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2013 blogs

SDGs for a Small Planet

Mon, 2013-12-23 21:45
Simon Hoiberg Olsen

Senior Policy Researcher/Task Manager, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

Connecting the local with the global agenda on sustainable development goals is a perennial challenge, but a major report by a consortium of agencies* to be published early in 2014 has studied 14 Asian and European countries, and come up with a complete set of illustrative goals, subgoals, targets and indicators.

Figure 1: W ApproachTo get there, the study started off by taking what’s known as 'the W approach'. The 'W' symbolises a combined focus on global and national sustainable development priorities, and the report uses this focus to identify possible sustainable development (SDG) goals for the reviewed countries.

VIDEO: ODI's Jonathan Glennie on the three paradigm shifts needed post-2015

Thu, 2013-11-28 16:07
Jonathan Glennie

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

In this short video, the Overseas Development Institute's (ODI) Jonathan Glennie lays out the three paradigm shifts that need to be part of the post-2015 development agenda: sustainability, universality and equality.

This speech was originally made for Kepa's Development Policy Day. 

A proposed SDG framework applied to energy

Thu, 2013-11-21 15:58
Måns Nilsson

Research Director, Stockholm Environment Institute

The Open Working Group is meeting again this week to gather its thoughts on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In focus this time are infrastructure, trade, growth and energy. While there may not ultimately be a specific goal on each of these, the drafting process is gradually gathering pace.

Different groups have handed in any number of suggestions and wish lists, especially for energy goals, which have been neatly summarized into one document. The Herculean task facing the working group – to rank, reconcile and distil these submissions into a set of coherent and meaningful goals – will be virtually impossible without some sort of common framework or blueprint to work to. The question is, how should that framework look?

First principles

Small but packing a punch: SIDS in the global sustainable development debate

Thu, 2013-11-21 15:31
Nicole Leotaud

Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI)

New global sustainable development goals (SDGs) will need to address the special vulnerabilities and opportunities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) if they are to have any relevance for these fifty-two countries and territories. A recent report by SIDS lays out sustainable development priorities that must be effectively addressed in the post-2015 development agenda.

SIDS in the SDGs

SIDS priorities have much in common with the global SDGs being put forward on poverty eradication, equality and rights, education, health, food and water security, and sustainable energy.

The Sustainable Development Goals – are we asking the right questions?

Tue, 2013-10-29 01:05
James Murombedzi

Responsive Forest Governance Initiative Coordinator, CODESRIA

The agreement to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was perhaps one of the more significant outcomes of Rio+20. But the construction of the SDGs may already be running into the same challenges that the MDGs encountered, mainly the inability to challenge the structural and systemic causes of unsustainability.

The High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP) proposes five big transformative shifts and calls for SDGs that would drive these shifts. But a close examination of the shifts proposed—which are not located in history and do not address key political questions—reveals that they do not address the structural and systemic causes. But first, what is sustainable development?

Millennium Development Goals: What worked well and what should new Sustainable Development Goals do differently?

Fri, 2013-09-20 13:16

Ikuho Miyazawa and

Simon Hoiberg Olsen of IGES



What worked and what struggled when it comes to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)? And what lessons could help design future commitments, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? As representatives arrive in New York for the 68th UN General Assembly (17-September to 1 October), the Independent Research Forum-2015 looks back—and then forward.

MDGs worked as high level political commitments

Although not all targets may be fully achieved by 2015, the MDGs have been successful as high level political commitments by drawing attention to key development areas. They have shown how goals can be useful for focusing development efforts. While the world today is markedly different than 15 years ago, MDGs can be considered a good first step towards more overarching and universal development goals of the future.

MDGs were not ‘fit for purpose’ as national level planning tools

A Life of Dignity for All: Comments from IRF2015 on the UN Secretary-General’s report

Fri, 2013-09-20 12:59
Peter Hazlewood

Director for Ecosystems and Development at the World Resources Institute

In July, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released “A Life of Dignity for All: Accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015.” As representatives arrive in New York for the opening of the 68th UN General Assembly, Peter Hazlewood (World Resources Institute) comments on some of the strengths, weaknesses and key questions from the report’s treatment of the post-2015 agenda.

A single, universal development agenda, with sustainability and equity at its core

Future of education post-2015

Thu, 2013-07-04 23:16
Wongani Grace Nkhoma

Education Programme Manager, OSISA

Achieving equitable quality education for all will require a paradigm shift in the way education is conceptualised and delivered. This will require concerted efforts by all actors, from government, civil society, the private sector, and parents.

Leymar is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo living in South Africa. Like many other refugee children, Leymar – which is not his real name – does not go to school. He does not have the necessary papers to register at the local school and language is another barrier. His dream of a quality education may never be realised – and there are many children like him.

Why do we need global goals?

Tue, 2013-05-28 16:37

Simon Hoiberg Olsen, IGES



Tailoring a set of global sustainable development goals (SDGs) to national contexts will be critical to advancing the post-2105 development agenda.

This is clearly illustrated in paragraph 249 of the Rio+20 outcome document that recommends SDGs that are “…global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities.” But paragraph 249 offers limited insight into how global SDGs can accommodate unique national contexts. In this post, we reflect upon why and how to craft globally accepted and nationally appropriate goals for energy and governance.