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.

Read the last MDG progress report (pdf)

Further information and analysis of the SDGs is available from the STEPS Centre

HEART (Health and Education Advice and Resource Team)

HEART is a consortium of leading organisations in international development, health, nutrition and education. IDS works together with these organisations to support the use of evidence and expert advice in policymaking. More details

Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index - HANCI

HANCI measures and ranks governments’ political commitment to reduce hunger and undernutrition on an annual basis. More details

International Centre for Tax and Development

This 5 year research consortium aims to build a stronger evidence base for those seeking to develop more effective and legitimate institutions that deliver improved outcomes for poor people. More details

International Climate Fund: Enhancing Capacity to Deliver on Gender

A partnership between Coffey, IDS and RICARDO AEA has been formed to improve mainstreaming and targeting of women and girls in the International Climate Fund. More details

Millennium Villages in Northern Ghana Impact Evaluation

This project is a ten year independent impact evaluation of the Millennium Villages in Northern Ghana. The IE is being delivered by IDS, ITAD and PDA Ghana. More details

Participate: Knowledge from the margins for post-2015

Ensuring that the most vulnerable and marginalised communities have the opportunity to shape post-2015 policymaking More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre

The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development. More details

Water Justice Programme

The Water Justice Programme critically examines the politics and pathways of water and sanitation policy and practice through interdisciplinary research on access, rights and control over these key resources More details

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How to Sustain Education for Sustainable Development?

29 Oct 2015
By Ricardo Santos, Sarah King

The Results Agenda: Friend or Foe?

19 Oct 2015
By Megan Driscoll

SDGs must fight poor nutrition that kills 3 million children each year

30 Sep 2015
By Dolf te Lintelo, Nicholas Nisbett

The private sector and the Sustainable Development Goals

24 Sep 2015
By Matteo Mancini, Maria del Mar Maestre Morales
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