Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015 a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) replaced the Millennium Development Goals. This follows a two year process of global consultations and intergovernmental negotiations. The framework brings together the three aspects of sustainable development – the economic, environmental and social - and consists of 17 goals and 169 targets that will apply to all countries, with a deadline of 2030 to be met.

Girls working on laptop computer

Read the full set of goals and targets

What about indicators?

Indicators for the goals and targets are still to be agreed. The Independent-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) has already begun a consultation on the indicator framework. Further timings for agreement are currently as follows:

  • 26-28 October – IAEG-SDGs meeting in Bangkok
  • December 2015 - The launch of an indicators report for consultation
  • March 2016 – Formal agreement and launch of indicators

At the last meeting of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in June/July 2015 it was agreed that reviews of progress should be universal and led by individual countries. The overall process of national reviews and thematic progress will be led by the HLPF and start from 2016.

SDGs vs MDGs – what's new?

There are significant differences between the MDGs and SDGs, including:

  • The SDG framework has brought all three aspects of sustainable development – the economic, social and environmental – in a much more integrated way than the MDGs ever did.
  • There were only eight MDG goals and while some have argued that this made them more achievable, others have argued that the process that resulted in the SDGs was a much more transparent and open process with a lot more consensus on the framework that was ultimately created.
  • The SDGs apply to all countries, rich and poor alike.
  • The world has changed significantly since the MDGs were created in 2000. Notions of developed and developing have changed, international development is less about the transfer of aid from rich to poor countries and more about progressive change for everyone, everywhere, rising powers such as China, Brazil and India are becoming increasingly influential and have established a New Development Bank, technology has advanced significantly and the world is a much more interconnected places with challenges and opportunities experienced globally as well as locally.

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