The SDGs- one year on we must not lose focus
23 September 2016
Just one year ago this week, 193 governments at the UN signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) or "Global Goals" as they are commonly known. The Goals - were signed off with a fanfare after years of extensive consultation with NGOs, civil society, member states, and members of the public in the biggest consultation process the United Nations had undergone in its 70-year history. The idea is indeed exciting: a shared vision, a common agenda for tackling global inequality and injustice, climate change and sustainable growth underpinned by 17 measurable goals to be delivered over the 15 years until 2030. The SDGs go much further than their predecessor - the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with goals on ending violence and discrimination against women and girls, good governance, access to justice and the rule of law, and reducing inequalities within all our societies – goals which were missing under the MDGs. But the key difference is that while the MDGs were targets for developing countries to meet with finance from developed countries, the new goals are universal - all countries have pledged to align their policies, plans, and budgets with the goals of the 2030 development agenda.
One year on, has anything changed? In Britain, the Conservative government has been slow to live up to the promises it made in New York last year. DFID (International Development Dept) is leading on UK implementation, but there is little sign of concrete plans to realign the UK’s policy across all departments to make meeting the SDGs a priority as other countries have done - in other words, little sign that the UK is embracing the universality concept. As the UN focused this week on the record levels of refugees and migration flows around the world, leaders should remember the value of addressing the root causes of inequality and not just alleviating the symptoms. 2015 was a landmark year for international development but we need to build on the momentum and support for the SDGs and not lose our focus on eradicating poverty.