The Health of Our Global Community: Canada’s Responsibility at Home and Abroad

By Sarah Kennell

Health is prominently featured in the Sustainable Development Goals – and rightly so. It affects us all. From developing strategies that address the Ebola crisis to ensuring healthcare systems meet the needs of all people, health is a human right and central to positive economic, social and environmental outcomes.

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages includes a cross-cutting set of targets on maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, and environmental impacts. Health is also integrated as a target across a number of goals, including those related to gender, the environment, poverty and consumption – implicitly recognizing the interlinkages necessary to health. Such an approach signals a shift from how development was conceived in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (three separate goals), toward the new integrated development framework of the SDGs, which aspires to be grounded in a human rights-based approach.

One area where such a shift is clear in the SDGs is around sexual and reproductive health – and the Government of Canada with its focus on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, can play a leadership role on this, at home and abroad.

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Canada and Climate Change: Earning a Seat at the Global Table

By Dale Marshall

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted a week ago today at the United Nation’s General Assembly, contain all the needed elements for Canada and the world to take meaningful action on climate change. It could also give momentum to the UN climate summit, happening this December in Paris.

The climate change goal in the SDGs, Goal 13, and its targets are certainly comprehensive enough to capture the major challenges that countries need to address. If all nations were able to integrate climate change measures across national plans and priorities, boost resilience and their ability to adapt to rising climatic impacts, and build their awareness and capacity on both tackling the root causes and the effects of climate change, then we would be well on our way to overcoming this enormous challenge.

That being said, elements of the climate change goal could have been stronger. For example, including either a global goal for the reduction of carbon emissions or a commitment to phase out fossil fuels in the medium-term, would have further focused the attention of world governments on the root of the problem. We also know that the commitment to mobilize $100 billion annually to assist developing countries to address climate change is dwarfed by the cost of the impacts these nations are facing.

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How to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals: The Trillion (and More) Dollar Question

By Yiagadeesen (Teddy) Samy

The introductory blog for this series makes a compelling case for why Canada and Canadians should pay attention to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Indeed, it would be a shame if these SDGs are not fully embraced (and implemented) here at home, and by the international community writ large.

After all, it took years of consultations and negotiations to get where we are today: 17 SDGs (and 169 targets within them) to replace the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with a focus not just on the social aspects of development but also other issues such as peace and security, income inequality, and the environment and climate change.

It is also time to stop reminiscing about whether we could have come up with a simpler (shorter!) list of goals. At this point, such discussions can only be counterproductive at best. Let us not forget that even the eight MDGs were once seen as unrealistic and overly-ambitious; so it does not seem that having fewer goals (10 is a number that came up regularly in this debate) for Agenda 2030 would have calmed the critics (and I admit, myself included).

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Time to Process the New UN Global Goals

By Fraser Reilly-King

This week world leaders will meet in New York to adopt Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda includes a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that succeed the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire this year. Most people might think that this “plan of action for people, planet and prosperity” is the major outcome of the past few years. It is. But I would argue that the process is also a major outcome in and of itself. Why?

Good process matters. It can build ownership, garner input and lived experience, including from those most affected, and build on policy and practice. The United Nations (UN) is conscious of this. In 2012 it initiated a series of more than one hundred national and thematic consultations on the post-2015 agenda. These reached an estimated million people, creating space for interested stakeholders to contribute ideas and proposals. The My World Survey solicited responses from 7.7 million people on a range of topics. Expert groups were convened on the broad agenda, on financing, and on data, among other things. And the inter-governmental negotiations on both the goals and final agenda opened up new space to a broader range of civil society organizations (CSOs) and other stakeholders.

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Agenda 2030: ‘Transformational’ or still millions ‘left behind’?

By John Sinclair

Today we see the acclamation of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals, at a special UN Summit. Can it be the “transformational process” that the 2013 High Level Panel promised it would be?

At the heart of Agenda 2030 is one simple message: “leave no one behind.” Agenda 2030 is about a farmer’s rights to vote and to have meaningful expectations of a better future for himself and his family, with access to health services, to education, decent work, clean water and freedom from fear.

The intentions are all very honourable, the messages are clear, but are we, North and South, working together, ready to help deliver those rights to that farmer or his “sister” planting maize in a Tanzanian village? The UN’s Open Working Group struggled for many months to create the new list of SDGs, but as the Economist noted, is the list of 17 goals and 169 targets (some overlapping, some still being updated) just too complex and ambitious?

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Bringing Universal Global Goals to Life in Canada

By Shannon Kindornay

The adoption of Transforming our world, the outcome document for the UN High-Level Summit this week represents a momentous occasion. In addition to expanding the agenda from the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have also been billed as representing a paradigm shift in at least one important way (though there are others as this series will show). These global goals will be universal in nature, applying to all countries, not just developing ones.

But how likely are we to see a true paradigm shift – one that recognizes the shared sustainable development challenges all countries and people face? What does this look like in practice? And what does it really mean for Canada?

Universal means everywhere for everyone. As I argue in a recent paper, the global goals articulate an agenda for all people, regardless of their place of origin. As a universal agenda, the global goals should spur action at the national level across countries on domestic policy issues as well as how countries engage internationally. In Canada, the universal agenda has at least three key implications.

First, it means we need action on realising sustainable development here at home – addressing the challenges we face including the ongoing marginalization and inequalities faced by indigenous peoples, women, and other groups in Canadian society and improving our environmental track record – for starters.

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Introducing Sustainable Development Goals and Canada Unpacked

By Shannon Kindornay and Fraser Reilly-King

We finally made it. After three years of inter-governmental negotiations, consultations with millions of people worldwide, and thousands of inputs from experts, United Nations’ (UN) member states will adopt Transforming our Lives at this weekend’s UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 development agenda.

In doing so, states will agree to a new agenda for global sustainable development, replacing the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that expire at the end of this year. Over the next 15 years, the international community will be guided by 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), integrating the three broad pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental well-being.

So what are these global goals all about? And why should Canada and Canadians pay attention to them?

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