World leaders traveled to New York City this week to kick off a series of meetings with the United Nations, beginning with the Sustainable Development Summit where they will approve a new set of goals to eradicate extreme poverty, combat climate change and address other major global issues.
More than 150 world leaders, as well as heads of financial and multilateral bodies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, are expected to attend the Sustainable Development Summit from Sept. 25 to 27.
The new sustainability goals, which will be presented Friday afternoon, will replace the Millennium Development Goals which were established in 2000 and due to come to an end by 2015.
The new targets will expand on the previous eight MDG goals – many of which have not been met, or whose success has been hard to measure. They will now include 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 accompanying targets, what will “address the three interconnected elements of economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability,” said the U.N. in a press statement Thursday.
Some of the new goals include: building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation; making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns; taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; and a very poignant bringing an end to poverty in all its forms everywhere, to name only a few.
These drift from the previous goals, which were predominantly focused on development and equality.
One of the more surprising elements of the new SDG goals is the removal of eradicating HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases from the list of targets. This is likely associated with a U.N. report earlier this year declaring that HIV infections worldwide have fallen by 35 percent in the last 15 years, and a report released in 2014 by the World Health Organization saying the mortality rates from malaria have more than halved since 2000.
The new SDGs are also designed to be more “universal so it applies to everyone,” according to the U.N., as opposed to the MDGs where a large part of aid or relief efforts for developing countries came from the North.
“We will no longer have a North-South conversation about what the North is doing for the South, but what we are doing for each other,” said Amina J. Mohammed, U.N. Secretary-General's Special Advisor, at a press conference earlier this week.
However, it remains unclear how each country will participate in achieving the hundreds of targets, which are expected to cost between US$3.5 trillion and US$5 trillion every year until 2030, according to reports by AP.
The new set of goals will also address environmental issues, ahead of the much anticipated U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. The objective of the Paris conference is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate from all the nations of the world – what looks to be a major challenge since world leaders have been reluctant to agree on viable solutions.
U.N. officials say the addition of climate change initiatives in the SDGs gives a “very positive” momentum for governments who are currently negotiating for meaningful solutions in Paris later this year.
The SDG presentation will kick off by an address by Pope Francis, who is currently visiting the U.S., Friday morning. Once the session gets underway, the following three days will feature a mixture of plenary meetings and dialogues on the main themes of the SDGs, where non-governmental organizations present will have an opportunity to address world leaders at the summit. Some of the larger NGOs that will be present include Oxfam and Global Campaign for Education, among others including 24 chosen civil society representatives.
Following the sustainability summit, world leaders will stay in New York City for the rest of next week for its annual general debate, which will conclude Oct. 3.
teleSUR is livestreaming the summit here