sustainable development goals
Since 2000, the U.N. has strived to alleviate global poverty in the world through the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs. These eight goals are based on the recurring health and societal issues discussed at U.N. conferences throughout the 1990s that the U.N. hopes to achieve by the end of 2015. But with the Dec. 31, 2015 deadline quickly approaching, the U.N. is now focusing on how these goals can be developed into a new set of goals known as the Sustainable Development Goals to continue the progress seen in developing countries after 2015.

Over the past 14 years, some of the MDGs have been met, while others remain far from completion according to the U.N.’s 2013 fact sheets. Unfortunately, the success rates of these goals really vary depending on the specific region and country. Even though some MDGs have been more successful than others, the fact that some improvement has been achieved, no matter how small, proves that this type of plan can be effective, which is why the U.N. is currently considering new goals for the post-2015 time period.

Along with the name change of the list of goals, there are also several other significant differences between these two sets of goals. As discussed at the Rio+20 Conference, the Sustainable Development Goals look to not only revise the MDGs but also expand on them. According to the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, it is expected that a larger amount of global leaders will be involved in the implementation of these international goals so the specific concerns, needs and resources of each country will be considered.

While the original MDGs focused more on health issues, such as poverty, hunger, and societal issues like gender inequality and a lack of education, this new list of goals may prove to be more difficult to achieve. They involve challenging standards such as climate change and the job market. But like the MDGs, the SDGs still hold eradicating extreme poverty in a central role while also hoping to make significant impacts in the social, economic and environmental fields.

These Sustainable Development Goals are scheduled to be confirmed this September by the General Assembly in order to continue the progress made in developing countries and to one day see an end to these global health and societal issues.

 — Meghan Orner

Sources: United Nations Millennium GoalsSustainable Development Knowledge Platform,  Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
Photo: The Guardian