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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