A roadmap to an agreement on a new list of sustainable development targets to replace the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 was agreed at a summit in New York on 25 September.
The United Nations set the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be met by 2015. The goals are:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development
In 2008, governments, businesses and other organisations reinforced their commitments to meet the MDGs, raising some €12.3 million in new funds for development. Two years later, the MDG summit adopted a global action plan, again reinforcing the drive towards meeting the MDGs.
The roadmap is part of an ‘Outcomes’ document of the MDG review summit, and lays out how the world’s currently-distinct development targets and Rio+20 objectives should be merged into one unified set of sustainable development goals.
It charts the way to a UN summit in September 2015 that will sign off on the new global poverty eradication objectives to be achieved by 2030.
Andris Piebalgs, the EU’s top development official, welcomed the document as “highly beneficial”, in a joint statement with the his environment counterpart, Janez Potočnik. The commissioners said that the accompanying establishment of a High Level Political Forum would play a key role in fleshing out the future goals.
“Together we can do more and we must do more,” they said, noting that rates of poverty, maternal mortality and hunger were still too high. “We want to see every man, woman and child, no matter where they live in the world, enjoy a decent life by 2030.”
The European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, who has been trailed as a potential next secretary-general of the UN, told the New York summit that EU-funded development projects he had seen while traveling across Africa made him proud.
“The global community must act on two fronts,” he told the assembled heads of state. “First, we must finish what we started – We must keep pursuing all MDGs right to the end.”
After 2015, he said, “eradicating extreme poverty within one generation is possible”. But he added: “that also requires addressing the global sustainability challenge, building on the commitments made in Rio.”
The EU’s five ‘stepping stones’ to that objective are:
- Empowerment through education, basic healthcare, nutrition and access to clean water and energy
- Inclusive and sustainable growth
- Environmental sustainability
- Equity, good governance and human rights
- Peace and stability
The roadmap framework was welcomed by Beyond 2015, a group campaigning for global justice. A statement from the NGO called for targets to be included covering peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights.
“Governments need to start listening to the people and to raise the level of ambition in order to ensure that no-one is left behind,” said Beyond 2015 co-chair Neva Frecheville. “Civil society around the world will not accept a framework which does not deal with the structural causes of poverty and injustice.”
“The global community gets one chance for deep thought every twenty years,” she added, “and this is it”.
Gay Mitchell, an MEP for the centre-right EPP group said: “We need to set up a mechanism for stronger coordination of donors’ aid. It has been estimated that thanks to such a mechanism, billions of Euros could be dedicated to saving lives. Moreover, we need to look beyond financial mechanisms for development that are already in place and move towards the stronger involvement of the private sector. But the real challenge remains in mobilising national resources for development by developing countries themselves, as well as moving from transparency into accountability. We must also put proactive Disaster Risk Reduction at the centre of the sustainable development goals, as this will have a fourfold impact on humanitarian needs."
Luc Bas, EU office director of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, said: “Healthy and well-managed ecosystems and the biodiversity they encompass are central to achieving sustainable development and alleviating poverty. Investing in nature conservation, restoration and resilience provides sustainable and cost-effective solutions to climate change, food security and social and economic development. We encourage world leaders to put nature-based solutions at the heart of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.”
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