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UNGA President Launches Advisers’ Report on Sustainable Development

UNGA9 September 2013: The President of the UN General Assembly has released the report of his High-level Advisory Panel, titled ‘The United Nations in the Age of Sustainable Development.'

The Panel was established at the start of Vuk Jeremic's presidency of the 67th UNGA session. It was led by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and comprised of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and other international officials, including from Kuwait, Morocco, Senegal, Chile, Spain, Indonesia, Pakistan, Switzerland and Cyprus.

Regarding a new set of goals for the post-2015 era, the paper addresses the prospect of “simply extending the Millennium Development Goals for another 15 years,” finding that this is “not adequate.” It says the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must commit to finishing the task of the MDGs and end extreme poverty by 2030, with this goal prioritized as SDG 1. However, such gains will not last without the other dimensions of sustainable development, it argues; it is time for the international community to “move beyond the MDGs to a more comprehensive and universal set of SDGs.”

In a section on Reform of United Nations Institutions, the paper outlines new mechanisms that could be established with the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and UNGA to oversee progress on the SDGs and the major means of implementation. These include: an annual work program on the SDGs, set within a multi-year framework of action; standing committees to oversee individual SDGs and cross-cutting challenges; reporting for action by the UNGA; a ranking system of SDG progress; and compliance reviews of various branches and agencies of the UN System to the post-2015 agenda. This section also calls for a key role for the SDSN.

On key steps to be taken between now and 2015, the paper lists: agreement on the overall SDG framework by 2015; agreement on the new role of the HLPF and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); a seamless handoff from the MDGs to the SDGs by end-2015; a global benchmarking of the SDGs to create meaningful baselines; establishment of new institutions such as those described above; incorporation of the SDSN into the work program of the UNGA and HLPF in order to connect the UN processes with the global network of universities and research institutions; and endorsement of a Universal Declaration for Sustainable Development.

The paper also includes sections on: The UN We Need, How Global Goals Can Motivate Action, Public and Private Financing for Sustainable Development, The Pivotal Role of Private Business, and Inspiring the Global Public. The paper includes in an Annex the list of ten illustrative goals put forward by the SDSN in its June 2013 report. 

Jeremic launched the paper at an informal meeting of the plenary on 9 September 2013, in New York, US. [Publication: The United Nations in the Age of Sustainable Development[Letter from PGA Convening Meeting] [OHRLLS Press Release] [PGA Press Release] [UN Press Release] [Executive Summary of Paper[Webcast of Meeting]