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The UN Sustainable Development Goals

The UN has adopted 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that establish the framework for the global development efforts towards 2030.


With the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2015, world leaders took an important step towards a better and more sustainable future for all.

The 17 new SDGs replace the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but they also incorporate new and necessary global agendas. The SDGs are very ambitious and set a transformative development agenda. In addition to poverty reduction and social development, the SDGs also focus on economic and environmental development and include goals for peace and security. With the SDGs the UN member states have, among other things, committed themselves to ending hunger completely, ensuring education for all, securing health as well as promoting decent work and sustainable economic growth in all countries. The SDGs show what we must achieve by 2030.

Unlike the MDGs the SDGs are universal and apply to all countries and not only the developing countries. This means that Denmark also must work to reach the goals in Denmark.

Danish priorities
The new SDGs build upon an extensive global consultation process, where states, civil society organisations, the private sector as well as ordinary citizens have been involved. The negotiation process has been the most inclusive in UN history.

In the negotiations, Denmark especially focused on four priorities; 1) equality, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, 2) education, 3) peaceful societies, 4) sustainable inclusive growth, especially concerning water, energy, environment and climate. Furthermore, Denmark focused on synergy between the goals, to ensure that efforts within economic growth, combating poverty and environmental sustainability go hand in hand. The Danish priorities are well reflected in the SDGs.

Process and financing
The SDGs are ambitious, and it will require coordinated and extensive efforts as well as substantial resources to reach them by 2030. It is generally agreed that the SDGs cannot be reached with international development assistance alone. More resources are needed to finance the global efforts to achieve the SDGs.

In this respect the third Financing for Development conference was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2015. Here the 193 UN member states reached consensus on an ambitious plan for financing the SDGs. There was general consensus on the need to mobilize resources from additional and new sources, including mobilizing national resources from taxation and enhanced private investments in developing countries.

The SDG’s continue and build on the global efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  The MDGs were adopted at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 and set the path for international development cooperation towards 2015. Not all of the MDGs were achieved, but the targeted joint development efforts have resulted in critical progress: One billion people have been lifted out of poverty. More girls than ever go to school. More than 90% of the world’s population now has access to clean drinking water, and the mortality rate for children under the age of 5 has fallen with more than 50%. The MDGs have shown that it pays off to agree on concrete, measurable goals with deadlines that all development partners strive towards in their efforts. The good experience with the MDGs has thereby informed the drafting of the SDGs.

Read more about how the MDGs have contributed to poverty reduction and social development in developing countries in the UNs evaluation of the MDGs “The Millenium Development Goals Report 2015”.


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