After more than two years of negotiations, governments from around the world will gather September 25 to 27 at the United Nations to approve the adoption of a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to replace the Millennium Development Goals – which expire at the end of 2015.
According to Shannon Kindornay, “There are a number of steps a future Canadian government should take to support the SDG agenda and to realise its potential both at home and abroad.” Kindornay is Adjunct Research Professor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, and contributed an article on the SDGs to the Special Election Issue of Mondial on The United Nations and Canada, published by the World Federalists.
The draft outcome document for the September Summit has been negotiated and includes a broad, sustainable development agenda underpinned by a framework of goals, targets and indicators for 2030. The SDGs are much broader and more comprehensive than the Millennium Development Goals they replace. Importantly, the SDGs will serve as a universal agenda, applying to all countries, not just developing ones.
The scale of ambition raises immediate questions about implementation. “The Goals are a good start,” says Kindornay. “But civil society organizations have ongoing concerns regarding whether governments and other stakeholders will mobilize the necessary financing and how the UN and its new High Level Political Forum will ensure that governments are accountable for implementing these broad-ranging goals.”
Canada has recognized that the SDGs are universal in nature. However, in June 2015 a confidential memo was leaked revealing that “Canada has no plans to apply the Post-2015 Agenda domestically, or to take on new reporting obligations beyond what [Canada is] currently producing.”
“For the next government of Canada, foot-dragging on the SDGs would be a major disappointment,” says Kindornay. “To be seen as a credible leader, sustained diplomacy and political support will need to be matched by significant Government of Canada contributions to achieving the SDGs both at home and abroad. This means addressing Canada’s sustainable development challenges and increasing support for international cooperation, including leveraging partnerships with international agencies, civil society, the private sector and philanthropic organizations.”