History of the 2030 Agenda

On this page:

I. History
II. Process
III. Coalition Demands


I. History of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

On December 31, 2015, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — a set of 8 goals adopted in 2000 to address global issues such as poverty, hunger, disease, gender inequality, and access to water and sanitation — came to an end, with uneven progress toward achieving the goals.

RIO+20_Logo_FVLThe process to develop the post-2015 development agenda began three years before the MDGs expired. In 2012, during the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (or Rio+20), Member States launched process to develop the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which build upon the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the post-2015 development agenda. After Rio+20, the UN System, Member States, civil society organizations and other stakeholders worked together through various processes to develop the post-2015 development agenda.

The post-2015 development agenda  consisted of two processes coming out of the 2010 MDG Summit and the 2012 Rio+20 outcome documents. The MDG Summit requested the Secretary-General to initiate thinking on the global development agenda beyond 2015, while the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development initiated an inclusive process to develop a set of sustainable development goals through the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These processes were envisaged to be closely linked and ultimately converged in one global development agenda beyond 2015, with sustainable development at its core.

Advocacy around the post-2015 development agenda presented an opportunity for women’s rights and social justice organizations to help shape a development framework that could transform the lives of women and marginalized populations. The Post-2015 Women’s Coalition actively engaged with Member States, UN agencies, and other civil society organizations and stakeholders at each of the seven sessions of intergovernmental negotiations that took place from January to August 2015. (Find briefs on each of the sessions here.)

SDS_Logo_EIn September 2015, at the UN Sustainable Development Summit, the 193 Member States adopted the post-2015 development agenda, including the 17 SDGs, with an outcome document titled “Transforming Our World, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” (Read the Coalition’s Response to the outcome document here.) The post-2015 development agenda, formerly adopted and now known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, builds on the MDGs in order to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.

In the context of the SDGs and other processes, women’s rights advocates and social justice organizations continue to seek to highlight the nexus between gender equality, women’s rights, women’s empowerment and development, demonstrating how progress towards equality can lead to greater social, ecological and economic justice. These linkages are now widely recognized and feminist leadership and active participation are necessary to ensure that progress continues as governments implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

II. United Nations Processes

A number of UN processes were undertaken to define a road map for the 2030 Agenda. They include:

Discussions that affected the 2030 Agenda also took place in other UN spaces, including the 20-year reviews of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+20); the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (Beijing+20); as well as within the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Climate Summit.

III. Transforming the Global Development Agenda

During the initial stages in the development of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Post-2015 Women’s Coalition made the following demands:

Be explicitly shaped by, and grounded in, human rights, including the principles of equality and nondiscrimination

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) , and the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (CPR)   and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR)  among other international human rights instruments as well as international consensus documents, including the Declaration on the Right to Development, the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights, the ICPD Programme of Action, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, provide a clear normative framework for promoting and protecting women’s human rights and addressing gender inequality. They should form the non-negotiable basis of any post-2015 development framework.

Place gender equality, women’s human rights and women’s empowerment at its core

The new development agenda must outline specific strategies to eliminate gender-based inequalities in all areas of concern to women, whether social development, health including sexual and reproductive health, economic development, environmental sustainability, and peace and security. Inequality must be understood and addressed from an intersectional approach, recognizing the ways in which multiple factors – including race, ethnicity, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability – can increase and compound discrimination and marginalization.

Address the structural factors that perpetuate crisis, inequality, insecurity and human rights violations.

In the wake of the financial crisis, which has had a disproportionate and particular impact on women, feminists and others have proposed transforming policy responses and rethinking the mainstream development model to promote greater equality, equity, security and sustainability. To this end, a post 2015 framework must ensure that macroeconomic policies and the international financial system work to advance gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.

Be developed with the meaningful and substantive participation and leadership of women.

Women’s organizations and social justice groups working for gender equality, human rights and women’s empowerment should be fully supported to meaningfully engage – at all levels of consultation. Grassroots women leaders from community-based organizations are key stakeholders in the development of a post 2015 development agenda and should be enabled to negotiate for their own development priorities throughout this process.

Ensure that economic interests are not allowed to override the greater aim of respecting human rights and promoting sustainable development through clear regulations.

Global partnerships should take into account the national capacities of states and not entrench inequalities through neoliberal reforms that leave countries struggling to meet their development objectives.

Ensure strong mechanisms for accountability within countries and at the international level.

Accountability should be universal, holding both northern and southern governments to account for their commitments to gender equality and women’s human rights. Robust financing for development is crucial. To this end, northern countries must be accountable to their ODA commitments, allocating 0.7% of GDP to development cooperation.

For more information on the development of the new 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, please visit this website.

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