Sustainable Development Goals: An introduction

In June 2012, governments agreed at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (also known as Rio+20 or Earth Summit 2012) to launch a government-led process to create a set of universal sustainable development goals (SDGs). The SDGs were originally envisaged to be an international framework to enable countries to better target and monitor progress across all three dimensions of sustainable development (social, environmental and economic) in a coordinated and holistic way. The goals will be applicable to all countries, regardless of their level of development.

At Rio+20, it was agreed that the SDGs should be consistent with international law, build upon existing international commitments and contribute to the full implementation of the outcomes of all major summits in the economic, social and environmental fields, such as Agenda 21 and Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, and respect the Rio Principles.

A UN General Assembly Open Working Group (OWG) on SDGs was established to develop a proposal for the new goals. This intergovernmental process ran parallel to a UN Secretary-General led process on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, which involved a number of consultations to assess the options for a successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are set to expire at the end of 2015. The MDGs are eight international goals that aim to accelerate development in the world’s poorest countries.

Open Working Group on SDGs timeline

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Open Working Group on SDGs member states

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Open Working Group on SDGs meetings

Consultation

Final Report of Open Working Group on SDGs

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