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Symposium 2015

Putting the SDGs to Work

The Challenge

Much of the recent public debate on international development has revolved around the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are due to expire in 2015. Negotiations on a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are now under way. While the MDGs had a rather narrow focus on key issues of human development such as income, poverty, basic health, and education, the scope of the SDGs is much broader. The SDGs follow up on the previous poverty-oriented goals which have not been met completely, but they then also include distributional considerations as well as environmental objectives such as the protection of oceans and tropical forests. The SDGs are thus firmly rooted in the sustainable development paradigm, which renders them conceptually appealing. At the same time, the SDG list is extremely long, comprising 17 goals broken down into 169 sub-goals (so-called targets) as compared to the 8 MDGs with their 21 targets. This new complexity may pose a risk to the popularity and realization of the new development goals, given that the MDGs' appeal to a wider audience also originated from their catchy simplicity and measurability.

The overarching question of this GES session is, under which conditions will the SDGs have the potential to shape the international development dialogue in a way similar similar to how the MDGs did over the previous15 years. In addition, a number of more specific questions arise when it comes to actually implementing the SDGs:

  • what lessons are to be learned from the experience with the, MDGs and by whom?;
  • will it be necessary to set priorities among the many goals and targets, especially where trade-offs between them are to be expected (e.g. prioritizing poverty reduction over environmental protection)?;
  • how can the SDGs be operationalized so as to render them a useful yardstick for development policy?;
  • how will the financing of the SDGs be shared between national governments and the international community?; and
  • what contribution can business and civil society make to help implement the SDGs?


This session is organized by Rainer Thiele and Manfred Wiebelt, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Please check out the tabs below for additional facts and information.

    Solutions

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Desert2Eden—Integrated Restoration and Development of Arid Regions to Address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    Desert2Eden—Integrated Restoration and Development of Arid Regions to Address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    Desert2Eden—Integrated Restoration and Development of Arid Regions to Address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Achieving the SDGs by Tackling Inequality

    Achieving the SDGs by Tackling Inequality

    Achieving the SDGs by Tackling Inequality

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Sustainable Development Goals—A Chance for a Real Transition!

    Sustainable Development Goals—A Chance for a Real Transition!

    Sustainable Development Goals—A Chance for a Real Transition!

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    The SDGs Need Implementation Plans and Science Should Play a More Significant Role

    The SDGs Need Implementation Plans and Science Should Play a More Significant Role

    The SDGs Need Implementation Plans and Science Should Play a More Significant Role

    Background Paper

    Background Paper
    Symposium 2015

    Shaping the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Virtual Library

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    How to Prioritize U.N. Goals

    In an opinion piece for the New York Times Abhijit Banerjee and Varad Pande eloquently argue in favour of setting priorities when implementing the Post-2015 agenda. They suggest, for example, to short ...

    In an opinion piece for the New York Times Abhijit Banerjee and Varad Pande eloquently argue in favour of setting priorities when implementing the Post-2015 agenda. They suggest, for example, to shorten the long list of targets by focusing on outcomes and leaving out process or input measures, and to make goals and targets as specific, measurable, and actionable as possible.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals

    In this article in the Lancet, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Columbia Earth Institute, argues that is absolutely essential to establish a  global development agenda which goes beyond the MDGs and in ...

    In this article in the Lancet, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Columbia Earth Institute, argues that is absolutely essential to establish a  global development agenda which goes beyond the MDGs and integrates the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental sustainability.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Report of the Open Working Group of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals.

    Lists all 17 SDGs as well as their breakdown into 169 targets.

    Lists all 17 SDGs as well as their breakdown into 169 targets.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014

    UN document that provides an account of how sucessful the international community has been in reaching the various MDGs.

    UN document that provides an account of how sucessful the international community has been in reaching the various MDGs.