There were two major gatherings of global leaders this year – in New York for the UN General Assembly and in Paris for the climate talks. In some ways, the agreements that came out of both meetings look similar. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a bunch of aspirational targets for national and global progress without any legal authority, some of which look simply implausible without truly revolutionary global policy change of which there is little sign to date. Paris
CGD Policy Blogs
Has the effort to make the goals famous laid the foundation for a global movement? The initial evidence suggests ‘not yet.’ And in defense of the Global Goals organizers, that isn't for lack of trying.
In 2004, Michael Clemens, Todd Moss, and I wrote a paper on the Millennium Development Goals. It made a lot of forecasts about development trends, aid flows, and political fallout from the goal-setting exercise over the next 11 years.
There were a lot of speeches made around the SDGs by prime ministers and presidents this weekend that had a broadly similar format. The result was much stirring rhetoric, and almost nothing in the way of progress.
Next week, President Obama will head up to New York to deliver two speeches to the General Assembly. One will be the "standard" once-yearly address at the opening of the new Assembly Session. The second will focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a fifteen year vision of development progress from ending extreme poverty to halting biodiversity loss that will be adopted by the largest ever gathering of world leaders.
In two weeks, a teaming mass of world leaders are going to descend on New York to sign up to the Sustainable Development Goals. Among the targets to be met by 2030 are global universal access to water, sanitation, reliable modern energy, and communications technologies. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that meeting these infrastructure targets would involve a trillion or more dollars in additional infrastructure investment in developing countries every year. That begs the question: where is the money going to come from?
While the numbers coming out of side events at Addis were hardly worth the single shake of a string-free pom-pom, and the launch of a Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data raised a lot of questions, there were some bright spots in the US commitments to that partnership.
In 2002, negotiators from the world over met in Mexico to agree on the Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development. As Simon Maxwell has pointed out, it is an international document on development cooperation that leads with the most vital financing issues and discusses what is needed to make them work better. And that should stand as a warning to those celebrating the Addis Ababa Action Agenda agreed last week.
With the third international Financing for Development conference taking place only a week from now in Addis Ababa, I sit down with Charles Kenny to take stock of this marquee event. We discuss its importance and what one might reasonably hope is achieved there.
Unusually for the UN, there is just one goal for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development that opens in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, next week. Admittedly it is a big ask.