In September 2000 – at the Millennium Summit, world leaders sat down to discuss the role of the United Nations and the turn to the 21st century.

As you can see in this short video eight goals with several smaller indicators and targets where created. These goals provided a blueprint for action, and the date for achieving these goals was set to be at the end of 2015. 2015 is already here, so this year these goals will expire.The discussion on what to do after 2015, has nevertheless been an important topic for a long time already.

The world has made significant progress in achieving many of the goals, but there is still a very long way to go.

In 2012 world leaders had a meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil known as, Rio+20 Conference. A main outcome from this conference was the agreement to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will build upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For now there have been recommended 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved (read them here). These new goals will shape global priorities for environmental, economic and social development to 2030. 2015 will mark a new crossroad in history, but what can we expect from the SDGs?


What is the difference between the MDGs and SDGs?

The main difference between these two development sets, is that while MDGs where more targeted towards the ‘poorer’ countries. The SDGs incorporate goals the entire world needs to work towards.

For example does the SDG include to combat climate change and its impacts, protection of ecosystems and to build resilient infrastructure. Compared to the eight previous goals, these 17 encompass much more, and take on a more holistic nature of development. Some counties such as the U.K have, however, questioned the 17 goals, saying it is to many. The goals are on the other hand not set in stone, and we have et to see how many we will end up with.

Another huge difference with the development of these new goals, is that they have included more people in the decision making. Even you could participate! Have you been on this site before? The World We Want. Here you can pick out your top six concerns you would like the world to focus on.

Have the MDGs been successful?

There will be contradictory answers on this question, depending on who you ask. Some might say they have been successful, but others are not so sure. One thing that I think the MDGs have been successful about for sure, is that they have been able to draw attention in the right direction. Before the MDGs were created there was no common framework for promoting global development and with them came a whole new framework for thinking and working.

However, there is a need to work harder. For once, goal number one – to half extreme poverty is too small or narrow. It has according to UNDP been achieved. However, should we be satisfied with halving poverty, knowing what the living conditions of the rest 1.2 billion people still living in extreme poverty is like?

How can SDGs be better?

‘We must invest in the unfinished work of the Millennium Development Goals, and use them as a springboard into the future we want, a future free from poverty and built on human rights, equality and sustainability. This is our duty, and it must be the legacy we strive to leave for our children’ -UN Secretary General.


One problem with MDGs is that they did not really consider the root causes to poverty. The SDGs on the other hand are much broader, and incorporate a multitude of new goals the MDGs never considered. It takes a step further in the right direction, by addressing root causes, such as inequality within and among countries, human rights, inclusive economic growth, peace and security, inclusive and accountable institutions to name a few.

The other advantage the SDGs have is that it builds on the lessons gained from the MDGs. By drawing on knowledge from the MDGs there can be outlined better methodologies on how to achieve and measure the goals and outcomes. In other words, we know more what needs to be done.

The future we want:

Everyone have needs, wishes and desires in life. Many people in todays world are, however, not able to fulfil these wishes, instead they are being deprived of their rights and forced to live an undignified life. Our goal should not just be to lift people out of poverty, but to realise their rights and needs so they can live a life in dignity and freedom. A life should not just be about surviving – but also about being empowered and have the opportunity to choose.

The 17 SDGs seems great, but usually many things can look great on paper. In order to achieve the goals, we need to work together, where more action and a stronger commitment is crucial. There should be outlined better policies that economically favours the ‘poorer’ countries, new jobs and livelihoods needs to be created and a people centred approach should be taken – That is the way we can achieve to ‘leave none behind’.

‘Transformation is our watchword. At this moment in time, we are called upon to lead and act with courage’ – UN-Secretary General.


Additional resources:

The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet.

A new global Partnership.