Get excited for 2015 – a year of sustainability


The year 2015 will be the year defined by global action. It will be a year of transformation, excitement and determination, as the world celebrates the successes of the MDGs, and the launch of the long-anticipated post-2015 sustainable development agenda. Not since the publication of the Millennium Declaration in 2000 has the spotlight of the international community shone as brightly on international development and the means to implement lasting changes benefitting people and the planet as now.

It will be a year to remember. UN DESA is working with the whole UN system and the Member States, turning the attention onto the world’s most pressing development issues.

Supported by UN DESA, the international community will prepare for the launch of the new development agenda in September, and make sure that nations worldwide are getting ready to implement the new sustainable development goals.

Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General praised the General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals on their achievement of drafting 17 goals and 169 targets towards an all-encompassing development agenda. Being part of these efforts and making sure even the most marginalized groups are included beyond 2015, UN DESA is collaborating with civil society on “rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world,” during the 53rd Session of the Commission for Social Development.

“We all know the last mile is always the difficult one. So the last dash to the finish line will be very challenging”

Wu Hongbo UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General

Sustainable development

Sustainable development and the climate question will also play a pivotal role in the new development agenda. With the International Year of Small Island Development States coming to a close in February, UN DESA looks back on the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, described by Mr. Wu as a “resounding success.”

“The conference produced a very solid and very meaningful input to the post 2015 development process,” he said.

The International Day of Forests in March and the 11th session of the UN Forum on Forests will underline the importance to maintain and nurture these complex ecosystems. But while climate change has gained its place in history as one of the most pressing issues of our time, rapid population growth is equally defining quality of life and social policy in the 21st century. The role of youth in the transition from MDG’s to SDG’s will be at the centre of the debate at the annual ECOSOC youth forum this year. Meanwhile, managing development in the face of the world’s expanding population numbers will be underscored at the 48th session of the Commission on population and development.

For the 13th year, government agencies and programmes from around the world will be competing for the UN Public Service Awards. Each year, the awards given to ground-breaking public service initiatives, recognizing that without innovative public service, social and economic development will only go so far.

The last mile 

ECOSOC’s Annual Ministerial Review will focus on what it will take to manage the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

“We all know the last mile is always the difficult one,” Mr. Wu acknowledged. “So the last dash to the finish line will be very challenging.”

Starting with a special high-level ECOSOC meeting with the World Bank, IMF, WTO and UNCTAD in April and following with the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July, UN DESA gives prominence to the means of implementation of the world’s ambitious development plans.

“Arriving at a comprehensive financing framework will be central to any agreement on a sustainable development agenda,” Mr. Wu, who is also the Conference Secretary-General, said. “The success of the Conference will be a significant milestone for the Summit on post-2015 in September.”

Making sure that the development is happening at the right pace and in the right places, the Statistical Commission is already working on developing preliminary indicators to monitor the SDG’s. Mr Wu was also recently appointed by the Secretary-General as the Senior Official of the United Nations with the responsibility for coordinating follow-up action to the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. This task includes coordinating a system-wide action plan on indigenous peoples, raising awareness on the rights of indigenous peoples and increasing the coherence of the activities of the United Nations system in this regard. These issues are a key part of his agenda this year.

Prospects of development

DESA is looking at the prospects of development with cautious optimism.  Global economic growth is seeing a slight increase, but the expansion remains moderate. The World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2015 gives a comprehensive outlook on the year ahead: Where can we expect prosperity, and what are the risks to the world’s delicate recovery from crisis?

 “This is the first time in human history that development is globally acknowledged to cover three dimensions – economic, social and environmental,” Mr. Wu emphasized. “What we want, what will be the end results, this is to be decided by Member States,”

2015, the year of sustainability and development, will also be the 70th birthday of the United Nations. Reflecting on 70 years of global development work, peace negotiations and ground breaking resolutions will be the perfect opportunity for the UN and UN DESA to kick-start a new era of development, movement and progress. Towards a world with economic and social prosperity that is shared by all.

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