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Beyond 2015

Overview I News on Post-2015 I Resources and Think Pieces I FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
The Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda

What are the Millennium Development Goals?

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – were adopted by UN Member States in 2000. The MDGs have been the most successful global anti-poverty push in history. They have made a huge difference, helping to set global and national priorities and fuel action on the ground, raising awareness and shaping a broad vision that remains the overarching framework for development work across the world. MDG targets for reducing poverty, improving access to safe drinking water, and improving the lives of 200 million slum dwellers have been met. More kids than ever are attending primary school with parity between boys and girls. Child deaths have dropped dramatically, and targeted investments in fighting malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have saved millions of lives.

What will happen after 2015 – the target date for the Millennium Development Goals?

With strong leadership and accountability to meet commitments, the progress seen in implementing the MDGs can be accelerated and expanded in most of the world’s countries, and more MDG targets can be met by 2015. The progress that is made towards the MDG targets today will translate into improving more lives, now and under future development objectives. Therefore, accelerating MDG progress and preparing for the post-2015 UN development framework are part of the same effort.


Looking beyond the MDGs, much remains to be done to build the future we want. Continuing gaps – on poverty, hunger, health, gender equality, water, sanitation and many other issues – will still need attention after 2015. The UN sustainable development agenda for the period after 2015 will build on the progress achieved through the MDGs while addressing persistent inequalities and new challenges facing people and the planet.

What will the post-2015 agenda look like?

The new development agenda will need to advance sustainable development—improving economic and social well-being while protecting the environment. -- and address issues including inclusive growth, equality, peace and security, governance and human rights. It must be bold, ambitious and universal – relevant to all people and all societies, everywhere. It must constitute global transformational change for people and planet, with common, shared responsibilities for all countries, recognizing that countries have different capabilities. It will draw on experience gained in implementing the MDGs – both in terms of results achieved and areas for improvement. The agenda must be concrete, understandable and inspirational, with time-bound targets, for which measurable indicators can be developed.

How will the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were mandated by the outcome of the Rio+20 conference fit into the post-2015 sustainable development framework?

In the outcome document for the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio de Janeiro, June 2012)  entitled “The Future We Want,” countries recognized the success of the MDGs in galvanizing action to eradicate poverty and promote human development. They agreed to build on the success of the MDGs by developing a set of sustainable development goals that are global in nature and universally applicable.  Since Rio+20, the UN General Assembly has established a 30-member Open Working Group to develop these goals, and this work is now ongoing.  Member States will also discuss strategy for financing sustainable development and consider options for improved sharing of technology, as a contribution to the post-2015 framework.  In September 2013, Member States agreed on a roadmap to integrate all these complementary strands with ongoing efforts to accelerate and review progress towards the achievement of the MDGs.

What was the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel?

The UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Post-2015 was formed in July 2012 with 27 members, including government leaders and representatives from civil society and the private sector. It was tasked with advising the Secretary-General on the future development agenda. The Panel produced a bold yet practical development vision which has been presented to the Secretary-General as one input to his report on the ongoing work on MDG acceleration and post-2015 to be considered by UN Member States in September 2013. The Panel’s report was also presented to all Member States in the General Assembly, and to the Open Working Group on the sustainable development goals.


At the core of the Panel’s proposals are five transformational shifts. The new agenda must include everyone. It requires us to put sustainable development at its core in order to drive prosperity and eliminate inequalities while addressing threats to humanity from climate change and environmental degradation. It makes creating jobs and sustainable livelihoods a priority. It establishes that peace, security and freedom from violence are essential. And it calls for forging a new global partnership to support this transformative agenda.

What is the consultation process for creating the post-2015 sustainable development agenda?

Work to develop a post-2015 sustainable development agenda has begun through an open and inclusive process involving Governments, the private sector, civil society groups, academics and youth. More than 100 consultations worldwide have been completed thus far. An online platform – The World We Want 2015 – has connected people in a global conversation, while MY World, a survey seeking opinions on the issues that matter most, has received more than two million votes in over 190 countries. These inputs from civil society were presented to the High-level Panel on Post-2015 and also informed the Secretary-General’s report to UN Member States in September 2013. In addition, they have been used by the UN System in preparing inputs to the deliberations of the 30-member Open Working Group established by the UN General Assembly to develop a set of sustainable development goals.

What is the Sustainable Development Solutions Network?

Launched by the UN Secretary-General, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network draws on academic and technical expertise worldwide to support the UN development framework by identifying pathways to address the challenges of ending poverty, increasing social inclusion and achieving sustainable development. The Network, directed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the MDGs, launched its report on 6 June 2013 and will continue to promote viable solutions that can be implemented on the ground.

What is the timeline for establishing the sustainable development agenda?

The sustainable development agenda will need to be ready to be put into action as soon as we reach the target date for the MDGs in 2015, thus enabling a seamless transition. Several processes are already ongoing which will feed into the process. Following the results of worldwide consultations, the High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Agenda submitted its report to the Secretary-General in May 2013. The UN Development Group, UN Global Compact and Sustainable Development Solutions Network have also provided reports that will inform the Secretary-General’s recommendations to Member States for consideration in September 2013. The 30-member Open Working Group, established by the UN General Assembly, is developing a proposal for sustainable development goals, and Member States are discussing a strategy for financing sustainable development and considering options for improved sharing of technology, as a contribution to the post-2015 agenda.


At a Special Event on the MDGs held by the President of the UN General Assembly in September 2013, a report of the Secretary-General to UN Member States informed some preliminary decisions towards shaping the post-2015 agenda. The Secretary-General and the UN System will continue to support UN Member States over the course of the coming period as deliberations continue on agreeing and finalizing a new sustainable development agenda.