United Nations officially agrees on the sustainable development goals

The SDGs set the new global development agenda by presenting ambitious goals and targets to improve the world. But these goals require meaningful commitments from leaders and communities if they are to be realised.

The United Nations officially launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on September 25, 2015 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA. The launch was attended by Pope Francis and Malala Yousfazi, the youngest ever Noble Prize laureate, alongside presidents, prime ministers, diplomats, politicians, country representatives, civil society and activists.

Moving beyond lip service

The SDGs set the new global development agenda by presenting ambitious goals and targets to improve the world. But these goals require meaningful commitments from leaders and communities if they are to be realised.

Addressing the launch, Pope Francis urged world leaders to move beyond lip service and take concrete action in order to address these world-pressing issues. He emphasized how solutions must reflect local realities.

Pope Francis said:World leaders seem not to realise that, while they hedge, real people suffer. When they finally do find a solution, it is often imposed without thought to local realities.”

Malala Yousfazi, a Pakistani advocate for girls’ education and the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Prize, urged leaders to pledge to provide education for all children.

She said: “Promise an education to my brave sister Salam, and all refugee children, that wars cannot stop them from learning…promise that you will keep your commitments.”

The birth of the SDGs

The SDGs will set the global development agenda for the next fifteen years.There are 17 goals in total, made up of 169 targets. The SDGs have been developed to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of this year.The SDGs were first formally discussed at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which was held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 (Rio+20).

Following Rio+20, a working group was appointed to propose the first draft of the SDGs. Following this,several consultations with government representatives, civil society and young people were carried out. The final draft of the SDGs was then agreed upon and officially adopted by heads of states this month (September 2015).

Sexual and reproductive health

There are two targets in the SDGs that explicitly mention sexual and reproductive health. Target 3.7, under the SDG on health, states: “By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.”

Target 5.6, under the SDG on gender, aims to: “Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.”

The implementation of the SDGs will start in January 2016 and the indicators will be presented in March 2016.

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