As the global community prepares to embrace a new global development framework christened the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this month, it is vital that lessons be drawn from the shortcomings of the predecessor framework, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is coming to a close at the end of this year. #160;
Looking back, at the 56th session of the UN General Assembly in 2001, the UN presented the MDGs in the form of a list of common goals for the world community to achieve by 2015 based on the Millennium Declaration as agreed in 2000.
The list comprised of 8 goals, 21 Targets and 60 Indicators in various areas of human endeavour. Since then, remarkable progress has been made towards achieving the MDGs.
For instance, the UN MDG Report 2015 states that the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 has decreased from 47% in 1990 to 14% in 2015 (from 1.9 billion to 836 million).
This indicates that Target 1 of halve the proportion of people living on less than one dollar a day has been reached. The story is similar in a number of other MDGs where global trends show positive results.
Unfortunately, the poor do usually get lost in averages, a point acknowledged in the UN MDG Report 2015 which states that progress across all MDGs has been limited and uneven across countries leaving significant gaps.
Millions of people are being left behind, especially the poorest and those disadvantaged because of their sex, age, disability, ethnicity or geographic location (UN 2015).
Gender inequality still persists in all spheres of socioeconomic undertaking while millions of poor people still live in poverty and hunger, without access to basic services, and many countries, particularly on the African continent, are unlikely to meet the targeted two-thirds reduction in child mortality by 2015.
The reduction in maternal mortality has been slow and mortality remains alarmingly high. In sub-Saharan regions and Southern Asia, where 80% of people in extreme poverty live, progress in reaching MDGs has generally been very limited.
There is a risk of countries cherry picking on what to implement and thereby missing some of the key transformative aspects of the agenda.
Despite these setbacks, the global successes of the MDG agenda prove that global action works and is the only path to ensure that the new development agenda leaves no one behind.
Several reasons have been raised regarding shortfalls in progress towards the MDGs which include the non-consultative nature of the MDGs at the design stage, unmet official development assistance (ODA) commitments by richer countries towards poorer ones, inadequate resources, lack of focus and accountability and insufficient interest in sustainable development.
In response to these reasons, the new global framework was extensively consultative and involved a broad range of stakeholders across the globe. The SDGs are premised on the recommendations of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons which spells out five key cornerstones for the SDGs.
First, "leave no one behind" after 2015, this implies a move from reducing to ending poverty; second, put sustainable development at the core of each of the goals through the integration of social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability; #160;third, transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth; fourth, build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all; and fifth, forge a new global partnership which will be underpinned by solidarity, cooperation and mutual accountability.
There are 17 SDGs and 169 targets in the new international agenda which will be the bedrock for shaping the next global agenda on economic, social and environmental development for the period 2015 to 2030.
The SDGs are focussed on building productive capacity and give more weight to economic and environmental factors which were raised as key elements in the 'Common African Position (CAP) on the post-2015 development agenda' launched in June 2014.
The intention of the CAP was to engage African stakeholders to deepen their understanding of the post-2015 process, and provide a platform where all of Africa speaks with one voice, and act in unity to ensure that Africa's voice is heard and its views fully integrated into the global development agenda.
The CAP is constructed around six pillars: Structural Economic Transformation and Inclusive growth; Science, Technology and Innovation; People-Centred Development; Environmental Sustainability, Natural Resources Management and Disaster Risk Management; Peace and Security; and Finance and Partnerships. #160;
Being generic, these CAP pillars fit snugly into the global SDG framework, which implies that Africa's voice was indeed heard, in some instances. Two major questions stand out in the new development agenda.
First, given the large number of Goals which are quite extensive, covering a large territory, how are countries going to implement the SDGs and collect enough data to track progress in the 169 targets? Indeed with 17 Goals, nothing will be a priority. There is a risk of countries cherry picking on what to implement and thereby missing some of the key transformative aspects of the agenda.
Secondly, as opposed to the uni-directional slant of the MDGs whereby resources would come from the richer North to the poorer South as articulated in MDG 8, the SDGs will apply equally to all countries and respond to the CAP which argues that financing this development framework should take into account a blend of financial sources, including improving traditionally low tax collection rates, stemming illicit financial outflows from Africa, recovering stolen assets, tapping global financial markets, stepping up intra-African trade, South-South cooperation and public-private partnerships.
Osten Chulu is United Nations Development Programme Senior Economist