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Action 2015

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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.

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. In the past few years many different reports, events and processes have fed into establishing the post-2015 development agenda, including reports by the Secretary-General, the High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Agenda, the UN Development Group, UN Global Compact , Sustainable Development Solutions Network , the Open Working Group on sustainable development goals, the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing.

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. At the conclusion of the event, world leaders called for an ambitious, long-term agenda to improve people’s lives and protect the planet for future generations.

In the lead up to the summit in September 2015 where world leaders are expected to gather to adopt the post-2015 development agenda, the Secretary-General and UN System will keep supporting UN Member States as intergovernmental deliberations continue. Results from consultations, key reports and other processes in 2014 fed into the Secretary-General’s synthesis report, The Road to Dignity by 2030, which presents a vision for UN Member States to consider carrying forward in negotiations leading up to the United Nations Special Summit on Sustainable Development, which will adopt the post-2015 development agenda.


The Secretary-General and the UN System will continue to support UN Member States throughout 2015 as deliberations continue on agreeing and finalizing a new sustainable development agenda.

What is the Secretary-General’s synthesis report?

Requested by UN Member States to pull together inputs from all strands on post-2015, The Secretary-General’s synthesis report, The Road to Dignity by 2030, channels the results of an unprecedented open and transparent global conversation and intergovernmental process that considered a broad range of recommendations, key reports, peoples’ voices and viewpoints from a wide swath of sectors and stakeholders.


The report presents a vision for UN Member States to consider carrying forward in negotiations leading up to the United Nations Special Summit on Sustainable Development, which will adopt the post-2015 development agenda. Next September, world leaders are expected to agree on an historic and far-reaching package of sustainable development goals for the next 15 years, including in the area of climate change. By 2030 we can end poverty and transform lives while protecting the planet.

The report synthesizes key recommendations that will see 2015 as truly a time for global action, laying out a universal and transformative agenda centred on people and planet. This new agenda will be underpinned by human rights and supported by global partnerships and a universal agreement on tackling climate change.

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 issued a proposed set of sustainable development goals to the UN General Assembly in July 2014.  Member States also established Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing to consider financing sustainable development and options for improved sharing of technology, as a contribution to the post-2015 framework. The Group shared its report in August 2014. Rio+20 also established the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development, which is the main UN platform dealing with sustainable development and last met in July 2014. 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 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 millions of votes in over 190 countries. These inputs from civil society continue to feed into many events, reports and processes leading up the summit in September 2015 where world leaders are expected to adopt the post-2015 development agenda.

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 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, has presented several works and will continue to promote viable solutions that can be implemented on the ground.