World Resources Institute
The Open Working Group has proposed a comprehensive and potentially transformative set of global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Some issues remain unresolved, though, giving rise to five key questions.
- How can the weaknesses in the current draft—a lack of specificity, focus and integration across the framework—be improved while preserving the consensus that has been achieved? While there is considerable scope for improvement, many countries would prefer not to re-open the proposed goals and targets, and it is uncertain whether doing so would result in a stronger or weaker final outcome.
- How will the most contentious issues, such as climate change, rule of law and peaceful societies, and sexual and reproductive rights, be addressed? While they all made it into the Open Working Group’s proposal, these topics are some of the most vulnerable when more countries have their say. Will they be strengthened, weakened or dropped altogether?
- Will rhetoric around universality turn into tangible and substantial commitments by all countries? Much has been made of the idea that the post-2015 SDGs will apply to all countries—developing, emerging and advanced economies alike. How much of this will materialize in the final agenda and its subsequent implementation?
- What will be the shape of a ‘new’ global partnership for sustainable development and will it be ‘fit-for-purpose’? Difficult work lies ahead on elaborating the policy, trade, technology, capacity development and financing measures needed to implement the post-2015 SDGs. The Financing for Development Conference in July will be a critical opportunity to set the contours for how the new agenda will be financed and implemented, and how to reshape the global partnership for development to meet the challenges of a universal sustainable development agenda.
- Finally, whatever the final outcome, how can we package and communicate the agenda in a way that speaks to governments, civil society, the private sector and citizens? The agenda is only as effective as its ability to motivate action above and beyond business-as-usual. The complexity of the agenda needs to be distilled into a limited number of core messages that articulate a compelling vision and the potential that the post-2015 agenda represents to all countries and stakeholders—from heads of state to ordinary citizens.
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