Saturday, September 26, 2015

World Leaders Adopt Historic New Agenda On Sustainable Development
By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
Nigerian Guardian
September 26, 2015 2:26 am

With 2015 set as the target year for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a new agenda that will address the three interconnected elements of sustainable development: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability, has been adopted by more than 150 world leaders, including Nigeria’s President, Mohammadu Buhari.

The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was endorsed at the on-going United Nations Sustainable Development Summit yesterday holding from September 25-27 at UN Headquarters in New York.

The historic new agenda, entitled “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” was agreed upon by the 193 Member States of the United Nations, and includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The new agenda is people-centred, universal, transformative and integrated. It calls for action by all countries for all people over the next 15 years in five areas of critical importance: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. The agenda recognises that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with a plan that builds economic growth and addresses a range of social needs, while tackling climate change.

“We have a big, bold agenda before us – now we must work to make it real in people’s lives everywhere,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, ahead of the gaveling of a new agenda for sustainable development.

He added: “It is a roadmap to ending global poverty, building a life of dignity for all and leaving no one behind. It is also a clarion call to work in partnership and intensify efforts to share prosperity, empower people’s livelihoods, ensure peace and heal our planet for the benefit of this and future generations.”

The opening ceremony of the Summit started yesterday with the screening of film, “The Earth from Space,” followed by musical performances by UN Goodwill Ambassadors Shakira and Angelique Kidjo, as well as a call to action by Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai along with youth representatives as torch bearers to a sustainable future.

Opening remarks was delivered by President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and civil society representative Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary-General. The Sustainable Development Agenda will then officially be adopted by world leaders.

A private sector forum, hosted by Ban Ki-moon will take place today (September 26), and focus on the role of the private sector in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. A civil society high-level event will focus on building political will for the implementation of the Summit’s outcome.

A Solutions Summit, will take place tomorrow at the UN Headquarters, and mark the beginning of a longer-term grassroots effort to highlight exceptional innovators – technologists, engineers, and scientists – who are developing solutions that address one or more of the 17 SDGs.

The MDGs have proven that goal-setting can lift millions out of poverty. However, with 17 new SDGs that universally apply to all, countries can go further to end all forms of poverty and ensure no one is left behind.

Since the 1992 UN Conference on Environmental and Development – the Earth Summit – in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the world has identified a new pathway to human well-being, that of sustainable development. The concept of sustainable development, presented in Agenda 21, recognised that economic development must be balanced with growth that meets present generations’ needs and protects the environment, without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Recognising the success of the MDGs, countries agreed in “The Future We Want,” the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012, to establish an open working group to develop a set of sustainable development goals for consideration and appropriate action.

The SDGs, proposed by the Open Working Group, are the result of a three-year-long transparent, participatory process inclusive of all stakeholders and people’s voices. Many stakeholders, especially youth, were also involved from the beginning on social media and other platforms, including the UN’s global MyWorld survey that received more than eight million votes from around the world, with approximately 75 per cent of participants under 30 years of age.

Having received world-wide support from civil society, business, parliamentarians and other actors, the SDGs represent an unprecedented agreement around sustainable development priorities among 193 Member States. With the shared global goals and targets, countries will tailor them and implement policies at the country level.

The 17 SDGs and 169 targets of the new agenda will be monitored and reviewed using a set of global indicators. The global indicator framework, to be developed by the Inter Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators, will be agreed on by the UN Statistical Commission by March 2016. Governments will also develop their own national indicators to assist in monitoring progress made on the goals and targets.

The follow-up and review process will be undertaken on an annual basis by the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development through a SDG Progress Report to be prepared by the Secretary-General.

The sustainable development agenda builds on the successful outcome of the Conference on Financing for Development that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July this year. It is expected that it will also positively influence the negotiations towards a new, meaningful and universal agreement on climate change in Paris this December.

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