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UN Member States adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

By Shruti Chopra and Thomas Scarff


“We have reached a defining moment in human history. The people of the world have asked us to shine a light on a future of promise and opportunity. Member States have responded with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.[1]” - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

On the September 25, 2015 at the UN Sustainable Development Summit, the General Assembly, comprising 193 Members, unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which comprises of 17 goals and replaces and expands on the Millennium Development Goals (“MDGs”), which were adopted in 2000 and lapse on December 31, 2015. The Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) are a comprehensive new framework for tackling issues of human rights, health, human & natural environment, economic opportunity and employment, which go into effect on January 1, 2016.

While the SDGs retain the core characteristics of the MDGs being that the goals are clear, concise, time-bound and measurable, the goals are markedly more ambitious. Further, they are not limited by geography, applying to all 193 member states, and therefore extend beyond tackling the issues of the developing world. The SDGs however retain and reaffirm the commitment to issues such as poverty, hunger, gender inequality and universal access to education.



Further, the 17 goals and 169 specific targets are drafted in a way that help advance the goals in a concrete manner and serve as a guide and blueprint for achieving the objectives of the SDGs. They reflect an evolving understanding of the social, economic and environmental linkages that plague the global community today. While most goals are supposed to be achieved by 2030, some goals have shorter deadlines. These goals and specific targets are further going to be accompanied with indicators, both on global and national levels, which ensure proper and timely implementation of these goals. Financially, the implementation of the SDGs is expected to cost $3.5 trillion to $5 trillion every year until 2030.


With the SDGs ranging from calls to end poverty, reducing inequalities, promoting peace and nonviolence, and protection of the environment, it is essential for the entire global community to work together, in a cohesive manner, to make them a success. The involvement of all stakeholders including parliaments, local governments, non-government organizations, civil society and academia, during the process of adoption of the SDGs and in the ongoing drafting of global indicators, is a positive sign of coordinated effort from international society to help achieve meaningful change.

[1] Secretary-General's remarks at Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda available athttp://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=9015

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