Olav Kjorven is the Special Advisor to the UNDP Administrator on the Post-2015 Development Agenda
Follow him on Twitter: @olavkjorven
24 Feb 2014
Within the next fifteen or twenty years we could live in a world where everyone has enough food, access to basic health services, schooling and jobs.
That’s a different world from the one we inhabit today, but I’m optimistic, because a new emerging vision is galvanizing support from governments, business and civil society.
My optimism comes from following the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG). The 70 governments in the group held in-depth discussions on how we can transform our economies, societies and environment into a more sustainable system.
There is a common understanding between the governments that ambitious targets on providing access to food, education, jobs, health, energy, water and sanitation will be included in the next development goals. There is strong agreement that we need targets to reverse environmental degradation and protect the eco-systems. There is commitment to building just societies for women and girls, and to reverse the trend of rising income inequality. There is also agreement that this agenda needs to be for all countries, North and South.
Another reason for optimism is that during each of the sessions of the OWG, the Member States have engaged with world-class experts, civil society and the private sector. This trend toward openness and participation has been complemented by our “global conversation” which engaged almost two million people and experts.
The third reason for optimism comes from the fact that we are not starting from scratch: we’re building on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which guided policy making, resource mobilization, and implementation of projects across the world for more than a decade. Once a new agenda is agreed, we know how to hit the ground running.
The road ahead will be bumpy though. Discussions around how to include and measure governance, conflict prevention, peace building, and climate change in the goals will be challenging. And so will the debate about financing.
But there is a growing realization that not having any sustainable development agenda will be the most expensive option of all.
The next phase of discussions in the OWG will be critical, from March through July. I may be slightly more optimistic than some others, and now you know why. I hope it spreads. That is how great things become possible.