As countries ramp up their efforts to achieve the set of anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ahead of the 2015 deadline, a new United Nations forum seeks to spur them on as well as to help them create the foundation for new global sustainable development agenda.
“We are bracing for our final push to accomplish the Millennium Development Goals,” Martin Sajdik, the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said at the first meeting of the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development held under the Council's auspices.
The Forum will be an occasion to reflect on how far the world has advanced in shaping the post-2015 development agenda and the sustainable development goals (SDGs), as well as discuss how to chart the way forward.
“A strong forum means faster progress towards sustainable development goals,” said Mr. Sajdik, adding that it should accelerate the shift towards inclusive, equitable and prosperous societies without poverty and a better future for all.
The forum will bring together a diverse group of participants over the next 10 days, including ministerial-level and senior representatives from Governments, mayors; parliamentarians; UN officials; civil society groups, and key figures from the private sector and foundations.
“The forum can help to instil the concern for poverty eradication and sustainable development on this last leg of our journey to 2015,” stated Mr. Sajdik, who is Austria’s Permanent Representative to the UN. “But most of all it can draw conclusions from the implementation of the MDGs when further shaping its own role in the implementation and the review process of the SDGs.
“But, as we know, the key messages for these final one and a half years of MDG implementation will come from ECOSOC.”
Agreed by world leaders in 2000, the MDGs – covering a range of poverty, hunger, health, gender equality, education and environmental indicators – have been the most successful global anti-poverty push in history. Several targets have already been met, such as halving the number of people living in extreme poverty, and it is expected that more targets will be reached by the end of 2015.
Building on the successes of the MDGs, Member States are currently working on a post-2015 development agenda that will address any unfinished business of the MDGs and new challenges and complexities facing the world with sustainable development at its core and poverty eradication as its highest priority. They will meet at a summit in September 2015 to adopt the post-MDG agenda, including the sustainable development goals.
Mr. Sajdik said the current meeting should mark the start of the reflection on the broader post-2015 development agenda. “It might give us – with the presence of our political leaders and of top officials from our capitals – some time to pause and reflect on how far we have come in elaborating this agenda and whether we are on the right track.
“The forum can give some input for the future agenda now and set the stage for a robust platform after 2015. Expectations are high and we need to live up to the hopes and aspirations,” he added.
As it continues its first day of work under ECOSOC’s auspices, the Forum will hold moderated panel discussions on: “From Rio+20 to post-2015: towards an integrated and universal sustainable development agenda”; “Means of implementation for sustainable development”; “How could sustainable consumption and production contribute to SDGs?”; and a Dialogue with the Chair of the Board of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production.
Inaugurated in September 2013 under the auspices of the UN General Assembly, the Forum replaced the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), which was formed after the historic 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to generate action on a range of issues, including energy, oceans and sustainable consumption and production.
The Forum itself was conceived in answer to a call made by Member States in the ouctcome of the Earth Summit follow-up conference in 2012, known informally as “Rio+20”, and it is now the main UN platform dealing with sustainable development. It will meet every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the General Assembly, and every year under the auspices of ECOSOC.
The Rio+20 outcome, The Future We Want, also called for the Global Sustainable Development Report, in order to bring together dispersed information and existing assessments and to strengthen the science policy interface at the High-Level Political Forum. A “prototype” report will be introduced tomorrow when the Forum continues its work at Headquarters.