UN adopts Sustainable Development Goals, aims to end poverty!

UN adopts Sustainable Development Goals, aims to end poverty!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff


In an unprecedented move, the United Nations have adopted a highly ambitious plan to eradicate poverty as the central part of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ambitious UN SDGs that aim to end poverty, hunger, assure gender equality, climate protection and build a life of dignity for all over the next 15 years, were adopted at the Unite Nations on Friday the 26th September as global leaders descended on the world body’s headquarters on the historic occasion.

Adopted in the shadow of the worst refugee crisis since World War II, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, call for shared peace and prosperity and cap three years of debate and discussions. The three-day UN Sustainable Development Summit kicked off today with a record number of world leaders attending including Modi as well as heads of multilateral bodies like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The 193-member General Assembly adopted the new framework, “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, composed of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.  The new development agenda, arrived at after months and years of intense negotiations, was adopted as world leaders, heads of global financial institutions and other dignitaries headed to the UN headquarters for its landmark 70th anniversary session.

Pope Francis, on his maiden visit to the US, made a historic address to the General Assembly during a tour timed for the global gathering. The much-watched week saw the likes of pop star Shakira and footballer David Beckham, both Goodwill Ambassadors of the UN Children’s Fund, making appearances to preview the importance of the global goals.

The 193 UN member nations formally adopted the goals after an address to the United Nations by Pope Francis, who called the adoption “an important sign of hope.” “Solemn commitments, however, are not enough, even though they are a necessary step toward solutions,” said the Pope as the Vatican flag flew for the first time outside the United Nations where security was heightened for his visit. He said world leaders must follow through with “a will which is effective, practical, constant, with concrete steps and immediate measures” to protect the environment and end social and economic exclusion.

The summit opened with a screening of the film ‘The Earth From Space’ and was followed by performances from Shakira and fellow UN Goodwill Ambassador singer Angelique Kidjo, as well as a call to action by female education advocate and youngest-ever Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai along with youth representatives as torch bearers to a sustainable future. In his remarks at the summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, UN chief Ban said nations have reached “a defining moment in human history”. “The new agenda is a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. It is a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world. It is an agenda for people, to end poverty in all its forms,” he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the agenda of Sustainable Development Goals as “a clarion call” to “share prosperity, empower people’s livelihoods, ensure peace and heal our planet for the benefit of this and future generations”.  Ban said the  SDGs are “our guide and a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success”, he underscored that in order to achieve these new global goals, high-level political commitment and a renewed global partnership is required. “The 2030 Agenda compels us to look beyond national boundaries and short-term interests and act in solidarity for the long-term”.  Ban also stressed that institutions will have to become fit for purpose.

Among the ambitious 17 goals to be adopted by the UN for the next 15 years is complete poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, gender equality, sustainable cities and communities and clean water and sanitation.  Officials have forecast 2015 as “a watershed year” for the UN for having reached an agreement that will “change the paradigm about development” while “leaving no one behind” and giving a boost to a global climate change accord later this year.

The UN chief made a clarion call to governments to adopt a robust universal climate agreement in Paris in December. Ban hoped the visit to the UN by the Pope would also bolster support for action on climate change.  UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said that the former goals, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are truly achieved. The MDGs grew out of the 1992 UN Conference on Environmental and Development better known as the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the concept of sustainable development began to gain momentum.

There is a huge gap between the world we live in and the world we want. These goals represent people’s aspirations and rights and they must and can be realized. Supporters say the hefty task that lies beyond the three-day SDG summit that concludes on Sunday is implementing the 17 goals and their 169 accompanying targets into programs, policies and parliaments in member nations. Such implementation, requiring trillions of dollars in investment, will be monitored and reviewed using a set of global indicators to be agreed by March 2016. While critics have described the SDGs as too broad and ambitious, supporters argue the agreement is a positive step as a shared vision to improve lives globally.

Sustainable Development Goals: This is the first time that World leaders have adopted very expansive UN goals to tackle poverty, inequality, climate change.

This indeed is a highly positive and promising move on the part of UN.

To mark the landmark occasion, the UN headquarters complex was lit up one night with colorful, massive projections of the new SDGs for all to see.


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