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In the coming months in New York, United Nations Member States are expected to agree on a
new development agenda which will replace that of the MDGs. It is shaping up to be an
ambitious and transformational development agenda, which would be universal in nature, cover
all three dimensions of sustainable development, and aim to address the many interlinked
challenges our world is facing. The agenda is relevant to countries at all stages of development.
The SDG agenda will be reinforced by the outcomes of other major global development-related
processes this year. Implementation of the outcomes of the Third UN World Conference on DRR
in Japan three months ago, of next month’s Third International Conference on Financing for
Development in Addis Ababa, and of climate change COP21 in Paris in December will all have a
major bearing on whether the SDGs can be achieved.
Without doubt, there has been tremendous development progress in the time span covered by the
MDGs and their targets. Between 1990 and 2010, for example, extreme income poverty halved,
and the likelihood of a child dying before their fifth birthday was nearly halved. Now most
children in developing countries are enrolled in primary schooling for at least some time.
Maternal death rates are down, although not nearly enough, and significant progress has been
made on combatting HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. The goal set for access to improved water
sources has been met.
Yet there is much unfinished business from the MDGs. Poverty and hunger are yet to be
eradicated, and inequalities are increasing in many countries. As well, the global environmental
challenges are mounting. That is particularly evident with climate change. Its impacts threaten
development achievements in all countries, and especially in the poorest and most vulnerable.
2. SDGs: what’s new
• The new global agenda must take on these challenges. The alternative is to face a world
characterized by even more turmoil and instability. The time to act is now. Exclusion is
fuelling the use of sectarianism and violence. The burden of complex humanitarian
emergencies occasioned by conflict or by natural disasters is weighing heavily on peoples on
the frontlines of these events, and on international relief budgets.
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• In the current set of proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before UN member
states, there are goals and targets which relate to economic growth, infrastructure, energy,
and strengthening capacities to trade and attract investment. The agenda also tackles the
MDGs’ unfinished business, and the challenges of environmental degradation and of rapid
urbanisation. It prioritises tackling inequalities – indeed the importance of leaving no one
behind is a defining feature of the new agenda.
• In pursuing this new post2015 agenda, there is a clear demand to make operational the
issues that were stated in the Millennium Declaration but not made measurable in the
MDGs. There is a strong recognition of the need to address governance concerns and
increase accountability if goals are to be achieved sustainably. For the first time explicitly,
the proposed new global development agenda affirms that development requires peaceful and
inclusive societies, justice for all, and effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all
levels (Goal 16).
• Leave no one behind: Reaching everyone : a radical commitment to equality and non-
• Universal agenda: Norms and principles are relevant to all nations, irrespective of
economic, social or environmental contexts, so the goals will apply to all countries. But
global goals don’t easily translate to national contexts because of different, starting points,
capacities, priorities etc.
While the overall prevalence of poverty is in retreat, the global poverty landscape is changing.
This transformation is captured by two distinct trends: poor people are increasingly found in
middle-income countries and in fragile states. Both trends – and their intersection – present
important new questions for how the international community tackles global poverty reduction.
3. POWERPOINT SHOWING the 17 SDGS
4. UNDG/DP support to the implementation of the SDGs
As proposed by UNDP, the United Nations Development Group – under the Sustainable
Development Working Group– has committed to developing a strategy for effective and coherent
implementation support of the future development agenda, under the acronym ‘MAPS’, paying
special attention to the cross-cutting elements of partnerships, data and accountability.
• MAPS stands for Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support. Let me elaborate on these
three main elements of the MAPS strategy:
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o Mainstreaming: With this proposal, our intention is to help governments land the
agenda at national and local levels; and ultimately to mainstream the agenda into their
national plans, strategies and budgets. This means helping to sensitize national
stakeholders – government departments, civil society, parliamentarians, the media, and
business – about what the new agenda means. Then it means mapping what a country is
already doing, and where it may need to change direction to meet the goals.
then also provide information on how United Nations Development Assistance
Frameworks can be crafted that support implementation of those national plans.
o Acceleration: Our intention is also to help governments accelerate progress, by
providing tools that will help them identify critical constraints to faster progress across a
number of goals.
- To date, UNDP has helped galvanize the UN development system around a common
tool for accelerating progress on the MDGs, which is called the MDG Acceleration
Framework or MAF. Since 2010, we have worked across the UN system and with the
World Bank and supported 60 acceleration action plans. Countries have used the
MAF to design and implement nationally owned MDG action plans in the areas of
maternal health, hunger, poverty, water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS and others, at both
national and sub-national levels. Several countries have gone beyond the traditional
set of MDGs, applying the framework to address economic disparities, education
quality, energy access and non-communicable diseases.
- We will build on our work on the MAF and develop tools to assist countries in
identifying root bottlenecks that if unlocked can accelerate progress across a number
of SDGs at the same time. Once again, our intention would be for this tool to be used
across the whole UN development system and in collaboration with the World Bank.
o Policy Support: UNDG members will seek to provide coordinated and pooled policy
support to countries that demand it – whether that policy support be required for better
livelihoods, gender equality, justice and security, inclusive decision-making, social
protection, biodiversity, or on adapting to climate change. Our intention is to have multi-
agency and multi-disciplinary teams that are able to offer surge support to countries on
specific issues, while helping countries strengthen institutional capacities.
• Beyond these three dimensions, the UNDG’s Sustainable Development Working Group will
provide enabling support on partnerships, accountability, and data (PAD):
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o Partnership development: The post-2015 development agenda process has opened up
new spaces for civic engagement, including by the UN system, as well as engagement
with business and Foundations. The UNDG will channel additional support for national
level partnership development activities, including for parliaments, NGOs, faith-based
groups, business and the media. The next phase of the UN Millennium Campaign will
contribute significantly to these efforts.
o Accountability: The UNDG will support countries to establish monitoring and review
frameworks so that they can report on their progress and engage with their national
o Data: The UNDG will also help to strengthen national capacities to collect and analyze
information to monitor progress on the SDGs, contributing to the data revolution.
5. Means of Implementation
The new development agenda will remain mere words on paper unless it can be implemented. A
strong package on “means of implementation” will be critical. Capacities need to be
strengthened. Renewed global partnerships for development are needed. And, while money isn’t
everything, access to finance is vital.
Thus, the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa next month needs an outcome
which is as bold and ambitious as the new sustainable development agenda promises to be.
It will be critical for the advanced economies to recommit to meeting the international target of
0.7 per cent of their GNI for ODA.
ODA should be smart aid in supporting the building of national capacities for inclusive and
sustainable growth, for domestic resource mobilization from that growth, and for the attraction of
quality loans and investment. The Addis Ababa Conference is also an opportunity for concrete
commitments to be made on combating the tax evasion and avoidance and illicit financial flows
which constrain efforts to raise domestic resources.
Indeed, there is much more international policy coherence needed across areas like trade,
taxation, and migration. Developing countries also need readier access to the technologies
which will enable them to make breakthroughs on sustainability.
6. Role of NGOs in the implementation of the Post-2015 agenda
• Civil society is integral in helping Governments find innovative solutions to complex
developmental problems while oftentimes providing necessary public services. A vibrant
civil society also ensures that the voices of the vulnerable and marginalised are meaningfully
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included in the development initiatives that will affect their aspirations and well-being. But in
order to undertake this role, civil society must be free to operate.
• NGOs can play a key role in promoting sustainable development through their well-
established and diverse experience, expertise and capacity, especially in the area of analysis,
sharing of information and knowledge, promotion of dialogue and support of implementation
of sustainable development.
• Civil society plays important advocacy and mediation roles in policy development through:
identifying the most critical development priorities, suggesting practical solutions and policy
opportunities, and critiquing impractical or problematic policies. The expertise of local civil
society can be more grounded in national circumstances than the expertise of international
• NGOs play a vital role in the shaping and implementation of participatory democracy.
Their credibility lies in the responsible and constructive role they play in society. Formal and
informal organizations, as well as grass-roots movements, should be recognized as partners
in the implementation of Agenda.
• Civil society organizations can also play a critical role in collecting data on the most
vulnerable or marginalised populations groups, often excluded from traditional statistical
surveys conducted by national statistical offices.
• The nature of the independent role played by non-governmental organizations within a
society calls for real participation; therefore, independence is a major attribute of non-
governmental organizations and is the precondition of real participation.
• Public participation in development and accountability will remain elusive without an active
civil society of empowered women and men, young and old, who can exercise their
rights in an enabling, supportive environment.