Shaping post 2015 Agenda

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The six essential elements for delivering on the sustainable development goals

Six essential elements for delivering on the sustainable development goals

The following six essential elements would help frame and reinforce the universal, integrated and transformative nature of a sustainable development agenda and ensure that the ambition expressed by Member States in the report of the Open Working Group translates, communicates and is delivered at the country level.

Dignity: to end poverty and fight inequalities

Eradicating poverty by 2030 is the overarching objective of the sustainable development agenda. We live in a world of plenty and at a time of enormous scientific promise. And yet, for hundreds and hundreds of millions of people across the globe, this is also an age of gnawing deprivation. The defining challenge of our time is to close the gap between our determination to ensure a life of dignity for all, and the reality of persisting poverty and deepening inequality.

While we have made important progress in recent years, addressing gender inequality and realizing women’s empowerment and rights remain a key challenge in all regions of the world. It should by now be recognized that no society can reach its full potential if whole segments of that society, especially young people, are excluded from participating in, contributing to and benefiting from development. Other dimensions of inequality persist and have, in some cases, worsened. Income inequality specifically is one of the most visible aspects of a broader and more complex issue, one that entails inequality of opportunity. This is a universal challenge that the whole world must address. The agenda must accommodate the voices of women and the views of youth and minorities, seek the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, remove obstacles to full participation by persons with disabilities, older persons, adolescents and youth and empower the poor. It must not exclude migrants, refugees, displaced persons or persons affected by conflict and occupation.

People: to ensure healthy lives, knowledge and the inclusion of women and children

Millions of people, especially women and children, have been left behind in the wake of the unfinished work of the Millennium Development Goals. We must ensure that women and also youth and children have access to the full range of health services. We must ensure zero tolerance of violence against or exploitation of women and girls. Women and girls must have equal access to financial services and the right to own land and other assets. All children and adolescents have a right to education and must have a safe environment in which to learn. Human development also means respect for human rights.

The agenda must address universal health-care coverage, access and affordability; end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths and malnutrition; ensure the availability of essential medicines; realize women’s sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights; ensure immunization coverage; eradicate malaria and realize the vision of a future free of AIDS and tuberculosis; reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases, including mental illness, and of nervous system injuries and road accidents; and promote healthy behaviours, including those related to water, sanitation and hygiene.

Today, more than ever, the realities of 1.8 billion young people and adolescents represent a dynamic , informed and globally connected engine for change. Integrating their needs, their rights to choice and their voices in the new agenda will be a key factor for success. It is essential that young people receive relevant skills and quality education and lifelong learning, from early childhood development to post-primary schooling, including life-skills and vocational education and training, as well as science, sports and culture. Teachers must be given the means to deliver learning and knowledge in response to a safe global workplace, driven by technology.

Prosperity: to grow a strong, inclusive and transformative economy

Economic growth should lead to shared prosperity. The strength of an economy must be measured by the degree to which it meets the needs of people, and by how sustainably and equitably it does so. We need inclusive growth, built on decent jobs, sustainable livelihoods and rising real incomes for all, measured in ways that go beyond GDP and account for human well-being, sustainability and equity. Ensuring that all people, including women, persons with disabilities, youth, the aged and migrants, have decent employment, social protection and access to financial services will be a hallmark of our economic success.

Innovation and investment in sustainable and resilient infrastructure, cities and human settlements, industrialization, small and medium-sized enterprises, energy and technology can both generate employment and remedy negative environmental trends. An enabled, properly regulated, responsible and profitable private sector is critical for employment, living wages, growth and revenues for public programmes. Transforming business models for creating shared value is vital for growing inclusive and sustainable economies.

The world’s richness of natural resources also provides a formidable economic opportunity, if it is translated not only into GDP growth but into shared prosperity. Sustainable approaches to landscape management (including agriculture and forests), industrialization (including manufacturing and productive capacities), access to energy and water and sanitation are key drivers of sustainable production and consumption and job creation, as well as sustainable and equitable growth. They drive the sustainable management of natural resources and tackle climate change.

Planet: to protect our ecosystems for all societies and our children

To respect our planetary boundaries we need to equitably address climate change, halt biodiversity loss and address desertification and unsustainable land use. We must protect wildlife, safeguard forests and mountains and reduce disaster risk and build resiliencies. We must protect our oceans, seas, rivers and atmosphere as our global heritage and achieve climate justice. We must promote sustainable agriculture, fisheries and food systems; foster sustainable management of water resources and of waste and chemicals; foster renewable and more efficient energy; decouple economic growth from environmental degradation; advance sustainable industrialization and resilient infrastructure; ensure sustainable consumption and production; and achieve sustainable management of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and land use.

Sustainable development is at risk, as evidence proves that warming of the climate system is now undeniable and human activities are its primary cause. We must limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Carbon dioxide is the largest contributor to human-induced climate change. Fossil fuels usage and deforestation are its two main sources. Increasing warming will have severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts more likely. The longer we wait to take action towards sustainable production and consumption, the more it will cost to solve the problem and the greater the technological challenges will be. Adaptation can reduce some of the risks and impacts of climate change. Most urgently, we must adopt a meaningful, universal climate agreement by the end of 2015.

Justice: to promote safe and peaceful societies and strong institutions

Effective governance for sustainable development demands that public institutions in all countries and at all levels be inclusive, participatory and accountable to the people. Laws and institutions must protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. All must be free from fear and violence, without discrimination. We also know that participatory democracy and free, safe and peaceful societies are both enablers and outcomes of development.

Access to fair justice systems, accountable institutions of democratic governance, measures to combat corruption and curb illicit financial flows and safeguards to protect personal security are integral to sustainable development. An enabling environment under the rule of law must be secured for the free, active and meaningful engagement of civil society and of advocates, reflecting the voices of women, minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups, indigenous peoples, youth, adolescents and older persons. Press freedom and access to information, freedom of expression, assembly and association are enablers of sustainable development. The practice of child, early and forced marriage must be ended everywhere. The rule of law must be strengthened at the national and international level to secure justice for all.

We need to rebuild and reintegrate societies better after crises and conflicts. We must address State fragility, support internally displaced persons and contribute to the resilience of people and communities. Reconciliation, peacebuilding and Statebuilding are critical for countries to overcome fragility and develop cohesive societies and strong institutions. These investments are essential to retaining the gains of development and avoiding reversals in the future.

Partnership: to catalyse global solidarity for sustainable development

A revitalized global partnership for sustainable development must be built on the foundations agreed upon in the Millennium Declaration, at the international financing for development process undertaken in Monterrey in 2002 and the sustainable development process initiated in Johannesburg in 2002. It must be effective in mobilizing the means and in creating the environment to implement our agenda. Mobilizing the support to implement the ambitious new agenda will require political will and action on all fronts, domestic and international, public and private, through aid and trade, regulation, taxation and investment.

Implementation is not just about quantity. It is also about doing things together, uniting around the problem. Inclusive partnerships must be a key feature of implementation at all levels: global, regional, national and local. We know the extent to which this can be transformative. The sustainable development goals provide a platform for aligning private action and public policies. Transformative partnerships are built upon principles and values, a shared vision and shared goals: placing people and the planet at the centre. They include the participation of all relevant stakeholders, in which mutual accountability is critical. This means principled and responsible public-private-people partnerships.

Integrating the six essential elements

Sustainable development must be an integrated agenda for economic , environmental and social solutions. Its strength lies in the interweaving of its dimensions. This integration provides the basis for economic models that benefit people and the environment; for environmental solutions that contribute to progress; for social approaches that add to economic dynamism and allow for t he preservation and sustainable use of the environmental commons; and for reinforcing human rights, equality and sustainability. Responding to all goals as a cohesive and integrated whole will be critical to ensuring the transformations needed at scale.

The agenda itself mirrors the broader international human rights framework, including elements of economic , social, cultural, civil and political rights, as well as the right to development. Specific targets are set for disadvantaged groups. Indicators will need to be broadly disaggregated across all goals and targets.

The essential elements are further integrated by the application of the principle of universality. In addressing them to all countries and all peoples, we take account of environmental, economic and social interdependence, while also recognizing the realities of differentiated national needs and capacities.

Finally, the new framework provides a much-needed opportunity to integrate the broader United Nations agenda, with its inextricably linked and mutually interdependent peace and security, development and human-rights objectives.

All of this will have important implications for the way that all partners pursue sustainable development, requiring transformations in approaches to leadership, policy coherence, strategy and collaboration. It will also have a beneficial unifying effect on the organization of work within the United Nations system at the global, regional and country levels.

Source: The road to dignity by 2030: ending poverty, transforming all lives and protecting the planet . Synthesis report of the Secretary-General on the post 2015 sustainable development agenda