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UNSG Provides Initial Input on SDGs

12 December 2012: UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon has circulated his initial input to the Open Working Group (OWG) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in an advance, unedited document of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), dated 12 December 2012.

The document offers a synthesis of the input received from a questionnaire sent to Member States in September 2012. A total of 63 Member States responded, including the EU (joint response), representing approximately one-third of the UN membership, the report notes.

In an introduction to the report, the Secretary-General notes that sustainable development “represents a natural next step in the evolution of the development agenda, supported by the UN.” The introduction also speaks of defining one set of appropriate goals, targets and indicators of the post-2015 development agenda.

On SDG priority areas, poverty eradication and sustainable management of natural resources are high on the list of many respondents, the document says. It also highlights that social issues addressed by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are very high on the list, suggesting “an intent to keep the MDGs at the heart of the agenda.” Meanwhile, the prominence of climate change, sustainable management of natural resources, and sustainable consumption and production, as well as of economic issues like employment and macroeconomic stability, suggests an interest in having a more effective integration and balancing of the three dimensions of sustainable development going forward, according to the report.

Other aspects of the government responses are synthesized under headings on: balancing the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development; key use of SDGs at country level; defining national targets for global, universally applicable goals; incorporating existing goals and targets; ensuring coherence with the post-2015 development agenda; assessing progress; engaging all stakeholders; SDG principles; and New Global Partnership for Development.

Regarding the need for coherence between the process of formulating SDGs and the processes for defining the post-2015 development agenda, the synthesis report emphasizes the following defining elements: core values of human rights, equality and sustainability; an agenda based on concrete end goals and targets, one of the key strengths of the MDG framework – potentially differentiated along four dimensions of a more holistic approach: (1) inclusive social development, (2) inclusive economic development, (3) environmental sustainability, and (4) peace and security – which builds upon the three pillars of sustainable development; "development enablers” that help guide policy coherence at all levels; recognizing that one-size-does-not-fit-all, thus leaving space for national policy design and adaptation to local settings; and conceiving the agenda as truly global, with shared responsibilities for all countries, implying also a redefinition of the global partnership for development.

The questionnaire and its responses also are meant as a contribution to the UN-supported national consultations on the post-2015 development agenda. [Publication: Secretary-General's Initial Input to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals] [IISD RS Story on Survey to Governments] [IISD RS Story on Government Responses]