From MDGs to Sustainable Development For All: Lessons from 15 Years of Practice

15 Nov 2016
From MDGs to Sustainable Development For All

In 2015, world leaders set out to defy the odds, committing themselves to achieve 17 ambitious and far-reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. This was not the first time the world had attempted to raise the trajectory of human progress by employing Global Goals. In 2000, world leaders blazed a trail by adopting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were the first attempt to use Global Goals to capture and advance the shared interest we all have, in a more just, peaceful and prosperous world.

This Report offers lessons from the MDG experience, distilled largely by governments and stakeholders themselves, via National MDG Reports produced from 2013 to 2015. Over 50 countries’ National MDG Reports reflected on the totality of their MDG experience. This Report draws on their conclusions as well as the breadth and depth of UNDP’s own experiences supporting the MDGs in over 140 countries. Its findings suggest that the specifics matter. The MDGs had more impact when they were brought into popular discourse and when local leaders and change agents considered them less a rigid framework and more of an opportunity to:

  • Motivate popular engagement;
  • Build consensus on national priorities;
  • Generate international support;
  • Improve coordination within and between governments;
  • Make the needs and contributions of particular groups visible; and/or
  • Boost transparency and hold leaders to account.

Some were more effective than others at leveraging the visibility and legitimacy of Global Goals. The Report analyzes what worked under the MDGs and why. It ends with 10 concrete recommendations for SDG implementation, suggesting the policies, processes and practices that may help local leaders, change agents and stakeholders maximize the impact of Global Goals. 

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