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.

Related resources

Building Sustainable Inclusion: From Intersecting Inequalities to Accountable Relationships

This project focuses on the need to consider and address intersecting inequalities – the spatial, economic and identity-based drivers of poverty and inequality - if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be successful. More details

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 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

Participate: Participatory Monitoring and Accountability

The Participatory Monitoring and Accountability (PMA) programme marks a new phase of the Participate initiative. It aims to foster and support PMA learning processes that enable citizen participation for accountability to be embedded in development policy and practice. 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

View all Research Theme's publications

Use this search to display this theme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.


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PB141_FrontCover

How Do State–Business Relations Shape Sustainable Development?

IDS Policy Briefing 141 (2017)

The achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals will depend on the ways in which states and businesses engage with one another. While state–business interactions can take many forms, they inherently involve processes of negotiation through which actors in both camps pursue their own interests. More details

This is the cover to the book, 'Pathways to Sustainable Agriculture'

Pathways to Sustainable Agriculture

This free book highlights some of the major findings that have emerged over the last decade of the STEPS Centre’s research on sustainable agriculture. More details

NewDirections_brief

Reframing Gender Justice in an Unequal, Volatile World: IDS’ Directions for Future Research on Gender and Sexuality in Development

At a time of major changes in global politics and trends, and major shifts in international development following the establishment of the global Sustainable Development Goals in Agenda 2030, the Gender and Sexuality cluster at the Institute of Development Studies engaged in collaborative discussions and consultations over nine months with partner organisations, networks, external experts and policymakers. More details

NewDirections_report

Reframing Gender Justice in an Unequal, Volatile World: IDS’ Directions for Future Research on Gender and Sexuality in Development

We here aim to outline priority directions for future research on gender and sexuality in development, which are needed to advance our understanding of gender and sexuality in an increasingly unequal, polarised and volatile world. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Introduction: security in the vernacular and peacebuilding at the margins; rethinking violence reduction

Journal of Peacebuilding, Special Issue: Security in the Vernacular 5.2 (2017)
ER219_FrontCover

Equality, Security and Sustainability: In Search of Virtuous Circles

IDS Evidence Report 219 (2017)

Many people and institutions are conducting research on inequality, security, or environmental sustainability. Some are looking at two of these issues together. None, to our knowledge, are examining all three simultaneously, or looking in detail at the interactions between them. This matters. More details

IDS publications on international development research

El Acceso Universal a una Energía Asequible, Fiable, Sostenible y Moderna

El Objetivo de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS) número 7 compromete a la comunidad internacional a garantizar 'el acceso a la energía asequible, fiable, sostenible y moderna para todos'. More details

Typology_Report_Cover

A Typology of Market-based Approaches to Include the Most Marginalised

Grey Literature (2017)

In recent years there has been a surge of interest in the role that markets and the private sector play in development, and interest to understand how development actors may most effectively support ‘inclusive economies’. What is missing, however, is a systematic analysis of what it takes for market-based approaches to include the most marginalised e.g. those with disability. More details

PB128_FrontCover

Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind

IDS Policy Briefing 128 (2016)

Half of humanity now lives in urban areas, and a growing number of cities are leading the way in generating global GDP. However, cities have increasingly become key loci of violence over the last 50 years, which particularly affects the most marginalised. More details

ER215_FrontCover

State–Business Relations Beyond Growth: Bringing in Development

IDS Evidence Report 215 (2016)

The signatories of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have called on a wide range of businesses ‘to apply their creativity and innovation’ to address sustainable development challenges. Yet the role of business in contributing to development depends profoundly on its interaction with the state. This paper asks how states and businesses interact in different contexts to shape development outcomes. More details

ER212_FrontCover

‘Leave No One Behind’: The Post-2015 Universality Agenda and Youth Employment

IDS Evidence Report 212 (2016)

This report aims to present a clear road map for implementing the new universal agenda of the UN in terms of youth employment. It examines what this might mean for the global youth employment agenda, specifically focusing on a cross-cultural comparison of what young people are actually doing in terms of work and employment. More details

ER210_FrontCover

Violence and Violence Reduction Efforts in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Ivory Coast: Insights and Lessons towards Achieving SDG 16

IDS Evidence Report 210 (2016)

This report develops evidence-based insights into contextual dimensions of violence and practices on reducing violence, from multiple perspectives and at multiple levels of governance. More details

ER206_FrontCover

Gender, Sexuality and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Meta-Analysis of Mechanisms of Exclusion and Avenues for Inclusive Development

IDS Evidence Report 206 (2016)

Through its work, the Institute of Development Studies Sexuality, Poverty and Law programme provides new evidence-based knowledge and policy options support efforts to strengthen the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. More details

ER204_FrontCover

Integrating Sustainable Development: A Foresight Analysis of Interactions Among Competing Development Challenges

IDS Evidence Report 204 (2016)

This report documents explores the interactions among three key goals of international development policy and practice, namely reducing inequalities, accelerating sustainability and building secure and inclusive societies. More details

PB125_FrontCover

Achieving Diverse Development Goals: How can Different Goals be Pursued Together?

IDS Policy Briefing 125 (2016)

In 2015, the international community adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to focus development policy globally. The Goals range across diverse fields of public policy from industry, finance and agriculture to education, sanitation, social protection and environmental stewardship. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Politics of Sustainability and Development, Annual Review of Environment and Resources

Annual Review of Environment and Resources 41 (2016)

This review examines the relationships between politics, sustainability, and development. Following an overview of sustainability thinking across different traditions, the politics of resources and the influence of scarcity narratives on research, policy and practice are explored. More details

This is the cover to the book, 'Sustainable Sanitation for All'.

Sustainable Sanitation for All

Describing the landscape of sustainability of CLTS and sanitation with reference to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and through examples from Africa and Asia, the book captures a range of experiences and innovations from a broad range of institutions and actors within the WASH sector, and attempts to make recommendations and practical suggestions for policy and practice for practitioners, funders, policymakers and governments. More details

PB115_FrontCover

Rising Powers, Lowering Emissions?

IDS Policy Briefing 115 (2016)

The importance of ensuring that African countries can meet their rising energy needs in a low-carbon way that also benefits the poor, is widely accepted. The so-called ‘rising powers’, such as China, Brazil and India are already investing in energy infrastructure in Africa. More details

ER157_FrontCover

‘Who Cares’: Reflections on the International-level Advocacy Work of the Unpaid Care Work Programme (2012–2015)

IDS Evidence Report 157 (2015)

At the end of September 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be launched. Building on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were officially established in 2000, the SDGs will potentially have 17 goals – one of which was explicitly absent from the MDGs: the unpaid care work of women and girls. More details

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A fresh agenda for advancing women’s rights and gender equality

07 Mar 2017
By Sohela Nazneen, Cathérine Müller

Rethinking ‘adoption’ in African agriculture

02 Sep 2016
By Dominic Glover, Jim Sumberg

The G20 and Africa: China’s turn

02 Sep 2016
By Maddalena Procopio

Brazil in crisis! What is to be done?

12 Jul 2016
By James Allen

SDG 4 Education: Necessary ambition or misplaced folly?

11 May 2016
By Sarabe Chan, Chimwemwe Manyozo
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