SDGs process: Where are we?

Diana Guevara Duque

The Post-2015 Agenda: Looking beyond the Millennium Development Goals via United Nations

The Post-2015 Agenda: Looking beyond the Millennium Development Goals via United Nations


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 low[1]. 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 65/1[2] it was agreed that the process of determining the post-2015 development agenda had to be accelerated.This 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 “[…] a set of action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate goals […]” sustainable development goals (SDGs) to replace the expiring MDGs[3], 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 Planning[4]. 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 development[5]. 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 agenda[6], 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 consultations[8]. 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 Session[9].

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 targets[10]. 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.

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, initiatives that must influence the final decision. Additionally, 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 appropriate guidelines and measuring mechanisms. All of these, and the goals will be determined in the near future, and a constant follow-up will be required.


[1] United Nations. “The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014”. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 06 April 2015]

[2] United Nations. General Assembly. “Resolution adoted by the General Assembly on 22 September 2010”. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 07 April 2015]

[3] United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. “The Future We Want”. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 06 April 2015]

[4] UN Department of Public Information. News and Media Division. “Secretary General Appoints Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria as Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning”. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 07 April 2014].

[5] UN. “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate poverty and transform economies through sustainable development. The Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda”. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 07 April 2015]

[6] UN. “Development Policy and Analysis Division. Preparing for the Development

Agenda beyond 2015”. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 07 April 2015].

[7] UN. “Development Policy and Analysis Division. Process Overview”. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 07 April 2015]

[8] World We Want 2015. “A Million Voices: The World We Want, A

Sustainable Future with Dignity For All”. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 07 April 2015]

[9] Sustainable Development UN. Press Release: “UN General Assembly creates Key Group on Rio+20 Follow-up. Group to work on design of new sustainable development goals”. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 06 April 2015]

[10] Sustainable Development UN. “Outcome Document”. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 12 April 2015]

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