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Summary report, 17–19 April 2013

2nd Session of the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) OWG on SDGs

The second session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took place on 17-19 April 2013 at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The meeting brought together OWG members, other member states, observers, representatives from the UN system and Major Groups. The meeting was devoted to conceptualizing the SDGs and the SDG process, and to poverty eradication.

On Wednesday, an interactive exchange of views on conceptualizing the SDGs and the SDG process was held followed by a moderated panel discussion. On Thursday, delegates continued discussions on conceptualizing the SDGs and SDG process. In the afternoon, a keynote presentation on poverty eradication was delivered, followed by a moderated panel discussion on poverty eradication. Discussion on poverty eradication continued on Friday. On Friday afternoon delegates discussed the Programme of Work (PoW) for 2013-2014 and discussed the programmes for OWG-3 and OWG-4.

Co-Chair Macharia Kamau opened the session by imploring delegates to “get serious, and get on with the business of the OWG.” Delegates got down to business, discussing conceptual issues such as: how to make the goals universally applicable but still meaningful to the specific circumstances of countries; the SDG relationship to, and key lessons from, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); and poverty eradication.

On universality, delegates seemed torn between the need for simple, clear, “tweetable” goals like the MDGs, indicating this format was a clear factor for their success, and a framework that is not just “global in nature” but also “universally applicable to all countries.” Two main options laid out in an issues brief by the UN Technical Support Team (TST) were discussed: a common set of goals coupled with the adoption of differentiated targets and/or timelines calibrated to level of development and national circumstances; or a common set of goals with multiple targets and indicators under each (a dashboard or menu) from which countries themselves could prioritize when devising their own development agenda, in keeping with their level of development and national circumstances. The idea of a global dashboard seemed to be favored, although some countries expressed concern that too many targets and indicators might make the SDGs look like “a Christmas tree with too many trimmings.”

There seemed to be agreement on the need for the SDGs to aspire to be “bigger, deeper and more transformative” than the MDGs, although the Co-Chairs emphasized that this does not mean the MDGs have been abandoned. “The MDGs are the point of departure, while the SDGs are the destination,” Co-Chair Kamau said to reassure delegates at one point. The relationship of this process with the post-2015, however, is still unclear. One delegate commented in the sidelines that clarity on the relationship might be delayed at least until after the upcoming UNGA special event to follow up efforts made towards achieving the MDGs in September 2013. Discussions on poverty eradication focused mainly on whether it should be an overarching target for all the SDGs or a stand-alone goal; and how the multi-dimensional aspects of poverty can be captured in the new set of goals. On the former, although many delegates stated a preference for one or the other, some noted that it might, once again, be too early in the process to choose. On the latter, most agreed on the need to move beyond traditional income-based measures of poverty. As one panelist commented, the SDGs should leave behind “outcomes chosen for bureaucratic ease of measurement.”

Most delegates were pleased with progress made, although some issues that emerged at the meeting could prove to be contentious at future sessions. Developing country delegates made it very clear in their statements that the Rio Principles, particularly the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), were not open for debate or discussion, while developed countries hinted at the new emerging global order rendering past alliances redundant.

The discussion on the PoW at the end of the meeting also hinted at potential future discontent. For instance, many developing countries were unhappy with energy being clustered with climate change in the programme. They felt the focus of the SDG process should be on the developmental aspects of energy and access to energy for the poor, and hence the SDG discussion should take place in the context of sustained and inclusive growth. Many asked for means of implementation to be discussed with each issue, rather than in a separate session.

It remains to be seen whether the trust quotient, a vital ingredient for the success of the process, can be maintained in future sessions. Otherwise, as one delegate noted, at future sessions the conference room may need to be requisitioned for long past the daily 6:00 pm deadline.


During the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012, Member States agreed to launch a process to develop a set of SDGs and called for establishing an OWG comprising 30 representatives from the five UN regional groups, nominated by UN Member States, to work on an SDGs proposal to be submitted to the UNGA for consideration and appropriate action during its 68th session.

RIO+20: The UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, marked the 20th anniversary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 3-14 June 1992. The UNCSD was charged with securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing progress and implementation gaps in meeting previously agreed commitments, and addressing new and emerging challenges.

The third and final meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the UNCSD, Pre-Conference Informal Consultations facilitated by the host country, and the UNCSD convened back-to-back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 13-22 June 2012. During their ten days in Rio, government delegations concluded the negotiations on the Conference outcome document, titled The Future We Want. The Future We Want calls for the UNGA to take decisions on, inter alia: designating a body to operationalize the ten year framework of programmes (10YFP) on sustainable consumption and production (SCP); determining the modalities for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, which is to convene in 2014; identifying the format and organizational aspects of a high-level political forum (HLPF), which is to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development; strengthening the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); establishing an intergovernmental process under the UNGA to prepare a report proposing options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy; and considering a set of recommendations from the Secretary-General for a facilitation mechanism that promotes the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies.

The Future We Want also calls for establishing an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on SDGs, open to all stakeholders, with a view to developing global SDGs to be adopted by the UNGA. It specifies that an OWG comprising 30 representatives should be nominated by Member States no later than the opening of the 67th session of the UNGA, and that these representatives should come from the five UN regional groups in order to achieve fair, equitable and balanced geographic representation. It notes that the OWG will decide on its method of work, including developing modalities to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the UN system, and will submit a report to the 68th session of the UNGA containing a proposal for SDGs for consideration and appropriate action. The outcome document outlines, inter alia:

•  the importance of remaining firmly committed to the full and timely achievement of the MDGs and of respecting all Rio Principles, taking into account different national circumstances, capacities and priorities;

•  the SDGs should be action oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries, and focused on priority areas for the achievement of sustainable development;

•  the need to ensure coordination and coherence with the processes considering the post-2015 development agenda, and to get initial input to the OWG’s work from the UN Secretary-General in consultation with national governments;

•  the need to assess progress toward the achievement of the goals, accompanied by targets and indicators while taking into account different national circumstances, capacities and levels of development; and

•  the importance of global, integrated and scientifically based information on sustainable development and of supporting regional economic commissions in collecting and compiling national inputs to inform this global effort.

The UNGA endorsed The Future We Want in resolution 66/288.

UNGA SPECIAL EVENT ON “CONCEPTUALIZING A SET OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS”: On 16 October 2012, the UNGA Second Committee convened a special event on “Conceptualizing a Set of Sustainable Development Goals” at UN Headquarters in New York. The event served as an initial opportunity for participants to discuss how the SDGs can build on the MDGs, and possible elements of the characteristics and architecture of the SDGs.

INITIAL INPUT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL TO THE OPEN WORKING GROUP ON SDGs: On 17 December 2012, the UN Secretary-General released his initial input to the Open Working Group on SDGs (A/67/634). The report offers a synthesis of the input received from a questionnaire sent to Member States in September 2012. It includes Member States’ views on: SDG priority areas; balancing the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development; key use of SDGs at the country level; defining national targets for global, universally applicable goals; incorporating existing goals and targets; ensuring coherence with the post-2015 development agenda; assessing progress; engaging all stakeholders; SDG principles; and a new global partnership for development.

UNGA RESOLUTION 67/203: On 21 December 2012 the UNGA adopted resolution 67/203 which calls for the SDG OWG to report to the General Assembly in the early part of its 68th session, preferably before the first meeting of the HLPF. It also calls for the OWG to report regularly on its progress, taking into account the convening of the first HLPF, and the Special Event to follow-up on efforts made towards achieving the MDGs.

UNGA DECISION ON THE OWG ON SDGs (67/555): On 22 January 2013, the UNGA adopted a decision establishing the membership of the OWG as allocated to the five UN regional groups. According to the annex to the decision, six seats are held by single countries, as follows: Benin, Congo, Ghana, Hungary, Kenya and Tanzania. Nine seats are held by pairs of countries, as follows: Bahamas/Barbados; Belarus/Serbia; Brazil/Nicaragua; Bulgaria/Croatia; Colombia/Guatemala; Mexico/Peru; Montenegro/Slovenia; Poland/Romania; and Zambia/Zimbabwe. Fourteen seats are held by trios of countries, as follows: Argentina/Bolivia/Ecuador; Australia/Netherlands/UK; Bangladesh/Republic of Korea/Saudi Arabia; Bhutan/Thailand/Viet Nam; Canada/Israel/US; Denmark/Ireland/Norway; France/Germany/Switzerland; Italy/Spain/Turkey; China/Indonesia/Kazakhstan; Cyprus/Singapore/United Arab Emirates; Guyana/Haiti/Trinidad and Tobago; India/Pakistan/Sri Lanka; Iran/Japan/Nepal; and Nauru/Palau/Papua New Guinea. One seat is shared by four countries: Algeria/Egypt/Morocco/Tunisia.

INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS IN PREPARATION FOR THE FIRST SESSION OF THE OWG: Informal consultations were conducted from 6-12 March 2013 on the PoW, the possible arrangements and the draft methods of work of the OWG’s first session.

FIRST SESSION OF THE OWG: The first session of the OWG took place on 14-15 March 2013 at UN Headquarters in New York. The OWG elected, as Co-Chairs, Csaba Körösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary, and Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, who had served as co-facilitators of the consultations pertaining to the preparations for the first session of the OWG. During the meeting, which included Member States statements and an interactive discussion on “Conceptualizing the SDGs,” participants shared their initial views on both the process and substance of the SDG framework.

EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON SCIENCE AND SDGs: Organized jointly by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the International Council for Science and the International Social Science Council, the Expert Group Meeting on Science and SDGs took place from 20-21 March 2013, at UN Headquarters in New York. Participants discussed the need to make science more accessible to policy-makers and the general public, the importance of new forms of governance that can adequately address scientific evidence and phenomena, as well as scientific innovation and capacity building in developing countries.

INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS ON THE PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR THE OWG: Informal consultations on the PoW of the OWG for the second session of the group and the rest of the year were held on 5 April 2013. Delegates considered, inter alia, how to identify thematic issue areas and appropriately cluster them for discussion; the importance of poverty eradication as an overarching issue; and how to document each OWG meeting.


The second session of the OWG convened on Wednesday, 17 April 2013, at the UN Headquarters in New York. Opening the session Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya and Co-Chair of the OWG noted that the OWG would tackle several challenging questions, including how the SDGs can: build on the MDGs and other existing goals; address universality; be meaningful to each country; manage the ambitions of all countries while being realistic about what can be achieved; and be implementable and measurable. He said the overarching goal of addressing poverty must be front and center of the discussions, and highlighted the importance of addressing cross-sectoral issues such as governance, inequality and equity, gender equality and women’s empowerment, human rights and rights-based approaches, and means of implementation.

Kamau noted the need for a clear and flexible PoW for the OWG until early 2014, when the group would engage in discussion rather than negotiation. He said a draft PoW for this period, based on comments received, would be made available for discussion during the meeting.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, presented the issues brief prepared by the TST, which he said brings together the collective knowledge of some 40 entities and is divided into three parts: lessons from the MDGs and implications for the SDGs; an overview of the current conceptual proposals for framing the SDGs; and options for tackling the core conceptual issues in developing the SDGs.

Among the lessons from the MDGs, Hongbo noted, inter alia, that they: are simple, clear, concise and easy to communicate; have helped set priorities and focus resources and energies; offer a multilateral reference point for a diverse array of development actors; and are supported by a coordinated monitoring process. He noted, however, that the MDGs do no integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – and would benefit from stronger global partnerships and means of implementation.

On the overview of current proposals, Hongbo said proposals from civil society and academia are united in their call for measurable and concrete goals with a focus on eradicating poverty.

On options for tackling the key conceptual issues in developing the SDGs, Hongbo noted that a key question is how to elaborate universal goals that apply to both developing and developed countries; and how universal goals can allow for differentiation in accordance with national circumstances and priorities. He said the issues brief presented two options in this regard: a common set of goals coupled with differentiated targets and timelines that take into account national circumstances; or a common set of goals with multiple sets of indicators and targets as a ‘dashboard’ or menu, which countries could themselves prioritize when designing their development agenda.


Co-Chair Kamau asked the Group to comment on conceptualizing the SDGs and the SDG process. Many interventions called for the SDGs to be universal. Delegates also highlighted the multi-dimensional aspect of poverty eradication, with some emphasizing that it is at the core of the SDG agenda and supporting the integration of poverty eradication into all three dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced manner. Calls were made for the SDGs to be more ambitious and comprehensive than MDGs but also to build on their success. Several interventions noted that the SDGs should be measurable, time bound and limited; applicable to all but allow differentiated approaches based on national circumstances; respect the principle of CBDR and be supported by means of implementation. Some delegations supported the inclusion of civil society and other actors in the SDG process.

Fiji, on behalf of the G77/China, said the debate “should be guided by a vision of transformation.” He called for strengthening the global partnership for development and for new indicators to measure success, as well as for time bound and financing targets. He also stressed the need to: focus not only on areas outlined in The Future We Want but also in Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) and on outcomes from other major development summits; and to increase the participation of developing countries in international financial institutions. He requested the consideration of, inter alia: gender equality and empowerment of women; access to effective justice systems; atmosphere and climate change; forest; oceans and seas; water; biodiversity; sustainable cities and settlements; and SCP.

Benin, for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), called for a principle on the differential and preferential treatment of LDCs. He highlighted population dynamics, access to energy and peace and security amongst other thematic areas for discussion. He called for the LDCs to have a strong voice and participation in the OWG process including on procedural and substantive issues, noting that LDCs have established a 14-member core group to participate.

The EU underlined the need for an overarching framework with a single set of goals, and for addressing themes in an inter-related manner. He also said the SDG process should be: inclusive and transparent; ambitious but flexible; and timely to ensure submission of a report by the OWG to the 68th session of the UNGA.

Tanzania called for maintaining focus on the remaining MDG implementation gaps, observing that successor goals need to be transformative and address underlying structural constraints to implementation.

Nicaragua, also for Brazil, called for an analysis of issues that hinder implementation of SDGs, including, trade, debt and intellectual property rights (IPRs). He emphasized the importance of establishing a committee on financing, noting that the elaboration of each SDG should include the identification of sources of financing to guarantee success.

Indonesia, also on behalf of China and Kazakhstan, called for a comprehensive discussion on principles, modalities, thematic and priority issues for the SDGs before addressing design and formulation. He called for the group’s work to be based on the CBDR principle, Agenda 21, the JPOI and the Rio+20 Outcome Document.

Colombia, also on behalf of Guatemala, emphasized that the SDG architecture should be tailored to reflect the multi-dimensional challenges faced by countries. She supported a voluntary, flexible and dynamic “dashboard” of targets and indicators, which countries could sign up to in accordance with national goals and priorities. She called for enhancing statistical capacities to carry out tasks such as the elaboration of baselines. On the overall process, she called for a timeline to link the SDGs to other tenets of the sustainable development process and for basic agreement on how the processes will converge.

Viet Nam, also on behalf of Bhutan and Thailand, said the SDGs must conform to international law and respect the Rio principles. He called for the SDGs to focus on ensuring sustainability, building resilience and reducing inequalities, with poverty eradication as an overarching goal.  

Egypt observed that while the need for the SDGs to build on the MDGs is often stated, there is no clarity on how this should happen or whether the SDGs will indeed be the successors to the MDGs. Without clarity on this issue, he cautioned, “we may end up with two tracks and miss the opportunity for one coherent track.” He noted that a conceptual problem with the MDGs was the focus on outcomes, without adequate attention to a process to achieve them. He also called for a change in the existing donor-centric discourse, saying access to markets for trade and technologies for development are far more important for developing countries than aid.

Italy, also on behalf of Spain and Turkey, noted that progress on achieving the MDGs is unevenly distributed and highlighted the importance of continuing to implement the goals. He: said the SDG process represents an opportunity for a unified policy framework; cautioned against the silo approach of the MDGs; and said the SDGs should go beyond the MDGs, addressing not only basic needs but also improving living standards through a focus on green growth. He highlighted the need for the SDG process to be supported by a strong science-policy interface.

Zambia, also on behalf of Zimbabwe, said SDGs should: take into account sustainable energy, science and technological innovation, amongst other issues; foster partnership for sustainable development; and not only be quantifiable but also be associated to quality standards.

Singapore, also on behalf of Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), stressed the need to: adopt a thematic approach in developing the SDGs; consider human development and environmental sustainability jointly; and address food, energy and water as a nexus in the OWG.

Papua New Guinea, also on behalf of Nauru and Palau, the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Timor Leste, called for: ensuring the international governance system is capable of delivering on the goals; recognizing the needs of Pacific SIDS; considering ocean sustainability, access to energy, and climate change; and moving on from capacity building to institution building.

Nigeria, on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), underlined the importance of: shared responsibility in accordance with national capabilities; linkages between the work of the SDG OWG and the Intergovernmental Expert Committee on a Sustainable Development Financing Strategy; education; reliable energy sources; infrastructure and transport; and addressing desertification challenges, amongst others.

Bulgaria, also for Croatia, called for addressing cross-cutting issues including human rights, empowerment of women, justice, good governance and the role of peace and security in sustainable development.

Switzerland, also on behalf of France and Germany, expressed support for one overarching framework for sustainable development including the post-2015 development agenda and the Rio+20 process. He also called for the SDGs to: enhance sustainable development partnerships and foster mutual accountability. On means of implementation, he said financing needs to go beyond a donor-recipient relationship, and highlighted the role of the private sector. On accountability and progress he called for targets and benchmarks until 2030.

Romania, also for Poland, said that a single coordinated agenda for the post-2015 development agenda is the most efficient way to move forward based on achievements and lessons learned from the MDG process. Calling for coherence he said that international goals and targets should avoid duplication and that SDGs should be addressed through an open and inclusive process. He also supported consistent and updated national statistical systems, and a new approach for international cooperation, moving away from the donor-recipient paradigm.

The US, also on behalf of Canada and Israel, cautioned against “trying to do too much” and supported the elaboration of SDG themes around issues of common interest. On the relationship of the SDGs to other processes, she observed that by 2015 any “unfinished MDG business has to be found a home.”

Norway, also on behalf of Denmark and Ireland, supported global goals with targets for all countries with each goal allowing for the recognition of national circumstances. Agreeing on the need to address means of implementation, she called for a set of SDGs that address the shortcomings of the silo-based MDG approach. 

Japan, also on behalf of Iran and Nepal, said two sets of goals are not appropriate from the viewpoint of effectiveness and clarity. He called for convergence and integration of several ongoing parallel processes, including the UN High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP); the UN Special Event to follow up on efforts made towards achieving the MDGs in September 2013; the Intergovernmental Expert Committee on Sustainable Development Financing Strategy; and the HLPF. He also highlighted the need to engage all stakeholders, and to have a SDG process founded on evidence-based knowledge and information. 

Peru, also on behalf of Mexico, called for: convergence; a dashboard of indicators and targets; interlinkages between themes; and consideration of the global macroeconomic context. He also said the OWG should present recommendations on follow-up and implementation mechanisms.

The Holy See highlighted that global development should not only consider economic criteria but also human development.

The Business and Industry Major Group called for: building on good governance, best available knowledge and on accurate, detailed disaggregated statistics that take into account national realities; recognizing deployment, innovation and know-how; and for reflecting economic circumstances and risks in designing the goals. She also outlined the need for one single agenda.

Bolivia, also on behalf of Argentina and Ecuador, emphasized international equity and the right to development, and respect for diverse development models. He noted that the Intergovernmental Expert Committee on Sustainable Development Financing Strategy had not yet started its work, and called for that discussion to take place in parallel. Calling for broad consultations on the SDGs, he said governments, not other institutions or UN agencies, should carry out national consultations. He called on the SDGs to address, inter alia, food security and sovereignty, sustainable consumption, non-polluting production, water, forests, climate change adaptation, indigenous community rights and democratization of natural wealth.

 Australia, also on the behalf of the Netherlands and UK, suggested discussing how to structure goals, indicators and targets as part of the OWG work, and stressed the importance of identifying the added value of the SDG process.

Belarus, also on behalf of Serbia, proposed using a UN index to measure progress and called for adequate and effective technical assistance to support the SDGs.

Slovenia, also on behalf of Montenegro, highlighted the importance of: innovation and expertise; a human rights-based approach; the principle of prosperity; gender equality and empowerment of women; and a disaggregated set of data. He also called for the SDGs to be based on scientific evidence.

Pakistan, also on behalf of India and Sri Lanka, emphasized the need for a discussion on the effectiveness of official development assistance (ODA), and enhancing data collection.

Tunisia highlighted the experience from Tunisia’s recent Dignity Revolution to emphasize the importance of addressing justice and equality in the SDGs, and supported the principle of CBDR.

The Republic of Korea proposed that the SDGs could consist of broad development outcomes in order to apply to a wide range of countries, but then each goal could include drivers of change and targets and indicators that could be modified to take into account differing national circumstances. He said a focus on an inclusive green economy could help achieve the paradigm shift needed to achieve sustainable development. 

Bangladesh emphasized the need to address, inter alia, youth and unemployment, agriculture, industrialization, food security and nutrition, SCP, climate change adaptation and mitigation and fair rules for international trade. Calling for a restructuring of international sustainable development governance and finance institutions for better coordination and to “give voice to the voiceless,” he also underlined the need for the de-commodification of public goods. 

Morocco proposed combining the SDGs with the MDGs. He emphasized that investing in SDGs means adopting a preventive approach, and long-term efforts should recognize political priorities.

MODERATED PANEL DISCUSSION: Claire Melamed, Overseas Development Institute, suggested that the OWG identify a set of priorities, and outlined a set of SDG functions for consideration, including: identifying the most important elements; coordinating global action; and driving, prioritizing and measuring action at the national level. She also suggested thinking about how to construct a set of goals to ensure that objectives are met.

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor of International Affairs, New School, New York, focused on two dilemmas surrounding the use of global goals: simplicity and quantification. She said simplicity has been recognized as one of the major strengths of the MDGs but in reality several issues were left out or under-emphasized. She highlighted that: goals do not set agendas; development is a transformative process and cannot be captured in the simplicity of outcome-based goals; and goals need to be embedded in a narrative agenda. She said targets based on “one size fits all” do not really make sense, and quantification could be applied to targets that are global but not to goals.

In the discussion that followed, countries asked questions related to: keeping the SDGs simple but better targeted; quantification of goals; how to ensure universality; how to deal with issues that are not easily “goalable,” like trade and migration; and how to ensure the SDGs do not undermine the MDGs. Others emphasized the need to: develop goals that capture interlinkages between sustainable development dimensions despite the challenges faced in doing so; address issues of injustice, inequality and powerlessness; secure resources for neglected themes or topics; and ensure that climate change, energy and food security are included in the goals. It was noted that SDGs should be seen as empowering instruments for people to mobilize political action, and that some countries would need assistance in data collection, correlation and analysis.

Responding to the interventions, Melamed said other international processes were grappling with similar issues, and the expectation should not be that a future development agenda will “wave a magic wand to come up with a solution.” She recommended sub-dividing the SDGs based on political actions that have proven most successful in achieving results, to make them more manageable. Melamed also noted that “universality” probably meant different things to different actors, or even under different circumstances, and suggested agreement on a common definition for purposes of the discussion on SDGs. 

Fukuda-Parr noted that the MDG targets could end up narrowing the focus of national policy priorities – for instance, resulting in simply providing housing rather than taking into account the broader need to improve lives. She called for a focus on human outcomes as the only way to set targets.

Emphasizing the difference between goals, which relate to broad social objectives, and targets, which relate to benchmarks to monitor progress, Fukuda-Parr called for “smart targets” to monitor progress, instead of using quantification as a blunt instrument. She noted that the goal to halve poverty rates is much more difficult in a country with higher levels of poverty than one with lower levels.

On the issue of universality, she suggested bringing together parallel human rights-related processes and instruments, where consensus has already been achieved and monitoring mechanisms already exist, as part of the SDG process. She said these processes have already found ways of dealing with universal norms in very heterogeneous conditions.

Responding to a comment about the traditional development agenda, Fukuda-Parr noted that a bi-polar distinction between developing and developed countries is no longer realistic, emphasizing that standards, universal norms and principles are relevant to all countries irrespective of income or social progress. She supported the elaboration of global numerical targets, noting however the need for a democratic national process where people hold their own governments to account.

Melamed highlighted three schools of thought on the SDGs as: all encompassing; filling gaps in the MDGs; or as a consensus somewhere in between the two, supporting a broader and integrated agenda taking over from where the MDGs left off. She cautioned against over-engineering sectoral linkages, which she said could go against the aim of keeping the SDGs simple, and listed three categories of input needed in the formulation of the goals: scientific input; global trends; and stakeholders’ priorities.  

Fukuda-Parr highlighted the need for scientific input in the selection of indicators and setting of targets. She noted criticism of many of the MDG indicators, for instance the use of body weight as an indicator for hunger, which could result in a focus on the ingestion of more calories instead of better nutrition. Sympathizing with capacity constraints in meeting data requirements and reporting in developing countries, she said however that global goals could stimulate the collection of data, which is a very important global public good and essential for developing and monitoring policies. She cautioned against numerical targets that shift the focus purely on just achieving the target, rather than longer-term systemic changes. As a successful example where targets, interlinkages and multiple strategies and programmes have come together to produce real results, she highlighted Brazil’s Zero Hunger Programme. 

INTERACTIVE EXCHANGE: Saudi Arabia said the SDGs’ conceptual framework should be underpinned by the Rio Principles and Agenda 21, in particular CBDR. She said means of implementation will be key for the SDGs’ success, and that each SDG’s priority should be development. 

Uruguay said the objective of poverty eradication must not be diluted in the new agenda, which should include measures addressing inequalities, market access for developing countries and alsoagricultural subsidies.

The Russian Federation called for a single international agenda for development based on the three dimensions of sustainable development in the form of a political declaration, adopted at the level of Heads of State and Government, establishing a single international agenda for development. He also said the SDGs should: be based on human development and emphasize poverty eradication, inequalities and national capacity; not become an instrument for political pressure on countries; and be a continuation of the MDGs. He added that the SDGs could be grouped into clusters, including separate environmental SDGs. Integration of the three dimensions, meanwhile, could be ensured through general targets and disaggregated indicators.

 Ethiopia called for pushing the limits of what can be achieved through the SDGs instead of aiming for the lowest common denominator.

South Africa called on the international community to enhance efforts to achieve the MDGs by 2015 particularly in the face of the financial crisis, which he said is undermining efforts to address poverty in Africa. He called on future goals to, inter alia, take into account different trajectories of growth while respecting fair trade rules, including those related to enhancing production capacity and technologies for development.

Cuba said the SDGs should complement the MDGs and enhance international commitments, while addressing inequalities, poverty, education, health, food security, access to water, economic growth, job creation, access to energy and sustainable technological development.  He also called for reform of international financial systems and the Bretton Woods institutions.

New Zealand called for convergence of the SDG process and the post-2015 agenda, and for a common understanding of the purpose of SDG targets and indicators. She proposed that the SDGs address sustainable energy, agriculture and oceans in particular, and make use of social media to reach out to the grassroots for more durable results. She said the proposal for a dashboard of targets and indicators is worth further investigation but cautioned against creating simple goals yet with hundreds of targets and indicators.

Costa Rica stressed the need for a holistic, broader approach to sustainable development, addressing global concepts beyond the thematic areas, including consideration of natural capital and planetary limits.

Moldova stated that the development of the SDGs should not divert efforts to achieve the MDGs, observing that “unfulfilled MDGs” should be incorporated in the SDGs.

Bhutan proposed the adoption of “well-being and happiness” as the overall development aspiration for the SDGs. He also suggested core development priorities such as poverty eradiation, with indicators for areas such as strength of communities, cultural diversity and learning outcomes.

Barbados, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) said the post-2015 agenda should be a single, integrated framework addressing sustainable development in all three dimensions, and that the OWG should not work in isolation of related processes, such as the MDG review, HLPF, and post-2015 development agenda. She called for building national and regional capacity to self-regulate progress, and for each goal to address means of implementation. On measurement of the SDGs, she said there is scope to discuss measures beyond GDP.

Paraguay said the SDGs must be adapted to national structures and capacities in order to be effective.

Nigeria said the OWG must seriously consider good governance, peace and security, and other enablers of sustainable development, as well as the factors that fuel conflict. On means of implementation, he said partnerships should emphasize key issues such as technology transfer, trade and IPRs.

The NGO Major Group called for a new development paradigm incorporating a rights-based approach and equity for all. She stressed the need for “authentic social inclusion” of the most marginalized, and for the OWG to discuss modalities for multi-stakeholder participation in both the OWG process and the goals themselves.

The Women’s Major Group called for gender and women’s rights to be addressed explicitly in the SDGs to promote gender empowerment and equitable rights to resources, and for the SDGs to address, inter alia, climate change adaptation, volatility of food prices, education for women and girls, sexual and reproductive rights, commodification of nature, means of implementation, and monitoring and accountability, including through the use of data disaggregated on the basis of sex, age and other status.

The Children and Youth Major Group emphasized intergenerational solidarity in achieving sustainable development, while rethinking traditional development strategies to address existing and emerging issues.

MODERATED INTERACTIVE EXCHANGE OF VIEWS: Co-Chair Kamau introduced an interactive session moderated by Marc Levy, Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network, US.

Levy summarized three key challenges in the SDG process: the tension between preserving the proven success of the incremental MDG process, which is rooted in the traditional development agenda, and the desire for non-incremental, transformational goals; the move from a “one size fits all” approach of the MDGs to a set of multi-layered goals that respond to global, national and local challenges; the challenge of a more deliberate approach to identifying data and information needs; and the need for clarity on the theory of change for the SDGs. He proposed a 30-year timeline noting that the 15-year timeline of the MDGs had unleashed more creativity. 

During the ensuing discussion, several issues were raised including on: the relevance of a long-term perspective for the SDGs; aspirations and constraints regarding the SDGs; how to view poverty as a truly multidimensional issue, to be tackled in a holistic way; how to address the “tension” between the MDGs and SDGs; and fostering public-private-partnerships. 

In response, Levy stressed the need for a better understanding of societies’ aspirations, as well as the physical and biological constraints of these aspirations. He said that societies need to make a conscious choice regarding meeting peoples’ needs and respecting constraints.

On the multidimensional aspect of poverty, Levy observed that every society would define the dimensions of poverty that matter most to them. He challenged participants to devise goals and targets aimed at the desired long-term future, but at the same time, trigger action today. He cited the health-related MDGs, which he said supported movement away from short-term remedies to creative thinking on reforming health systems.

Levy agreed that shifting focus to the SDGs and acting like the MDGs “are done with” would be a mistake. On means of implementation, he noted the tremendous paradox of embarking on a global collective process such as the SDGs at a time when the world’s ability to invest in it is on a decline. He noted the need for an institution to ensure long-term goals are met, and mobilize resources in a pluralistic way.

One participant agreed on the need for a process that: provides a menu of options for societies to choose from; balances the desire for specificity on the goals with the flexibility for implementing future solutions; and spurs innovation and interactions between public, private and citizen actions. Another asked how the advantages of a longer-term SDG process could be balanced with potential disadvantages, such as taking on board new learning and information in a changing world. A question was raised on whether a more consistent conceptualization of poverty that includes social, economic and environmental elements is needed. 

The discussion also focused on: long-term realities of population growth and accompanying challenges posed by aging populations; acknowledging that longer-term efforts must not overlook short-and medium-term realities for people’s lives; incorporating climate change in the SDGs; how to keep governments accountable at each stage of a longer time-frame; avoiding a neo-liberal approach to understanding people’s aspirations and constraints; and the means of implementation to address aspirations.

 Levy suggested evaluating the results of varying targets on the same empirical foundation and welcomed the call for private sector participation, noting that the impact of ODA and mandated technology transfer is incremental, limited, and will not provide the needed lever for transformation.


KEYNOTE ADDRESS ON POVERTY ERADICATION: Abhijit Banerjee, International Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and member of the HLP emphasized the need to: choose the post-2015 outcomes carefully, but not dictate the process of achieving them; focus on outcomes that are meaningful for people, not only easy for bureaucracies to achieve; look beyond averages to reach out to marginalized groups and populations; and take the idea of partnerships more seriously, to go beyond governments and donors and involve civil society.

Olav Kjørven, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), introduced an issue note on poverty prepared by the TST. He said economic growth is essential but not sufficient for addressing poverty, and elements such as inclusive and equitable growth, access to basic services and responsible natural resource management are also important. Kjørven said the SDGs process should consider: how to reflect the multiple dimensions of poverty; how goals, indicators and targets can take into account the special circumstances of vulnerable and fragile countries and marginalized groups; and how national and international action can achieve sustainable use of natural resources.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Food and Agriculture Organization, explained the link between poverty eradication and hunger. Referring to poverty’s “credibility problem” he outlined controversies in measuring poverty, the idea that the poverty line has been lowered in order to keep poverty “in business,” and the question that if poverty has truly been reduced, why a similar change is not seen in the hunger line. Suggesting a rethinking of MDG 1 on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, Sundaram highlighted that: food prices are expected to remain high, due in part to food waste and the reduced role of government; the predominantly rural nature of poverty means that agricultural development has a big impact on poverty; and a social protection floor as established in the UNGA in 2010 is required.

Sabina Alkire, Director, Oxford University Poverty and Human Development Initiative, presented the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). She said the MPI uses multiple measures of deprivation and finds people “poor” if they are deprived in 33% or more of the weighted indicators. She noted that the summary of results provides “headline” indicators, showing both the number of poor people and the intensity of their deprivation, while a breakdown of the results offers more detail to policymakers. The MPI could help to crystallize SDG indicators, Alkire suggested, and provide multidimensional measures to group some of the goals together.

Eva Jespersen, Head of National Human Development Reports Unit, UNDP, moderated the ensuing discussion. Participants raised questions on: whether poverty should be a stand-alone or crosscutting goal; how to take on board the multi-dimensional nature of poverty in the SDG framework and mainstream the concept in all thematic goal areas including a stronger focus on human rights; addressing SCP; increasing food productivity while reducing agricultural input for sustainable agriculture; the link between food production and climate change; expanding partnerships; the link between poverty, hunger and access to food; income poverty in urban areas; and incorporating social dimensions to facilitate reaching out to vulnerable populations. 

In response to the comments, Kjørven said local, national and global drivers of poverty should be addressed, including through land, resource and livelihood rights, broader agricultural and economic policies, and SCP.

Sundaram noted that a 1% growth in per capita agricultural output results in a 1.61% growth in incomes of the poorest 20%, which is more than from the manufacturing and services sectors. He also commented that agricultural scientific research has been neglected in recent decades.

On whether poverty should be a single or overarching goal, Alkire said that technically both could be tracked. She highlighted women’s empowerment as one way of increasing agricultural productivity. Banerjee said the burden of measurement imposed by the future goals will need global support.

In response to a comment on urban poverty, Kjørven observed that trends indicate that the global population of urban poor is likely to increase, and said the SDGs present an opportunity to develop specific measures, targets and indicators to address urban poverty. He said eradicating rural poverty would have a positive impact on urban poverty.

Sundaram said food prices have risen in part because of the growth of the commodities, futures and options market. He said the “good governance” agenda has become too broad, and the priority should be “development governance” which can address key constraints. He noted that most poverty-hunger links only focused on dietary energy (or calories). He specified that the role of governments has changed, and they now provide less infrastructure, do less research and extension and play a smaller role in making food affordable and available. He also noted that consumer subsidies help to make food affordable.

Participants: noted that statistics generally do not measure natural capital; noted gravitation toward poverty eradication as a “super goal” integrating a number of the current, stand-alone goals, and cautioned this may not lead to the desired gains; and asked how to measure the vulnerabilities faced by small islands.

In response, Alkire said the MPI offers insight on the specific causes of a population’s deprivation, giving policy makers an added tool for eradicating poverty. She added that measuring vulnerability would require predictions of shocks, disasters and national preparedness. Shantanu Mukherjee, UNDP, said poverty eradication implies ensuring that “nobody is poor, at any point in time,” and must address how people cope with shocks.

INTERACTIVE EXCHANGE OF VIEWS: Fiji, on behalf of G77/China, noted that there were less than 1000 days before the MDG deadline. On future goals, he proposed considering inter alia: multi-dimensional aspects of poverty; capabilities of governments and peoples; holistic and integrated approaches to sustainable development; equitable and inclusive economic growth; an enabling architecture; global trade and investment rules designed and implemented to address constraints faced by developing countries; CBDR; full participation and an increased voice of developing countries in international decision making; affordable access to basic services; and consolidated efforts by all stakeholders.

Benin, on behalf of the LDCs, called for using percentages rather than absolute numbers as the basis of future goals for poverty eradication, saying that the percentage of extreme poor in LDCs still remains high at 47%, and had actually increased in the last decade. He called for further research by the UN Technical Task Team and the scientific community into the problems faced by LDCs, including low capacity, systemic problems and lack of resources and institutions.

Highlighting the changing global political landscape, the EU voiced determination to increase efforts to meet the MDGs, and called for using the progress made under the MDGs as a springboard for future goal.

Ireland, also on behalf of Denmark and Norway, agreed that future poverty eradication efforts must go beyond the use of simple tools such as the US$ 1.25/day income measure, to address multi-dimensional aspects. She noted that this would also have implications for other goals, for instance, in moving from measuring access to education, to measures of quality. As a means of taking into account the needs of the vulnerable and marginalized, particularly women, she proposed listening to those affected, as well as those who had made progress and had knowledge of solutions. She concluded by saying it was premature to decide whether poverty eradication should be overarching or a stand-alone goal and agreed that national and global goals should be mutually reinforcing.

Cyprus, also for Singapore and the UAE, said he was not convinced that poverty eradication should be a stand-alone SDG, observing that all SDGs should contribute to poverty eradication.

Colombia called for consideration of how the MDG targets would be integrated into the SDGs to address pending development issues. She said the option of a global dashboard would include flexible targets, which each country could translate into action according to their own realities.

Observing that critical national building blocks were missing from the MDGs, the UK, also for the Netherlands and Australia, called for a single post-2015 development agenda aimed at zero extreme poverty, which he said would require a complex set of actions from both the public and private sector.

Viet Nam, also on behalf of Bhutan and Thailand, emphasized addressing inequality as a main deliverable for the new development agenda. He also called for building resilience of vulnerable people to natural disasters and climate change as well as for adaptation support.

Nauru, on behalf of the Pacific Island States, noted global dependence on ocean resources, and proposed the creation of a goal and target for healthy and sustainable oceans. 

Canada, also on behalf of the US and Israel, emphasized the importance of partnerships.

Ghana, on behalf of ECOWAS, spoke about the limits of unsustainable growth in Western African nations. She stated that poverty is not restricted to income levels, and is a phenomenon that affects both developed and developing countries.

Brazil, also speaking on behalf of Nicaragua, stressed the Rio+20 commitment to both eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development, and cautioned against pre-judging the final outcome of the post-2015 framework. 

Guyana, also for Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and the CARICOM States observed that measuring poverty solely by using an income baseline distorts reality, especially in relation to women, youth and marginalized groups.

Calling for a focus on a decent life, Slovenia, also for Montenegro, stressed that poverty should not only be measured by quantitative approaches. He said additional aspects not addressed by MDGs should be taken into consideration.

Nepal called for prioritizing all the MDGs and fully integrating them in the post-2015 framework. Cuba pointed out that developing countries are trapped in a complicated economic and financial model, which perpetuates financial flows to the rich.

Bangladesh called for a future goal on poverty to encompass national action including focused policy and programme interventions and empowerment of people, and international action. He flagged environmental considerations, including land degradation, destruction of wetlands and climate change. Calling for an analysis of structural constraints at the national and international levels to inform goal-setting and policy making, he said vulnerable countries should have a voice in international management and architecture.

Mexico shared its experiences on measuring multi-dimensional aspects of poverty, mandated by national law. He said the Mexican National Council for Evaluation of Social Development Policy, consisting of researchers and academics, is linked to the ministries of finance and social development to promote the use of these measurements, which include income and social dimensions.

Japan stated that a consensus for a focus on the multi-dimensionality of poverty was quite clear, and suggested a holistic approach that addresses people’s empowerment and protection. He stressed that domestic inequalities and disaster risk reduction should also be taken into consideration.

Lichtenstein focused on the need to take a rights-based approach for all of the SDGs to ensure equality, accountability and focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized. He expressed hope that a common understanding could be reached early in the OWG process for an ambitious poverty eradication goal.

The Russian Federation stressed a need for more targets and indicators of poverty eradication that would ensure social support for the most vulnerable. He called for means to ensure the stability of international markets and financial institutions.

Honduras emphasized the ability of sustainable tourism to protect natural resources and achieve sustainable development. She stated that national and international efforts for poverty eradication must be coordinated.

India called for a stand-alone goal on inequality and poverty. Calling for integrated policies that take into account all aspects of poverty eradication, Haiti emphasized the vulnerability of the poor to shocks, such as those due to climate change.

Paraguay called for an SDG focusing on strengthening civil society participation, as well as improving North-South and South-South cooperation.

The Holy See stressed the need for a truly human-centered, bottom-up approach for poverty eradication. He emphasized the inclusion of marginalized groups in social, political, economic and cultural life so that they have equal opportunities to provide for their families.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies focused on the effect of disasters and emergencies on poverty eradication efforts, stressing the disproportionate effects of these events on the poor and vulnerable.

The Women’s Major Group highlighted structural and institutional discrimination that has led to the “feminization of poverty.” She called for the full participation of women in the design and implementation of the SDGs, and made recommendations for the inclusion of, inter alia: reproductive rights; local agriculture; economic rights; decent work conditions; ending violence against women; and climate change.

The NGO Major Group called for the SDGs to, inter alia: be people-centered; human rights-focused; ethical and inclusive; address rural development and sustainable agriculture for smallholder farmers; address natural resource extraction; build a new, inclusive global financial and economic system; and include accountability mechanisms.

The Major Group for Local Authorities called for a single, converging post-2015 development agenda. She stressed a need for wide consultations and strong ownership of the agenda, with local, national and global indicators.

The Major Group for Children and Youth emphasized that the best interests of youth must be central to poverty eradication. She said these populations must be included in the design and implementation of the SDGs, and specific indicators on the benefit for children and youth must be created for each goal.

Summarizing discussions, Co-Chair Körösi called for strong and cooperative action, and stated that the Group’s task is “to craft the backbone of a transformation agenda.” On conceptual issues related to the SDGs, Körösi highlighted the following areas of convergence inter alia: the Rio Principles, including CBDR, should guide the goals’ formulation; goals must be consistent with international law and not renegotiate existing agreements; the SDGs should be concise and focused; SDGs should speak to both developed and developing countries; goals should be flexible and responsive to individual countries’ needs; new indicators and forms of data must be included in goal measurements; and the time frame of the goals must be able to respond to emerging global issues. He stated that there is a convergence on the idea of “universality” of the SDGs, though stated that countries have different understandings of this term’s definition. Körösi also highlighted agreement that all goals and targets should reflect the three dimensions of sustainable development, as well as their interlinkages.

On the overarching issue of poverty eradication, he highlighted converging views on inter alia: the need for poverty eradication to be central and mainstreamed in the work of the OWG; a need to ensure that the eradication of poverty is irreversible; the identification of the drivers of poverty is critical to eradicating it; the multi-dimensionality of poverty; and a need for more focus on the effects of external shocks and “poverty of opportunity.” He stated that there is some convergence on a need for a stand-alone goal to eradicate poverty, but further discussions will have to outline possible models for this goal. Körösi also emphasized the need to learn from countries that have made progress in eradicating poverty and to learn from their experiences.

Going forward, he observed that the OWG would continue to reach out to the scientific community and the TST for their inputs. He highlighted a need to communicate with the other ongoing post-2015 processes, calling for a “single, coherent development agenda with poverty eradication and SDGs at its core” to be established for 2015. Expressing his appreciation for the diversity of views, he thanked all delegates for their patience, attentiveness and productivity in the discussions.


 Delegates considered the draft PoW on Friday afternoon. Co-Chair Kamau explained that the dates set in the draft PoW are not flexible, and that there would be additional consultations, possibly with the Intergovernmental Expert Committee on a Sustainable Development Financing Strategy, and during a series of related UN meetings during the course of the year.

In the ensuing discussion, many parties raised concerns regarding the clustering or time allocation of items. Several countries, including Egypt, Nicaragua also on behalf of Brazil, Barbados, Iran, Papua New Guinea also on behalf of Nauru and Palau, Japan and Ireland noted that the inclusion or clustering of issues in the PoW should not prejudge the SDGs. 

Switzerland, also on behalf of France and Germany, said some topics were missing from the programme, for instance, governance, human rights, population dynamics and crosscutting issues such as equity. He cautioned against treating topics in silos, and suggested re-clustering related issues.

Italy supported the draft PoW on the basis that it will not prejudge the shape of the SDGs, be considered an initial list of SDGs, or limit the possibility of states to raise and discuss other themes. He suggested flexibility, and an interactive setting with inputs from expert panelists for future sessions.

Egypt, Nicaragua also on behalf of Brazil, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya and Venezuela, preferred to discuss energy in the context of sustained and inclusive growth and macroeconomic issues rather than within the cluster on sustainable cities, human development cluster. Saudi Arabia objected to the clustering of energy with transportation and climate change, saying the discussion should focus on energy access for the poor and be discussed with the session on sustained and inclusive economic growth instead. Cyprus, also on behalf of Singapore and the UAE, noted that the way that energy had been reflected in the programme limited discussion on it.

The inclusion of systemic issues, such as financial stability, was supported by Egypt and Indonesia, also on behalf of China and Kazakhstan. Iran, Pakistan and India called for adding global governance and, with Argentina, financial architecture to the PoW.

Countries calling for means of implementation to be discussed within each of the themes included Egypt, Iran, Ecuador and Nigeria. Poland, also for Romania, proposed discussing the means of implementation at a later stage in the PoW.

On the agenda item on conflict, peace and security, Nicaragua, also on behalf of Brazil and Argentina, called for it to be reworded to apply to countries in special situations. Indonesia, also on behalf of China and Kazakhstan, proposed its deletion and, with Iran, called for it to apply to post-conflict countries. Lebanon called for the inclusion of conflict prevention in the discussion; and Pakistan noted that the notion of development linked to peace and security is important. Guatemala, also on behalf of Colombia, requested consideration of rule of law, and crime and conflict prevention. Argentina, inter alia, requested inclusion of countries in a post-conflict situation and middle-income countries in the session on countries in special situations and called for discussion of structural issues including the international financial architecture.

Indonesia, also on behalf of China and Kazakhstan, proposed recasting human rights in the context of the right to development, and called for a revised programme.

Egypt and Tanzania noted that drought is not included in the PoW. Tunisia proposed having a separate theme on health; improving science education; and discussing climate change with the session on desertification, food security and nutrition. Libya and Tunisia called for the inclusion of a discussion of seas along with the subject of oceans.

Viet Nam, also on behalf of Bhutan and Thailand, stated a preference for longer sessions. Observing that the PoW is “not a perfect document,” the US said it provided a basis for moving forward. Australia, also on behalf of the Netherlands and the UK, expressed willingness to work according to the approach outlined.

Belarus called for consideration of countries with economies in transition in the PoW.

Co-Chair Kamau thanked the delegates for their constructive inputs. He assured the Group that the PoW is not a “list with an agenda,” and would be reworked by the Co-Chairs following input from countries. Presenting a revised PoW for the next two sessions he proposed that OWG-3 cover food security and nutrition, sustainable agriculture, drought desertification, land degradation and water and sanitation. For OWG-4, he proposed health and population dynamics, employment and decent work for all, social protection, youth and education.

Co-Chair Kamau explained that a discussion of means of implementation will be included for each issue area and that the revised 2013-2014 PoW will be released in the coming days. He closed the OWG-2 at 5:50 pm.


Asia and Pacific Regional Implementation Meeting on Rio+20 Outcomes: The Asia and Pacific Regional Implementation Meeting (RIM) will discuss regional perspectives on the global processes resulting from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), such as the establishment of a High Level Political Forum to replace the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, and the development of sustainable development goals, and identify regional follow-up. The meeting is organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. dates: 22-24 April 2013 location: Bangkok, Thailand  contact: ESCAP Secretariat  email: www:

UNGA Thematic Debate: Climate Change, Green Energy and Water Sustainability: The 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will host a thematic debate on Climate Change, Green Energy and Water Sustainability on 16 May 2013.  date: 16 May 2013  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: Office of the President of the General Assembly  www:

Third Session of the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals: The agenda for the third session of the Open Working Group is to be confirmed. dates: 22-24 May 2013 (tentative)  location: UN Headquarters, New York   contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development  phone: +1-212-963-8102  fax: +1-212-963-4260  email: www:

Arab Regional Implementation Meeting on Rio+20 Outcomes: The Arab RIM will discuss the outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development and their implications for sustainable development agenda in the Arab region. The meeting is organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.  dates: 29-30 May 2013  location: Dubai, UAE  contacts: Reem Nejdawi or  Rita Wehbé, ESCWA Secretariat  phone: + 961-1-978 578 or +961-1-978-513  fax: +961-1-981 510/511/512  emails: or  www:

International Labour Conference: The 102nd session of this conference is organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), and will include presentation of a paper and general discussion on “Sustainable development, decent work, and green jobs.” dates: 5-20 June 2013  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: Official Relations Branch, ILO  phone: +41-22-799-8944  fax: +41-22-799-7732  email: www:

High-Level Conference of Middle-Income Countries: The conference aims to create a platform for knowledge exchange and connection of middle-income countries, and to develop a joint action plan and declaration feeding into discussions of the post-2015 development agenda, and facilitating network governance structures for knowledge sharing. The conference will be hosted and organized by the Government of Costa Rica and facilitated by the UNIDO initiative Networks for Prosperity. Preparatory meetings will be held in Geneva, Vienna, New York and Washington DC, including a 7 May Open Dialogue on Financing for Sustainable Economic Development in New York.  dates: 12-14 June 2013  location: San José, Costa Rica  phone: +43-1-26026-0  fax: +43-1-2692669  email:  www:

Fourth Session of the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals: The agenda of the fourth session of the Open Working Group is to be confirmed. dates: 17-19 June 2013 (tentative)  location: UN headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development  phone: +1-212-963-8102  fax: +1-212-963-4260  email:  www:

20th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development: The 20th and final session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 20) will take place back-to-back with the first meeting of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF). The HLPF is expected to convene in September.  date: 2 September 2013 (tentative)  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development  phone:+1-212-963-8102  fax:+1-212-963-4260  email: www:

UNGA Special Event to Follow up Efforts made towards Achieving the MDGs: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) will hold this one-day event during the 68th session of the UNGA in September. This will represent the occasion for leaders to identify actions to complete the MDG process and to provide guidance on priorities to focus on.  date: 25 September 2013  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: Saijin Zhang  phone: +1-212-963-2336 (General Assembly Affairs), +1-212-963-7172 (Protocol and Liaison)  fax: +1-212-963-1921  www:

First Annual Sustainable Development Implementation Forum: The UN Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) will host the first annual Sustainable Development Implementation Forum (SDIF) from 28-31 October 2013, in Incheon, Republic of Korea. The SDIF aims to serve as a global platform for sharing best practices in formulating and implementing sustainable development programmes, reviewing evidence of impact, and charting out new and improved pathways for sustainable development implementation. The programme of the annual SDIF also will include topics related to: scaling up implementation; finding effective solutions to address implementation constraints and challenges; examining emerging issues in the context of planning and implementation; promoting the science-policy-practice interface to ensure the transition towards sustainability; and promoting and facilitating partnerships, as well as building communities of practice. The SDIF will include high-level policy dialogues, training sessions, seminars, side events, and expert panel discussions covering key cross-cutting sustainable development and green economy issues and good practices in strategy-making and policy implementation.  dates: 28-31 October 2013  location: Incheon, Republic of Korea  contact: SDIF Secretariat, UNOSD  phone: +82-32-822-9088  fax: +82-32-822-9089  email: www:

Fifth Session of the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals: The agenda for the fifth session of the Open Working Group is to be confirmed dates: 25-27 November 2013 (tentative) location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development phone: +1-212-963-8102  fax: +1-212-963-4260  email:

Sixth Session of the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals: The agenda for the sixth session of the Open Working Group is to be confirmed dates: 9-13 December 2013 (tentative) location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development  phone: +1-212-963-8102  fax: +1-212-963-4260  email:  www:

Seventh Session of the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals: The agenda for the seventh session of the Open Working Group is to be confirmed. dates: 6-10 January 2014 (tentative) location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development  phone: +1-212-963-8102  fax: +1-212-963-4260  email: www:

Eighth Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals: The agenda for the eighth session of the UNGA Open Working Group is to be confirmed. dates: 3-7 February 2014 (tentative) location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development phone: +1-212-963-8102  fax: +1-212-963-4260 www:

Further information