The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were a set of targets for developing countries to reduce extreme poverty. The targets covered income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion – while promoting gender equality, education and environmental sustainability. Drawing on the Declaration on the Right to Development, the MDGs called on the countries of the developed world to assist. The MDGs did face considerable criticism for not paying adequate attention to the international human rights obligations of governments, to peoples’ participation and for their emphasis on the economic dimension of development. The MDGs were also criticised for the targets selected and for a lack of emphasis on environmental sustainability. Nevertheless, the MDGs were effective in approaching some of the agreed targets in a number of countries, notably China and India.
It was at the Rio+20 Conference, the third world conference on environmental sustainability, that the proposal for the Sustainable Development Goals was formulated.
Three years later, and following a complex and exhaustive world-wide consultation, governments at the UN adopted and launched the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 Goals.
The 17 Goals deal with poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, infrastructure and industry, inequality, sustainable cities, consumption, climate, protection of oceans, protection of land, peace and justice, and international co-operation. Unlike the MDGs, the SDGs target have been adopted by all countries, not only developing ones.
Importantly, the SDGs stress the responsibility of business in achieving the Goals,
not only in terms of ﬁnance and economic growth, but also to accord with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Read the 2030 Agenda.
The 2030 Agenda commits governments to establishing a ‘robust, voluntary, effective, participatory, transparent and integrated follow-up and review framework’ and sets out important principles to guide the review process at all levels, including gender sensitivity and respect for human rights.
Choose three of the goals yet to be met in your own country. Review these goals and what pressure human rights defenders need to devise for the goals to be met by 2030.