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SDGs: Future of Development

2015 will mark the target year for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs,) a set of eight development objectives set by world leaders as a commitment to reduce extreme poverty worldwide. The current goals seek to:

The U.N. recently released the 2014 MDG Annual Report, in which it applauds progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, encourages continued effort for the initiative’s remaining year and lays the groundwork for a post-2015 development agenda. The new set of goals, referred to as the Sustainable Development Goals, ambitiously aims to “end poverty everywhere” by 2030. A zero draft was released on June 2, in which the Open Working Group laid out 17 post-2015 goals. Concerns have been raised over the length of the draft and the abstract nature of the objectives, which are listed as follows:

  • End poverty everywhere
  • End hunger, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Attain healthy lives for all
  • Provide quality education and life-long learning opportunities for all
  • Attain gender equality, empower women and girls everywhere
  • Ensure availability and sustainable use of water and sanitation for all
  • Ensure sustainable energy for all
  • Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Promote sustainable infrastructure and industrialization and foster innovation
  • Reduce inequality within and between countries
  • Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and sustainable
  • Promote sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Tackle climate change and its impacts
  • Conserve and promote sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources
  • Protect and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, halt desertification, land degradation and biodiversity loss
  • Achieve peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice for all and effective and capable institutions
  • Strengthen the means of implementation and the global partnership for sustainable development

One notable characteristic of the proposed list of SDGs is its emphasis on science and technology. The draft touches on issues of climate change, water sanitation, energy supply, biodiversity preservation and ocean conservation. Where the document falls short, according to voices in the scientific community, is in its implementation section, which fails to explicitly define the strengthening of science and technology in developing countries as a key focus. Yet, besides the arguments between scientific and political pundits, the trajectory of the SDG project is clear. As published in the SDG zero draft, “we recognize that poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are the overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development.” – Kayla Strickland Sources: United Nations 1, United Nations 2, SciDev.net 1, SciDev.net 2 Photo: Reegle