Our Perspectives

From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals


childrenThe UN has led consultations on a new development agenda that takes voices from all its member states into consideration. (Photo: UNDP Thailand)

The world has undergone significant change since the launching of the Millennium Declaration – a declaration capable of galvanizing political will and enabling agreement on the international development agenda as defined by eight objectives. The time has now come to examine and renew true political commitments.

As part of this process, the UN has led reflection and debate to define a new agenda for the “Future We Want for All"  initiative based on two guiding principles: to accelerate and fulfill of the Millennium Declaration’s tasks, and also to incorporate the new challenges posed by our unique and complex world based on lessons learnt during the past 14 years.

What role can the international community play within this context? Finish what has been started. If we take stock of what has happened during these 14 years, much progress has been made, particularly in reducing extreme poverty, creating universal access to primary education, fighting malaria and improving access to drinking water.

As various UN reports have highlighted, several countries have made significant strides forward on the MDGs, and some of the most important successes in recent years have occurred in the poorest countries.

However, new challenges appear on the horizon. We need a new agenda for a different and interdependent world, the poles of influence of which have increased. The new agenda has to be developed by all, given that one of the main criticisms of the Millennium agenda was that it was devised by a minority to be implemented for the majority.

The new agenda has to be universal, reflecting the nature of both the post-2015 development agenda and the Rio +20 final document – a document stating that "the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be ( ... ) global and universal in nature and applicable to all countries, whilst taking into account the different realities, skills and levels of development of each country and safeguarding national policies and priorities."

As part of this process, the UN will continue to lead consultations that facilitate faster progress in drafting a new development agenda while continuing to provide technical support to member states.

Nevertheless, the time has come to make political decisions. The ball is now in the court of governments responsible for drafting the agenda. They will devise this agenda through the SDG group and the high-level forum, and it will be approved in September 2015 under the leadership of the UN Secretary-General just as the time frame for achieving the MDGs comes to an end.

The time has come to seek greater coherence, loftier ideals and greater political will.

UNDP Around the world