The changes set in motion by the outcome of Rio+20, and the looming deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 have presented the United Nations with an opportunity to redefine the sustainable development agenda. Governments are now focused on developing a global agenda that is balanced and integrated, with a central focus on ending extreme poverty. By 2016 there will be one global development agenda in place focused on sustainability with a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at its core.
During the next 21 months activities will take place worldwide that will contribute to the formulation of a Post-2015 Development Agenda that will ultimately be debated and negotiated at the September 2015 meeting on the UN General Assembly. A number of different initiatives and tracks converged at the September 2013 UN General Assembly which met under the theme 'Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage'. This included the first meeting of the High Level Political Forum, established in Rio+20, to replace the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Attendees included Presidents and Prime Ministers, demonstrating a willingness from member states to make this key step in mainstreaming sustainable development in the post-2015 agenda a success.
Another key outcome of Rio+20 was agreement by member States to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will build upon the MDGs and converge with the post 2015 development agenda. Both the ‘High Level Panel of Eminent Persons’ and theSustainable Development Solutions Network established by the UN Secretary-General have proposed a draft set of SDGs, but these are still being worked on by the Open Working Group (OWG), established by Rio+20, which has two more out of eight scheduled scoping meetings to get through before the goals will begin to be formulated. Analysis from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) from the June 2013 meeting of the OWG stated:
'It was clear that Member States are taking the job of defining sustainable development goals, which could also define the future for sustainable development, seriously, and their efforts to build and share knowledge will hopefully prepare them for the difficult road ahead. When the inputs and voices are broad and wide-ranging, as this process has prided itself on, narrowing down the many ideas into simple goals, targets and indicators will not be an easy task.'
The Post-2015 Development Agenda has significant implications for Business, but UN Member States do not yet know how to engage with Business in a consistent manner. On the side of the business community, a step forward is the creation of the Global Business Alliance for a New Development Agenda (GBA). This organization will draft key business messages, organise country events to promote dialogue with governments and engage local business, and plan side-events at key meetings to showcase the positive impact business can have on development.
IPIECA will continue to monitor developments within the UN and externally related to the post-2015 development agenda through GBA and report on them at regular intervals, as well as engage with those most relevant to our members’ sectors and areas of expertise.