This picture, taken in the Swiss mountains on a lovely spring afternoon, shows how quickly change can happen: from rain to sun within minutes. It also demonstrates how much brighter and clearer the view becomes once change has happened. I believe that the world is on the right track to a brighter and clearer sustainable future.
The SDGs build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) defined in 2000 with a 2015 target date; they are often referred to as the post-2015 development agenda. In bringing a lot more stakeholders to the table and aiming to tackle a much larger number of development themes than the MDGs, the SDGs are also much more ambitious. One of the MDGs’ key strengths was that they focused on eight goals with a manageable number of sub-goals and targets. It currently looks like the SDGs will comprise 17 goals and 169 (!) targets.
In addition to the larger number of goals, the enhanced degree of participation and stakeholder consultation also adds complexity. Developing a system to measure progress on the SDGs will not be a mean feat. Financing too still has to be sorted out. A Financing for Development Conference in the summer will discuss the means of SDG implementation.
When considering the challenges ahead it is important not to lose sight of the fact that great and previously unthinkable progress has already been made through the MDG agenda. The latter got the world to focus on key development areas, communicating them widely and, most importantly, agreeing on common goals and transparent tracking of progress. Focusing on poverty, health, education, gender and other important aspects of human development, the MDG process was revolutionary at the time. While not all goals and targets have been achieved in all countries, solid progress has been made overall and the fact that most of the world’s governments came together and agreed to work towards the same set of goals, including through making their progress transparent, cannot be overstated enough.
Watch this space!