New Open Working Group to Propose Sustainable Development Goals for Action by General Assembly’s Sixty-eighth Session

22 January 2013

New Open Working Group to Propose Sustainable Development Goals for Action by General Assembly’s Sixty-eighth Session

22 January 2013
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

New Open Working Group to Propose Sustainable Development Goals


for Action by General Assembly’s Sixty-eighth Session


The United Nations General Assembly today established the Open Working Group tasked with advancing action towards implementing a Rio+20 recommendation to develop a set of sustainable development goals.  (See Press Release GA/11338.)

Comprising 30 countries from the world’s various regions, the Open Working Group will prepare a report proposing sustainable development goals “for consideration and appropriate action” by the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly.  Participation in the Open Working Group would be facilitated by an innovative rotational procedure within the regions.

Member States agreed at Rio+20 — the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, last June — that a set of “action-oriented, concise and easy-to-communicate” goals could help drive the implementation of sustainable development.  They called on the Assembly to establish a group to help develop the goals.  The Rio+20 outcome document, “The Future We Want”, calls for their integration into the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015.

In agreeing to the development of sustainable development goals, Member States recognized that the eight Millennium Development Goals have been useful in focusing efforts on specific aspects of a broad development vision.  They have been instrumental in driving down poverty rates and increasing access to education, health care, water and sanitation, but progress has not been uniform and the United Nations is currently ramping up efforts to help countries achieve the Goals by the target year of 2015.

“‘The Future We Want’ has broadened the scope for global action for people and the planet,” says Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.  “Sustainable development goals that build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, and that apply to all countries, can provide a tremendous boost to efforts to implement sustainable development and help us address issues ranging from reducing poverty and creating jobs to the pressing issues of meeting economic, social and environmental aspirations of all people.”

In December 2012, the General Assembly adopted a resolution outlining a series of steps for implementing other aspects of the Rio+20 outcome, including preparations for the establishment of a new high-level political forum; winding down the Commission on Sustainable Development; advancing action on the 10-year programme for promoting more sustainable patterns of consumption and production; and steps towards the development of a sustainable development financing strategy, as well as options for a mechanism to promote the development, transfer and dissemination of clean, environmentally sound technologies.

According to a report of the Secretary-General intended as an initial input for the Open Working Group, 63 countries responded to a questionnaire about the new goals, citing poverty eradication and the sustainable management of natural resources as overarching priority areas.  The report says it is “noteworthy” that the key social issues addressed by the Millennium Development Goals are very high on the list, and suggests an intention to keep them “at the heart of the agenda”.  At the same time, the prominence of climate change, sustainable management of natural resources and sustainable consumption and production, as well as economic issues like employment and macroeconomic stability, suggests an interest in developing a more effective integration and balancing of the three dimensions of sustainable development, according to the report.

For more information on the sustainable development goals, and Rio+20, visit and

The report of the Secretary-General as an initial input to the Open Working Group can be found at

For interviews and more information, contact Dan Shepard, United Nations Department of Public Information, at +1 212 963 9495 or

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.