped more than 700 million people escape poverty.  The new goals, and the broader sustainability agenda, go much further, addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people.  The preamble of the document underscores the collective commitment, “We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path.  As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.”

The Intergovernmental Process: At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012, Member States agreed to launch a process to develop a set of sustainable development goals that would build upon the Millennium Development Goals.  The Millennium Development Goals have proven that goal-setting can lift millions out of poverty, improve well-being and provide vast new opportunities for better lives.  It was agreed that the new goals would be global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities. The inclusive and transparent consultations by Member States, with the strong engagement of civil society and other stakeholders, have served as a basis for the conclusion of the intergovernmental negotiations on the emerging universal and people-centred agenda.

Core Elements of Outcome Document

The outcome document highlights poverty eradication as the overarching goal of the new development agenda and has at its core the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.  The emerging development agenda is unique in that it calls for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income.  Member States pledge that as they embark on this collective journey, no one will be left behind.  The “five Ps” — people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership — capture the broad scope of the agenda.

The 17 goals and 169 targets aim at tackling key systemic barriers to sustainable development such as inequality, unsustainable consumption and production patterns, inadequate infrastructure and lack of decent jobs.  The environmental dimension of sustainable development is covered in the goals on oceans and marine resources and on ecosystems and biodiversity, bringing core issues into the goal and target framework.

The means of implementation outlined in the outcome document match its ambitious goals and focus on finance, technology and capacity development.  In addition to a stand-alone goal on the means of implementation for the new agenda, specific means are tailored to each of the sustainable development goals.

Member States stressed that the desired transformations will require a departure from “business as usual” and that intensified international cooperation on many fronts will be required.  The agenda calls for a revitalized, global partnership for sustainable development, including for multi-stakeholder partnerships.  The agenda also calls for increased capacity-building and better data and statistics to measure sustainable development.

An effective follow-up and review architecture — a core element of the outcome document — will be critical to support the implementation of the new agenda.  The High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, set up after the Rio+20 Conference, will serve as the apex for follow-up and review and will thus play a central role.  The General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and specialized agencies will also be engaged in reviewing progress in specific areas.

Based on the outcome document, the agenda will include a Technology Facilitation Mechanism to support the new goals, based on multi-stakeholder collaboration between Member States, civil society, business, the scientific community and the United Nations system of agencies.  The Mechanism, which was agreed at the Addis Conference in July, will have an inter-agency task team, a forum on science, technology and innovation and an online platform for collaboration. The successful outcome of the Addis Conference gave important positive momentum to the last stretch of negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda.

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