MDGs to SDGs: Have we lost the plot?
In September this year, world leaders will meet in New York at the United Nations General Assembly. Top of the agenda will be the passage of a resolution laying out global development goals for the fifteen years to 2030, covering progress in areas from poverty reduction to forestry preservation. They will follow on from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have become a common yardstick of global progress over the past decade and a half. The MDGs, born out of the Millennium Declaration agreed to at the UN General Assembly in 2000, are widely seen as a considerable success of the international system. And they may well have played a role in speeding global progress toward better health and education outcomes over the last few years. That alone might justify coming up with a new set of global goals for the post-2015 period. But the power of the original MDGs to motivate was in their simplicity and clarity. Sadly, the process that has created proposals for the new set of goals has guaranteed the opposite outcome. The over wrought and obese drafts proposed by negotiating committees so far almost ensure that the post-2015 goals will have comparatively limited value and impact. While it is probably too late for the process to be rescued, particular post-2015 goals and targets might still be useful, and the broader hopes for sustainable development may well be salvaged by other UN meetings this year.