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Editor's Note: SDGs, MDGs, Post-Rio and Post-2015 

Issue #196 | 10 October 2012

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By: Lynn Wagner, Ph.D., Group Director, SDG Knowledge, IISD <>

The opening of the UN General Assembly has been accompanied by a flurry of events to set the stage for the follow-up of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) as well as the post-2015 development agenda.

During a briefing for civil society with members of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, civil society representatives were encouraged to engage in three processes that would be involved in setting the post-2015 development agenda – the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons, the country-level consultations and thematic consultations to be facilitated by the UN Development Group, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) process. The Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning, Amina Mohammed, emphasized the importance of the narrative that will develop over the coming months and will inform these processes.

Statements at this and other briefings around the UN sought to begin framing this narrative. Many speakers emphasized that there are still three years to go to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the focus on what will take their place should not detract from efforts to achieve the MDGs by 2015. Another theme was that it should not take five years to recognize whatever replaces the MDGs, a concern reflecting the time between the release of the UN Secretary-General's report to the UN General Assembly presenting eight development goals with 18 targets and 48 indicators and the first comprehensive review of the MDGs, in 2005 at the World Summit. Rather, the political will to embrace and implement them should be built up at the same time that they are created. In this regard, speakers also emphasized the role for a transparent and inclusive process, to ensure that the new goals are immediately accepted and implemented. The need for a holistic and sustainability-oriented post-2015 framework, including a framework that is more sensitive to inequality, has also been emphasized in the past weeks.

Meanwhile, the thematic consultations are getting underway. Each of the eleven thematic consultations will be co-convened by two or more UN agencies. The themes to be addressed in the global consultations are: governance; growth and employment; health; inequality; education; environmental sustainability; food security and nutrition; conflict and fragility; population dynamics; water; and energy. UN Women and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) recently launched a public online discussion on the theme of "inequalities."

On 16 October, the narrative around the SDGs will take center stage. At a Special Event of the UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee, UN Member States and other participants will have their first opportunity since Rio+20 to engage in discussions on how to develop the SDGs. The Secretary-General has also developed a follow-up framework to Rio+20 by the UN System. This framework identifies the follow-up actions called for in the Rio+20 outcome, along with the UN entity tasked with the responsibility to lead and the timeframe for delivering the outcome.

The agenda for the coming months is going to be very full, and we are assembling our post-2015 development agenda team to report on the developing narrative and follow the events, beginning with the opening statements in the UN General Assembly's Second Committee. We look forward to tracking the developing narrative.